My name is Heather McCollum, and I have an obsession… with the British Baking Show. During Season 3, one of the technical challenges was a Spanische Windtorte, given to the contestants by Mary Berry. The creation is an Austrian dessert made of rings of meringue with whipped cream and berries in the middle. Wikipedia calls it “one of the most complex to create,” which reminds me that the internet is not always accurate. Yes, looking at it might make you think it is complex and way out of your baking comfort zone, but in reality, it is not very difficult to make.
So, if you, like me, have someone in your life who loves meringue and want to impress the heck out of them, follow along. I’ll walk you safely through it.
Mary Berry’s Spanische Windtorte (with commentary and tips by Heather McCollum)
Things you should have:
Stand mixer (you can use a handheld, but it will take longer to fluff those egg whites)
Parchment paper & pencil
Plate or circle to trace that is approximately 8 inches in diameter
3 cookie sheets
A plate that can withstand an oven temperature of 250 degrees F
2 frosting piping bags
5/8-inch piping nozzle/tip (I got away with 1 star tip but the recipe says 1 plain tip & 1 star tip)
Time (If you’re rushed, choose a different recipe. I don’t think this is labor intensive, but it does take several hours for the slow baking of the meringue.)
Have I lost you already?! But really – it’s not too hard. I’ll hold your hand through it.
French Meringue (it sound intimidating, but it’s easy)
8 large egg whites (get the yolk out with a spoon if you drop some in)
½ tsp cream of tartar (this is a great spice to have for baking Snickerdoodle cookies later)
1 pound & 1 ounce caster sugar (caster sugar is just white sugar that is finer grit. You can buy it at specialty super markets like Fresh Market, Whole Foods, or places that sell British food. I used regular white sugar for this, and it turned out fine)
Swiss Meringue (who knew there were different meringues? It’s a little stiffer so you can use it for decorating the cake)
4 large egg whites
9 ounces of caster sugar (this time I used caster sugar, but I think the regular sugar would work too)
Filling & Decorations
20 fl ounces of heavy cream or whipping cream
1 ¾ ounces powdered sugar
1 tsp orange blossom water (Something I’m sure we all have in our refrigerators! No? LOL! I used a few drops of orange extract, but I read that orange juice can also be used. Just be sure to only add a little though.)
14 ounces strawberries, roughly chopped
7 ounces raspberries (you can really use anything you want whipped into the cream – chocolate shavings, blueberries, anything that goes with the slight orange flavor in the cream if you add it)
Little flowers to place on top for decoration. The bakers on the show had to make their own flowers out of fondant, but I bought mine at my local craft store. But you can go right ahead and make your own. I’m sure there’s a YouTube video on it.
Small tube of icing to act as “glue” for flowers
How to Make It:
- Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper (cut it out to fit just right). Draw five 8-inch diameter circles on the curling up side of the paper with a pencil. Turn the paper over on the cookie sheet (you don’t want to pipe meringue onto the pencil). You can still see the circles through the paper, and the paper won’t curl up on you.
- Preheat oven to 248 degrees (that’s what it says, but you can do 250 degrees if 248 messes with your OCD).
- Break the eggs for the French meringue into a bowl, making sure to get out ALL the yolk. Put egg whites and cream of tartar into a spotlessly clean mixing bowl and whisk with an electric beater on high speed until whites form stiff peaks. Add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time while whisking to make a thick, glossy meringue.
- Spoon 2/3 of the mixture into a piping bag with the plain nozzle attached. (It is sticky, but it’s going to be okay). Pipe a thick ring just inside the pencil mark of one of the circles on the baking sheet. Continue piping in a spiral inward until the entire circle is filled in. Repeat with a second circle (but NOT all of them). These are the base and the lid of the cake.
- Repeat the piping for the 3 remaining circles BUT DON’T FILL THEM IN. These will look like 3 hoops of meringue, which will create the sides of the cake. Bake all five circles for 45 minutes each. Remove from oven and leave to cool. (This takes time if you only have one oven.)
