Bake Off Challenge – Week 2: Viennese Whirls

Before I get into this weeks’ Technical Challenge, I just need to do a bit of housekeeping which I foolishly forgot to do in the first instalment. To avoid misleading any of my peers, the following must be stated:

  1. The recipes that I use are the full versions available on the Great British Bake Off website. They are not simplified versions (I don’t even know where to get the simplified ones) but they are Mary Berry’s own.
  2. I have not been setting myself a time limit. I am notorious for being a slow cook and for now that is not set to change. Since most of these challenges will be bakes that I’ve never done before, I preferred the idea of taking my time to make something I’m genuinely proud of rather than rushing through blindly and having a gigantic mess. I’ll leave that for the professionals.

Right, now I’ve got that out of the way, let’s begin:


WEEK 2: VIENNESE WHIRLS

Now I do have to start with a confession. I didn’t make my own jam. I know that’s what the recipe called for and I know that’s what the bakers did last week, but where I thought I could just use a simple, straight forward saucepan for making the jam, what I actually needed was something called a ‘deep-sided saucepan.’ Well what difference does that make, you may ask? The truth is I have no idea. But after going a quick Google search and finding that the cheapest jam-making pans were around the £20-30 mark, for a one time only experiment I didn’t really fancy getting one. And so that I wouldn’t risk ruining one of my Mum’s existing pans, a jar of jam will have to do.

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“I must remember to take a landscape photo next time”

This week went a lot better than last weeks’ Jaffa Cakes. I was so much more happier with the presentation of the Viennese Whirls, even if some of them were larger than the others. Admittedly, I didn’t actually make the required 12 either. I ran out of mixture, but that would explain why I had three or four super-sized whirls. I ended up with 10, but if I’d been a bit more generous when piping then I would have easily made the required 12, if not more. At least I was only two off.

The actual recipe is not that difficult (famous last words). The tricky part comes with the piping which I definitely need more practice with. There was a worrying five minutes where my mixture didn’t seem to be coming together and I thought I’d be left with a bowl of very dry breadcrumbs. I must have been mixing it for about twenty minutes or more before it even started to show signs of success and even then took another good beating. When I first put the mixture into the piping bag, it was still too stiff to be used for any actual piping, so I had to spoon it all out and give it another good mix. It turned out to be very messy work.


Words of Advice:

I wasn’t sure whether it would be safe to use an electric whisk to combine the ingredients, but having looked up other recipes afterwards, some do say to use an electric whisk. So if you do have a go and have one, it’s the far quicker and better option.


Now I haven’t done a lot of piping before, not even with icing for decoration. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s far from easy, especially since the mixture was refusing to come out the other end. I think I also made the mistake of working outside-in, which thinking about it was the most illogical way to do it. Working inside out would have worked far better to get a much more even shape. Sometimes I wonder how my mind works. Then other times I just don’t argue. So other than the fact that I was piping the wrong way round, I did manage to get 21 out of 24 swirls, ready to be sandwiched. Paul and Mary would not have commended me on the consistency of the shapes and sizes, but I was pretty damn happy with them.

The rest, again was pretty simple. The filling ingredients combined a lot more easily than the actual biscuit mixture, but it is 70% icing sugar which tastes phenomenal and is a classic case of this is so wrong its good. I topped a bit of the filling onto Biscuit Whirl #21 while I was waiting for the others to cool. Oh it was good.


Words of Advice:

If you only have the one piping bag, wash it and leave it to dry while the swirls are in the oven. Turns out you need it to pipe the filling as well, something I forget right until I needed it. Then it was literally a case of watching a piping bag dry.


I did find it easier spreading the jam onto one biscuit, and then the filling on the other. Mary Berry’s recipe calls for you to apply the jam first and then pipe the cream on top, but I found that when I moved away the piping bag, the cream tried to drag the jam off with it. So instead, I had a plate of jammed biscuits, and another with creamed biscuits, and just sandwiched them together. Not that I mean to correct Mary Berry’s recipe (I would never be so bold) but I found it worked better for me. But then again, this is the person who piped outside-in rather than inside-out.

So there we have it – Viennese Whirls. Currently on top of the Ranking List (sorry Jaffa Cakes) but we’re only two weeks in.

I’ll be eagerly waiting for the Technical today.

And it’s Bread week!



Want to have a whirl at these Viennese biscuits? The recipe is available from the BBC website, but for a shortcut, click here.

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