I thought Spanische Windtorte would be perfect for challenge 15 – Smell, Sight, Sound, Touch of the Historical Food Fortnightly. Spanische Windtorte (spanish wind cake) is a meringue cake, filled with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
Spanische Windtorte is mentioned in the 1884 letter of Martha Bernays, Freud’s fiancée: ‘I’m going to make you what is considered the fanciest cake ever created in Vienna, the Spanish Windtorte.’ Spanische Windtorte is similar to other meringue – berries – whipped cream desserts, such as Eton mess and pavlova.
I found many similar recipes from the Victorian and Edwardian era, and the 1920s for small cakes made with meringue and filled with whipped cream and berries: ‘White of an egg, beaten stiff; scant one-fourth cup of sugar. Grease paper, draw circle on it. Drop meringue on paper with tablespoon. Bake in moderate oven until brown. When cool, cut tops off, fill with cherries, strawberries or cream. Put tops on.’ (Grayville Cook Book, 1913)
And I even found Victorian recipes for Spanische Windtorte. A recipe from 1835: Grind and sieve 500g to 600g sugar into a fine powder. Beat 11 egg whites in a brass bowl, gently fold in sugar and 1/2 ‘quintel’ (ca. 2g) vanilla powder. Bake the meringue layers for some hours in a not too cool and not too hot oven – it should be possible to easily hold the bare arm in the masonry oven. Fill the Spanische Windtorte with ice cream (raspberry, currant or cherry ice cream), compote, whipped cream, or whipped cream with strawberries.
And a recipe for Spanische Windtorte from 1849: 8 eggs, equal weight of sugar (ca. 400g). Preheat the masonry oven on the day before. Put the eggs on ice or in cold water. Grind sugar with some vanilla bean. Dry sugar over the woodstove, then sieve it. Beat egg whites and put them into a sieve for half of a quarter-hour, so that the watery part of the egg whites can flow off. Then stir in the sugar. Grease springform pans with butter. Use a knife to distribute the meringue as thick as a thumb inside the pans. Then make the meringue rings: as thick as 4 fingers, and 3 fingers in breadth. Bake it overnight in the masonry oven. 1839 Spanische Windtorte recipe: Fill the Spanische Windtorte with lemon ice cream.
- 15 egg whites – I planned to use less egg whites but had to make more meringue to fill the holes of the cake
- 750g sugar (ca. 3 3/4 cups) – I’ve never made a cake with that much sugar! 😉
- 250ml cream (ca. 1 cup)
- 1 or 2 cupful fresh strawberry pieces
- candied violets
Alternative: Dairy-free Spanische Windtorte: Spanische Windtorte can also be made dairy-free: just make more of the meringue mass and use it instead of whipped cream to fill the cake.
Preheat the oven to 100°C/ 210°F.
Beat 4 egg whites with 200g sugar. Draw two circles on the back of parchment paper with a compass or plate. Grease and flour the baking paper: then it’s easier to remove the dried meringue. Spread the meringue with a knife or the back of a spoon inside the circles. That’s the top and bottom layer of the cake. Bake it for about 2 hours.
Then make rings inside the circles: 3 rings are needed for the cake. Beat more egg whites and sugar if necessary. Bake the meringue rings for about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Beat again 4 egg whites with 200g sugar. Glue the bottom of the cake and the meringue rings together with dollops of meringue, and bake it four about 2 1/2 hours.
Fill the holes with more meringue and bake it for 45 minutes. Beat the rest of the egg whites and sugar. Decorate the cake with meringue and bake it again for about 30 minutes or longer. Modern Spanische Windtorte recipes use a different meringue (Swiss meringue) for the cake decoration – Swiss meringue is denser and holds its shape better – but the Victorian recipe uses French meringue for the decoration as well.
Whip the cream and stir in the strawberry pieces. Fill the cake and put the top layer on top.
Originally, Spanische Windtorte is decorated with candied violets instead of the today often used fondant violets. So I used candied violets, which I made a while ago, as cake decoration.
And after about two days of baking, the Spanische Windtorte is finally finished!
Spanische Windtorte is a rich, sweet, decadent dessert which looks very pretty as long as it isn’t cut! 😉