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