Back in the day, Pinzgau Blad’l used to be a regular dish on regional farmer’s menus. They were deep fried, stacked and brought out on the field for the workers during harvest. Blad’l are an example of proper local home cooking and they are something quite special, also in Pinzgau. Not everyone dares to attempt to cook these dough pastries anymore, but Lisbeth Breitfuß on the Rammernalm mountain hut in Vorderglemm continues to serve Blad’l nevertheless. She got the recipe from her mother-in-law and uses the dish to enchant both locals and visitors alike.
There's a culinary surprise waiting at the end of the Löhnersbach road
I am surrounded by silence on Schattberg mountain. The sun is setting in the sky and the trees on the mountain cast a long shadow across the Rammernalm pasture. The mountain hut restaurant has been run by Lisbeth Breitfuß and her husband for the last 30 years, and sometimes she gets help in the kitchen from friends and neighbours. During winter, the hut can only be reached from the valley by foot or by four-wheel drive or snow chains. A ski track leads down “from above”, and also from the Jausern descent.
Lisbeth Breitfuß heats up the old tiled stove that can be found in the little lounge. No more than 30 people fit in here. The sun terrace is almost exclusively used during the summer. Lisbeth sprints through the hallway as she straightens her white apron. “I don’t like it when my clothes are covered in flour, so I prefer to put on an apron,” she explains. She speaks with a thick Pinzgau dialect, but I notice that she’s also making an effort to speak in such a way that I can understand her.
Lisbeth has already placed pots and pans on the old stove in the kitchen, the potatoes for the potato salad, which is served with the Blad’l, are already boiling. A beef soup for the next day is also simmering while exuding a delicately spicy scent. On the Rammernalm, Blad’l is a five-course event, all made from the same dough, but refined with different side dishes.
1. Blad’l with the “best sauerkraut“
2. Blad’l with potato salad according to mother-in-law’s recipe
3. Savoury filled Blad’l, again with sauerkraut
4. Sweet Blad’l with cranberry jam and icing sugar
5. Sweet Blad’l with blueberry jam and icing sugar.
Then Lisbeth Breitfuß starts preparing the Blad’l dough. She knows the recipe by heart and pours rye and wheat flour into a big enamel bowl. To this, she adds a little bit of warm milk, melted butter and salt. Then everything is kneaded, quite similarly to a bread dough. “The dough also looks a little bit like bread dough,” Lisbeth notices, “but it feels more like pasta dough.” Later, this dough will be the foundation for all the other Blad’l variations. The dough must be kneaded until it’s soft. Lisbeth Breitfuß takes another handful of flour and spreads it across the worktop. Then the dough is firmly kneaded again and formed into a roll. Lisbeth explains, “I prefer to make the dough freshly from scratch, but some people prefer to make it in the morning even though they are making the Blad’l in the evening.” She finds it too dry then. First, a few thicker slices are cut from the roll for the filled Blad’l. The slices for the empty Blad’l are a bit thinner and are sliced off next. After all, the empty Blad’l will later be served with additional side dishes, just like it says on the menu.
Meanwhile, it’s turned dark outside. We’re in the kitchen and the ceiling lights cast a shadow on the snow in front of the window – very idyllic. Lisbeth Breitfuß throws a few more logs into the wood-fired stove. She still fries her Blad’l on the old stove, she doesn’t want to use the electric stove right next to it. “The fire really needs to burn, because only then the oil is hot enough for the Blad’l,” she explains.
The blonde bundle of energy has already begun to prepare the sauerkraut. It was pre-cooked a few days ago and now it only needs to be refined with a couple of ingredients and then briefly be brought to boil.
The potatoes are also done. Lisbeth rinses the water and peels the skin off the potatoes, which are mainly referred to as “Erdäpfel” (earth apples) here. This brings back memories for the landlady, “Back in the day, the farmers made Blad’l very often. During the hay harvest, for example. The women brought baked Blad’l for the men.” These were then dipped in coffee with jam or butter and eaten together.
