Grandma’s Big Pancakes (and "Schmada")

Prep Time: About 30 minutes

Meal Notes: When I was growing up, my Grandma would make these pancakes almost every time I spent the night at her house. It was (and remains) my all-time favorite breakfast. Although our family has always called them “big pancakes,” I suspect they might be a version of palatschinken (Austrian crepes), since the two recipes bear some similarity and my Grandma’s parents were Austro-Hungarian. Regardless, you can think of these as low-maintenance crepes, thicker and less fussy than the French variety, but thinner and more delicate than American pancakes.

My Grandma serves big pancakes with a quick fruit compote, but my Grandpa preferred to slather them in butter and maple syrup. Both options are delicious. For added protein, consider serving with bacon or scrambled eggs.

Source: My wonderful Grandma / the Gutwein family



  • Pancakes

    • 2 cups milk

    • 2 cups flour

    • 3 eggs

    • 1 teaspoon salt

    • Canola oil

  • Compote

    • 2 cups blueberries and/or raspberries (Frozen berries work just as well as fresh!)

    • 2 Tablespoons water

    • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

    • 1 Tablespoon sugar (plus more to taste)


  • Mix Batter: Combine milk, flour, eggs, and salt in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.

  • Make Pancakes:* Pour some canola oil into a skillet and place over medium heat. To test the heat, flick a little water into the skillet. Skillet is ready when water sizzles. When skillet is ready, pour approximately 1/2 cup batter at a time into the skillet. Swirl the skillet to spread the batter into a circular shape. Cook on both sides, flipping when edges curl up. Repeat until you’ve used up all the batter.*

  • Make Compote: Meanwhile, combine cornstarch and water in a saucepan. Stir in your berry of choice. Bring to simmer. Add sugar to taste. When thick and bubbly, remove fruit mixture from stove. Serve in a small bowl as DIY pancake filling.

* Schmada Variation: On some mornings, my Grandma would make a variation of this recipe called Schmada.

To make Schmada, pour the entire contents of the batter into a large skillet. As the batter begins to cook, scrape it up with a spatula, pushing it on top of the uncooked batter. In other words, scramble the batter until it’s fully cooked, much in the same way you might scramble eggs. The end result will be a pile of messy but delicious, shredded pancake pieces with browned edges. Serve drizzled with maple syrup.

A few years ago, I got curious about the origins of this recipe and was happy to discover a Wikipedia entry on the topic. I learned that Schmada is German slang for Schmarren - or, in full, Kaiserschmarren, which translates to “Emporer’s Mess.” It was apparently a favorite dish of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I and remains popular across the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although my family has always eaten it with maple syrup, it can alternately be served sprinkled with powdered sugar or cinnamon and granulated sugar.