- If you are making your own fondant flowers, this would be a good time to do it.
- When the meringues are dry and cool, gently slide 1 of the filled-in circles onto the heatproof serving plate (this is what you will be serving it on so choose wisely). Spoon the remaining meringue into a piping bag (I kept mine in the refrigerator while baking, including the piping bag with tip). Pipe about 8 blobs of wet meringue onto the edge of the base circle (to act as glue), and place one of the meringue hoops on top, pressing down gently.
- Repeat with the other two meringue hoops to build the cake walls. Pipe the remaining French meringue around the sides in the cracks of the hoops. Use a spatula to smooth the sides around to look like a cake on the outside. Bake on the serving plate for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
- Make the Swiss meringue as follows: (it is pretty easy if you have a candy thermometer). Set a large mixing bowl (which you’ll be whipping it in) in a pan of gently simmering water. (I used a large pot of simmering water, but I should have used a pan)
- Separate your 4 Swiss meringue eggs (get the yolk out) and put them and the sugar into the large mixing bowl (no cream of tartar in this one) and whisk by hand until the sugar dissolves and the mixture reaches 158 degrees F on the candy thermometer. I watched mine very carefully and stopped as soon as it reached the 158 mark. Be careful while whisking around the thermometer.
- Remove from heat and whisk with the electric mixer until the meringue is cool and stiff. Spoon into a fresh piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe a pretty border around the base edge and the middle of the walls going around. Also decorate the filled-in “lid” of the cake (which has been sitting off neglected while the rest of the cake baked again).
- Bake both the cake and the lid another 30 minutes on 248 degrees F. Remove from oven and cool.
- Make the filling. Whip the cream and powdered sugar together until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Whisk in the orange blossom water and then gently fold in the berries by hand. Spoon into the cooled meringue cake shell. Top with the meringue lid.
- Decorate with the flowers. I used tiny dabs of store-bought icing in a tube as glue. The recipe says to use meringue, but then you don’t bake it again, and I don’t like to use raw eggs.
- Serve immediately. If you aren’t going to serve right away, hold off on placing the whipped filling into the meringue cake until you are about to serve. Otherwise it can make the meringue soggy. No soggy bottoms allowed : )
Okay, writing it all out… it does feel like a lot. But when I was doing it, it was much easier than I’d thought it would be. The key is to give yourself time and have a back up plan. I had a frozen Pepperidge Farm cake in the wings if this went kablooey. But it turned out fabulous, and my mother was awed by my meringue-whipping ability – LOL!
If you give it a try, let me know how it goes. For my first time making it, I was amazed at how easy it truly was. So, don’t believe everything you read online! I’m looking at you Wikipedia!
Happy Whipping! Heather
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Englishwoman Evelyn Worthington is resolved to build a school for ladies in her brother’s newly purchased Scottish castle. But when she arrives, not only does she find the castle scorched by fire, but a brawny Highlander bars her entry.
Clan chief Grey Campbell would rather die than see his family home, Finlarig Castle, fall into English hands, so Grey must win the battle of wills with the beautiful Sassenach who flashes a bill of sale before him.
When the war between Evelyn and Grey escalates, passions flare. But outsiders have their own plans for Finlarig. After secrets are revealed, and muskets are lit, the fates of the Campbell Clan, the school, and a possible future for Grey and Evelyn are in as much jeopardy as their lives.
Heather McCollum is an award winning, historical paranormal and YA romance writer. She earned her B.A. in Biology, much to her English professor’s dismay. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood of 2009 Golden Heart finalists. The ancient magic and lush beauty of Great Britain entrances Ms. McCollum’s heart and imagination every time she visits. The country’s history and landscape have been a backdrop for her writing ever since her first journey across the pond. When she is not creating vibrant characters & magical adventures on the page, she is roaring her own battle cry in the war against ovarian cancer. Ms. McCollum recently slayed the cancer beast and resides with her very own Highland hero, rescued golden retriever & 3 kids in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.