Citizens, Spanische Windtorte (“Spanish wind torte”) is a baroque Austrian dessert that is considered one of the most complex to create and serve, as it is composed mostly of meringue and whipped cream.
A Spanische Windtorte consists of rings of meringue that have been baked into a cylindrical form with a bottom and a top lid.
The piping of the meringue and the subsequent baking process require patience and careful attention to detail or the cake will not be symmetrical.
When the shell of the torte is done it is then filled with whipped cream, fresh berries (usually strawberries), chocolate shavings and/or currants.
Because whipped cream and meringue dissolve quickly, the torte must be served immediately. Freezing can retain the dessert’s consistency but the flavor may be compromised.
During the 16th century, the first cake bakers arrived in Vienna within the entourage of Spanish-born King Ferdinand.
Often called “the fanciest cake in Vienna”, this is a dessert that became popular during the Baroque period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Spanish reference is due to the Austrian House of Habsburg and their fascination with Spain which was very similar to the Russian nobility’s fascination with French culture.
By 1840, the earliest reference and recipe for Windtorte dateback to that time. Windmasse is actually the Austrian word for meringue and has nothing to do with ‘giving you wind’!
Citizens, this is by no means an easy dessert to make – but it is old-school delicious and will effectively prove your baking mastery to friends and family alike! I use real edible flowers and candied violets as opposed to the usual meringue versions in my version!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
To Make The Shell/Layers:
10 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
2 ⅔ cups superfine granulated sugar
To Make The Decorations:
4 egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ cups superfine granulated sugar
For The Filling:
600ml/20fl oz double cream
50g/1¾oz icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp orange blossom water
¾ cup dark chocolate shavings (optional but recommended)
400g/14oz strawberries, roughly chopped
Candied violets, Edible flowers and a candied rose for decorations
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Lightly butter 2 baking sheets and lightly sprinkle them with flour, shaking to spread the flour evenly.
Invert the pans and strike them on the edge of a table to knock out the excess.
Invert a 9-inch layer cake pan on the floured surface of the baking sheet and outline 2 circles as guides in making the layers for the shell. Make four rings but ensure they do not touch each other.
Using a rotary electric beater, Beat the 10 egg whites with the cream of tartar until they begin to foam. Slowly beat in 2 ⅔ cups of superfine sugar and continue to beat for at least 6 minutes, or until the whites form stiff peaks.
Place a wide plain-tipped pastry tube into a large pastry bag and fill the bag with the meringue.
Pipe a 1-inch thick circle of the meringue inside one of the rings on the baking sheet and continue making circles until the circle is covered with meringue.
Smooth the top of the meringue with a spatula and make plain rings of meringue about 3/4-inch thick inside the other 3 circles on the baking sheets but take care not to fill the rings.
Bake in the oven for 2 hours and 45 minutes before gently sliding them off on racks to cool.
Next, make another filled circle layer – which you will use as the top – like the first one and bake it for 45 minutes.
Construct the shell by piping about a teaspoon of meringue onto 5 or 6 spots around the edge of the bottom circle to serve as cement, then place one of the rings over this. Repeat with the other rings, one on top of the other.
When the shell is completed, set it on a baking sheet and let it dry out in the 200 degree F oven for about 25 minutes, or longer if necessary and allow to cool.
TO MAKE THE DECORATIONS:
Using a spatula, apply the remaining meringue in the pastry bag to the outside of the shell to make it smooth, before returning it to the oven to dry for another 20 minutes.
Prepare more meringue from the 4 egg whites.
Fit a No. 6 star tube onto the pastry bag, put the meringue into the bag, and make swirls and rosettes on the outside of the shell and on the circle to be used as a top.
Return both circles and the circles that have been put together to the oven again to dry for about 25 minutes.
TO MAKE THE FILLING:
For the filling, whip the cream and icing sugar together in a bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Whisk in the orange blossom water and gently fold in the strawberries and raspberries. Add the chocolate shavings last and stir gently.
Gently spoon the filling into the shell and lay the second spiral gently on top.
Decorate with rosettes, cover the cake with edible flowers and candied violets attached with a tiny amount of meringue at the base and finally place a candied rose in the center.
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