Back to the wood-fired oven. Lisbeth’s Pinzgau Blad’l must be deep fried at very hot temperatures. She has had a special cast iron pan made for the oven. Lisbeth uses a poker in the stove-cover hole to pull it to the side and pushes the heavy pan for the Blad’l over the round opening revealing the fire beneath. As the oil in the pan gets hot, Lisbeth rushes to the door of the Rammernalm. Besides me, four young men have also been invited to the Blad’l eating. “The whole effort isn’t worth it for just one person,” Lisbeth argues, which is why she has asked the holidaymakers, who have found accommodation with a neighbour, to join us. They are from the Hamburg region in Germany and are spending a few days in the guest house below the Rammernalm. Philipp, Heiner, Gerrit and the wanna-be movie director whose name I’ve forgotten already tried Lisbeth’s Blad’l a few years ago and were blown away. That is why they are so excited about the delicious food after a mean hangover and a strenuous day out on the slopes.
It’s cosy in the guest lounge. This is very important to Lisbeth Breitfuß. An embroidered still life hangs on the walls of the small, wood-panelled room, the handful of tables are beautifully decorated. The landlady pours me a glass of currant juice spritzer, the men get beer. And soon, Lisbeth needs to get back to the kitchen again, where she finishes up the Blad’l. “Once the oil is hot, the Blad’l are done very quickly,” the blonde landlady announces. This is why drinks and side dishes need to be finished first.
The restaurant has been operating at the Rammernalm since the 1960s. Back then, Lisbeth Breitfuß’ parents-in-law decided to set up a small eatery to provide a rest-point for hikers and winter sports athletes. With the construction of the first Schattberg lift, the area around the Rammernalm also became much more accessible. After her wedding in the mid-‘80s, Lisbeth Breitfuß gradually began taking over the restaurant from her mother-in-law.
Suddenly, the door swings open again. Lisbeth serves the first few Blad’l. First course: freshly baked Blad’l, they look a little bit like croissants. As soon as they cool down, the Blad’l collapse into themselves. The side dish for the first Blad’l is sauerkraut. Before eating, a quick introduction from Lisbeth: the sauerkraut should either be added directly onto the Blad’l which is then rolled up or you can eat the Blad’l with your fingers and then pick up the sauerkraut with your fork and eat it all together. Incredibly yummy. A great combination: dough fried in oil, light and crunchy, with sweet-sour sauerkraut.
Shortly after, it’s time for the second course: Blad’l with potato salad. Lisbeth has added vinegar essence to the potato salad’s dressing, which makes the salad quite sour. This side dish is again a perfect match for the Blad’l. Its dough, incidentally, reminds me of the crunchy crust of spring rolls.
Course number three is the exotic one in the Blad’l bunch. Lisbeth serves the filled Blad’l for which she had previously prepared a filling made of mashed potatoes, bacon and herbs. This one is also served with sauerkraut. Lisbeth Breitfuß has to admit that she especially likes the filled Blad’l. Because the taste reminds her of Tyrolean Gröstl – roasted potatoes with bacon, herbs and fried egg.
And then we finally get to the dessert: courses four and five. As the four men order more savoury Blad’l (and that’s possible because Lisbeth always makes a little more Blad’l than she actually needs), I switch to the sweet creations: Blad’l with icing sugar and blueberry jam, as well as an additional Blad’l with cranberry jam.
Both are incredibly yummy and I’m completely full afterwards. But the men are also impressed. “Absolutely delicious,” says Phillip. The landlady adds that the Blad’l must be eaten while warm. “Later they don’t taste as good anymore.”
I say thank you and proclaim a heartfelt “Vergelt’s Gott” (may God reward it) for this great evening at the small, well-hidden Rammernalm. It certainly won’t be the last time that I visited Lisbeth Breitfuß.
TIP: Those who want to eat Blad’l at Lisbeth’s should call in a day before and reserve a table.