The Goal: An intricately constructed, multi-meringued Austrian delicacy.
The Source: Spanische Windtorte
Greetings, people who understand what is best in life! Today, prepare yourself for seeing the word “meringue” a lot. In fact, I’ll desensitize you right now. Meringue meringue meringue!
This is a new and interesting dish you might recognize from one of my favorite shows, the Great British Baking Show. I started by thinking I wanted to create a dish that highlighted different types of meringues, and immediately I remembered this one! It involves a French meringue, which is raw beaten egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar. Additionally, the recipe uses a Swiss meringue, which is created by cooking egg whites and sugar over a pot of simmering water until the sugar dissolves, then taking off the heat and continuing to whisk until it is fluffy and white. I’ve always found the different types of meringues fascinating, so I had a lot of fun with this recipe, despite how fiddly it was.
I’ll be honest with you, the first time I tried this recipe, I made a huge error. I was out of parchment paper, and attempted to bake my first French meringues on wax paper. I know, elementary. For the recipe you are required to pipe out and bake five circles of meringue, but unfortunately they stuck to the wax paper, and I crumbled them all to bits when attempting to remove them.
I was so despairing of my poor crumbled babies that I forgot to take pictures of the disaster, so as far as you’re all concerned, this is a fresh slate! The first step: Making the bones of the cake.
Once it looks right and has come to stiff peaks, get ready for some sticky piping fun. There are a few methods you could use for this process, and mine was simple. I found a bowl around the right size, flipped it over, and traced circles in pencil on the parchment paper. Parchment paper. Not wax paper (you fool). Then pipe following the lines with a star nozzle.
After baking at a low temperature for about forty-five minutes, the meringues should be crispy on the outside, and still white, perhaps a gentle ivory, but no more browned than that. Once they are cool, use the remaining French meringue to stack all the hoops on top of each other. This creates a cake shape – and pandemonium! Definitely be careful, as each hoop was extremely delicate. I suffered a bit of collapse at this stage, so I think if I were to make it a third time, I would pipe the middle hoops more thickly to give them more support.
When you’ve finished stacking, and smoothing the outsides with more meringue, bake for another 45 minutes. While that was baking, I went ahead and made the Swiss meringue. This is a softer, much more marshamallowy meringue, not intended to be crispy. Use this as a decoration to pretty up the sides and top of your windtorte. In my case, I used it in large swirling patterns to cover the cracked bits on the sides, and to augment the decorations on the top. You can also see how the fresh Swiss meringue is a little lighter in color than the baked French meringue below. If this bothers you, just make sure to cover as much surface area with the Swiss meringue as possible. Then, bake it again!
While the almost completed windtorte was baking a final time, I put the finishing touches on the flowers. Traditionally they would be violets, but I didn’t have the right colors for violets – and besides, inventing new flowers is more fun! I found a method of making fondant roses which was astonishingly easy. I bought a box of pre-made vanilla fondant from my local grocery store, and colored two lumps of it with blue and green food coloring. Then I took a little nob of blue fondant and shaped it into a cone to form the center of the flower. Then, cut out teardrop shapes of fondant, thin with your fingertips, and wrap around the center cone in offset layers, until you have something resembling a rose! I don’t have a petal shaped cutter, so I just took a large piping tip and bent it so the opening was shaped as a teardrop. An easy shortcut to save a few bucks, why not? You can use the same cutter for the petals, and the leaves.
I set the flowers and leaves to dry on top of a container in which I keep all of my decorating tips. This helped give the leaves a little bit of bend and curve, like real ones! Also, it kept my flowers from falling over.
Once all your various parts and sugary bits are complete, all that’s left is the delicious filling, and assembly! The filling couldn’t be better, and it’s simple! Just whipped cream, strawberries, and raspberries – add a little sugar, if you like it sweeter, but the meringue all around makes it sweet enough for me.
Finally, spoon the filling inside the windtorte, and place the lid gently on top. There you have it, folks! The end result is a crispy, crunchy French meringue with a little bit of chewiness inside… a soft, marshmallowy Swiss meringue around the outside… and all of it filled with the ultimate combination of tart fruit and cream.
This is a dish to impress your friends and family, with the little flowers as an easy touch to make it special. I wouldn’t recommend it for when you’re in a hurry, but if you ever have a long, luxurious day of cookery and crafting, this is the recipe for you. I will probably make it again, and try to conquer those pesky hoops.
I’m coming for you, hoops! Soon…