Post Hoc

In the galvanising spirit of New Year optimism, I set myself an arbitrary challenge. These are my invented rules: shut eyes, pull book from shelves – it turns out to be The Dictionary of Difficult Words – slap right index finger down somewhere on random page. Whichever word or phrase I land on will provide the material for both something to eat and a semi-coherent set of ideas. And the phrase is, honest truth…… post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

I don’t like to admit defeat, so here we go. The meaning of post hoc, ergo propter hoc is ‘a phrase to point up the error in logic of confusing sequence with consequence.’ The literal translation, in case you’re slightly baffled is: don’t be daft enough to think that just because it happened after this, that it happened because of this.

The phrase is designed to detach what happens from the events that lead up to the event.  I don’t want to sound smug, but I think I’ve found a way round the argument. I’ve just been to Austria and when I came home, post hoc, I made the sweet Austrian delicacy of Kaiserschmarrn. But if I hadn’t been to Austria where I was told about the recipe by my godson Arthur, I would never have made Kaiserschmarrn because I would never have heard of it. If that’s not a solid case of identifiable and justifiable propter hoc, I don’t know what is.

And if an Austrian winter tree smothered with snow doesn’t inevitably come after an autumn tree covered with leaves, and isn’t followed by a massive stack of firewood, then I’ll eat my thermal vest.

Kaiserschmarrn, with its over-generous supply of consonants, should, of course, be in The Dictionary of Difficult Words itself. It apparently means The Emperor’s Muddle, although no-one knows precisely why.  Essentially, it’s a sweet pancake, but it’s cut up into little squares in the pan as it cooks. That way the chef makes enough for six people at once, rather than standing forlornly at the stove making one pancake at a time and losing the will to keep going after pancake number three.


  • 60 g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g flour
  • 150 ml full cream milk
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Pinch salt
  • Handful sultanas
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • Sprinkling of caster sugar


Whisk the eggs until frothy. Sieve the flour into the milk and whisk in as much air as possible before adding the salt, lemon zest and eggs. The batter will be the consistency of double cream. Melt 30 g of butter in a frying pan on a low to medium heat. Pour the batter into the pan and allow to cook for a minute or so until brown on the bottom. Scatter the sultanas over the pancake and then turn over using two spatulas. With a wooden or plastic spoon, and while the pancake is still in the pan, slice it across and down into small squares. Melt the remaining butter and caster sugar into the pan and stir it around so that everything is coated. Tip the squares out onto a plate and dust with icing sugar. Serve with fruit compote of whichever kind you like best.   

Post the pancake you will be happy. Propter, Kaiserschmarrn is good. Ergo, Arthur deserves a lifetime’s supply.



  1. I loved your Post hoc post. I reckon you could hang a delightful culinary piece around pretty well anything from the Dicionary of Difficult Words or any other source for that matter. Kaiserschmarn is certainly a German pantechnicon of a word worth remembering – and eating from the look of it. Wonderful.

    1. This one was a slight stretch, but I’m glad if it entertained you. It’s hard to know when I’ll be able to drop post hoc ergo propter hoc into a conversation, but never say never.

  2. Love post Charlie and a wonderful idea!! Yes Kaiserschmarn is special to little boys – Jasper made his first in the kitchen of an inn in Bavaria when he was around 10, with cooks hat at the big restaurant stove and all! he couldn’t have been prouder!

    I can’t to see/read where your finger takes you next!
    xox Karin

    1. What a wonderful memory, Karin. Fantastic. I’m ashamed to say that until Arthur introduced me to it, Kaisershmarrn was an undiscovered gem.

  3. I enjoyed your post Charlie. It cheered me up on a cold, dark morning as the children start back at school. They would love those pancakes.

    1. I’m glad it did a bit of cheering. It was so gloomy this morning that I thought I’d set my clock wrong and was sending my children to the school bus stop at dawn.

  4. this is my favourite of all your posts charlie, its really warming, especially that huge bundle of firewood, and a great way to get around the pancake problem!

    1. That’s very kind of you, Boinsey. I can’t help but feel sorry for the person who had to do all the stacking, but it’s a very beautiful pile.

  5. Just when I don’t think you can get any better… you do! Sequence or consequence? I actually laughed out loud – guffawed, if you will, as I arrived towards the end of the post. Absolutely brilliant as well as charming as ever. And the Emporer’s Muddle looks quite yummy.

    Ahhh… I could just sit and bask in the verbiage of your blog.

    1. I will take your wonderful comment as cheering proof that I haven’t tipped off the diving board of sanity into the deep pool of incoherence! Thank you Jamie as ever – I feel galvanised for the next post now xx

    1. Good to know you think it’s Q.E.D! I love the look of your version. I suspect it will have a lighter, airier texture than mine – I’m definitely going to give it a try. Cooking pancakes for more than two people is such a pain, isn’t it.

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