How to make Spanish windetorte

To compete in the Great British Bake Off tent is my dream. I’ve always watched the show with a substantial side serving of envy as well as, of course, relishing the sumptuous creations and inevitable baking drama.

Being asked to complete week four’s technical challenge in the delicious. test kitchen is as close as I’ll get to the tent (for the time being) albeit without time constraints, intimidatingly accomplished teenage bakers and  disapproving glares from Paul Hollywood.


How to make Spanish windetorte

My challenge was to make a Spanish windetorte (no I didn’t know either) – an elaborate Viennese dessert popular under the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 17th century. It’s an architectural feat, requiring two different types of meringue, three separate turns in the oven, and a seriously steady piping technique.

My first batch of thick, glossy meringue (thanks to a KitchenAid) was satisfyingly dolloped into a large piping bag ready to squeeze out 3 x 20cm hoops and 2 x 20cm discs of meringue.

The two discs, the base and lid of the torte, proved most problematic. They required a smooth spiralling motion rather than my slightly erratic corkscrew action but with the humidity of London in August helping to hide my clumsy handiwork, the meringue relaxed into place.

meringue discs
Executing the three hoops that would support the torte came easier and I added a couple of extra loops to each one thicken the structure.

Whilst the meringues were crisping up in the oven, I set about making fondant violets. It takes time to tint white icing with three different coloured gels and by the time the meringues were ready, I found myself flower-less and with hands like Papa Smurf. As I rushed to remove the trays from the oven, a few worrying fissures appeared in the meringue shells.

Using the leftover meringue mixture, I started to construct what seemed like the Colosseum of the pudding world, securing the three hoops to one of the discs with small blobs of meringue. I was hoping for imposing grandure rather than underwhelming ruins.

meringue hoops
I then had to give the structure a coat of meringue render (which covered the cracks), then pop it back into the oven for a second time.

The next layer requires Swiss meringue, cooked over a pan of simmering water. I was nervous to make it for the first time but this was to be one of the easiest and quickest parts of the challenge, using an electric whisk on the mixture until it measured 70°C on a sugar thermometer.

Filling another piping bag, I free-styled some decorations as instructed. The Swiss meringue had a much airier texture, like well-whipped cream, which I found hard to transform into pleasing shapes, even with the aid of a star nozzle attachment.

With the meringue mountain back in the oven, I attempted to make up for lost time assembling the violets.

homemade fondant violets
Next up I whipped the cream for the filling, before folding in raspberries and chopped strawberries, then waited for the meringue shell to cool – a luxury I doubt many of the GBBO contestants will be granted.

Finally it was assembly time. With the filling spooned into the centre, the lid was ‘glued’ in place with a little leftover meringue before the violets were placed along the sides and on top.

Spanish windertorte
At first glance a little twee, the Spanish windetorte won me over with its upbeat summery hues and definitely convinced me with its taste. The fruity, creamy centre with a hint of fresh orange prevented the sugary exterior becoming too sickly and the two types of meringue provided a winning combination of crunchy and chewy textures.

Although at first I pondered the point of a pudding that’s essentially an inside-out pavlova, I’d be tempted to make the Spanish windetorte again – but as it took exactly 4 hours and 40 minutes, certainly not under competition conditions… Good luck contestants!

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