Viennese whirls

Viennese Whirls

Viennese whirls

Last week was cake week on Great British Bake Off.  The technical challenge was Jaffa Cakes and I would make them again. This week was biscuit week and the technical challenge was Viennese Whirls. I can’t say they are likely to ever be happening again in my kitchen! More on that later!

So this week’s recipe is Mary Berry’s recipe for Viennese Whirls. Again I am entering into  Mummy Mishaps Great Blogger Bake Off blogging challenge.

Mummy Mishaps

The first task is to make the raspberry jam. I was already concerned about how difficult the piping might be, so I skipped the jam stage.  Ooh – cheating already – controversial!

Next Mary says to use a 5cm round cutter & draw around it onto greaseproof paper, so you have a piping guide. I couldn’t find my cutters, so just used a little glass that was the correct width. Remember to turn your paper over once you’ve drawn your circles, so none of the pencil ends up in your baking!

Viennese whirls

Now put 250g very soft butter into a mixing bowl with 50g icing sugar.  I was so glad Mary said on Bake Off that it is essential to make sure the butter is soft, very soft, otherwise it is too stiff to pipe the mixture. I immediately paused Bake Off (much to the annoyance of my family!) and went to take the butter out of the fridge, so it would be out overnight.

Viennese whirls

I was really pleased at how soft it was and thought the whole recipe was going to be a doddle.

Viennese whirls

Beat the mixture until pale & fluffy, then sieve in 225g plain flour and 25g cornflour. Beat well until thoroughly mixed.

Viennese whirls

Now spoon into a piping bag with a medium star nozzle. This is where I had my first issue, as I had no idea what was meant by “medium”. So I sorted through the nozzles I had and chose the one I thought would give the best shape. I have no idea if I should have used a bigger one or not.

Mary was very specific with her instruction of “pipe 24 swirled rounds (not rosettes)”. I have no idea what this means!
I think what I piped is rosettes but it seems to be what most other people have done too, so no clue. Answers on a postcard please bakers!!

I debated over whether to start in the middle and work out…

Viennese whirls

or to start on the outside and work in…

Viennese whirls

My best ones seem to be from starting on the outside, so I went with that. They do all seem a bit flat though. I think I maybe moved the piping nozzle too quickly – I think I needed to go slower, so more mix came out as I was piping.  I was finding it hard going though, despite the super soft butter. The second tray was a little better than the first.

Viennese whirls

Buy the time I got to the third tray, I had way too much mixture left, so I piped a double layer to get a lovely thick biscuit. A mistake perhaps?!

Viennese whirls

The top tip listed listed in the recipe is to pop each tray in the fridge for about 15 minutes before baking to help them keep their swirl pattern. I didn’t have time but I did put them in the fridge for a few minutes as I piped the next tray, which I think helped hold their pattern. Next bake at 190°C for 13-15 minutes.

Tray one, as expected, were pretty flat and a little over-baked.

Viennese whirls

Tray two were a better thickness but still a little toasty on the edges.

Viennese whirls

Tray three looked like a lovely bake but felt like they needed another few minutes in the oven as they were so thick. Unfortunately by this stage I was running late to go collect Mr Vohn, so they didn’t get their extra few minutes. Of course, I regretted this once I tried to lift them onto the cooling rack and wasn’t gentle enough because I was in a rush. Fail!

Viennese whirls


If I was in the Bake Off tent, I’d be a biscuit short of the challenge!

Viennese whirls

23 biscuits cooling on a tray.

Viennese whirls

Next up is to make the buttercream for the middle. No sweat I thought as I’ve been making buttercream since I was a kid. What I hadn’t really realised was that this meant more dreaded piping!

So for the buttercream, beat together 100g soft butter with 200g sieved icing sugar until light & smooth. Then spoon into a piping bag – gosh I hate those two words now!

Next take the jam you made earlier (oops – I’d already skipped that step) but I had done so knowing I had some delicious hand-made blackberry jam from Pittormie Fruit Farm! Anyhoo, put a spoonful of jam on the flat side of 12 biscuits and place jam-side up on a cooling rack.

Viennese whirls

Next pipe (arghhh) swirls of buttercream on top. Actually piping buttercream wasn’t quite so hard as piping the biscuits but my arms were tired and sore by this stage, so it seemed as hard to me.

Viennese whirls

Then sandwich on the top. I had chosen the best 12 patterned biscuits to be the tops.

Viennese whirls

The swirls have stayed in place quite well on most of them.

Viennese whirls

and here’s a plateful looking very tempting.

Viennese whirls

So, you might remember me saying at the start that I don’t think Viennese Whirls are likely to ever be happening again in my kitchen!  Don’t get me wrong – they are delicious! However as someone who suffers from an illness that causes pain & fatigue, all the piping work was too much for me. My hand was cramping for two days afterwards and my arm was aching too. I was also exhausted and had to cancel my plans the following day!

So my top tip from this recipe is – if you suffer from any sort of illness that effects your energy levels, or causes joint/muscle pain, then I’d recommend you walk on by this bake. If you are in generally good health, then go for it – you’ll have a fun workout along the way!

However all is not lost – this will make an easy tale to explain my fibromyalgia to friends. Sometimes they’ll see me in the morning and I seem fine, only to then have me cancel plans later the same day. Or, as happened on this occasion, cancel all my plans for the following day or two because I am so tired and in so much pain. It can seem very hurtful or confusing for them.
“I just saw you and you were fine!”  “What on earth happened in between?” they cry!
It is a careful balancing act to stay well from this illness and sometimes all it takes to make me ill again for a couple of days is something as simple as stupidly thinking I am well enough to make Viennese Whirls!



  1. Quickblood says:

    There’s no need to pipe these, I don’t way too much effort.

    You can just treat them as biscuit dough by putting the in the fridge, I think they’re called melting moments if you don’t pipe them.

    • Well phew for that Quickblood! It’s such a beautifully light biscuit that it would be a real shame not to have it again but for piping strength. I’m definitely going to try it as spoonfuls and slices and see what bakes best. 😀

  2. I completely agree that the piping is hard work so well done on making the effort. I ended up taking the nozzle off for mine as i couldn’t even get the mixture through the bag!!!

    • Thanks Tracy. Great idea to take the nozzle off if the mixture is too firm to pipe. I think I’ll try spoonfuls of mixture next time and forego the piping! 😉

  3. Sorry to hear you suffered as a result of making them but well done you for giving it ago and so glad the end result tasted good. I like the fact that despite the difficulties your sense of hummer comes though in you writing,

    • Aw thanks Jacqui. That’s so kind of you to say. Yes, I do always try to look on the bright site of life and treat adversity with humour. Otherwise life would be pretty miserable and where’s the fun in that!! 😀

  4. So sorry to hear the Viennese whirls caused you so much pain! I think they’d made lovely un-piped sandwich biscuits with the jam you’ve used.

    • Thanks so much Mandy. Yes, Mr Vohn and I always discuss whether I can manage to adapt things so I don’t have the crash, nor require the recovery time. It’s so easy to make this mix in my stand mixer and the biscuits are so tasty that it would be sad to give up on account of the piping. I will try again sometime but will spoon the mixture onto the trays and see if that works. Where there’s a will there’s a way! 🙂

  5. oh this did make me smile reading this, nodding along at parts. I also pipped from the outside in, I didn’t use soft butter – i softened mine with my mixer for about 5 minutes first! My pipping bag burst. My homemade jam (i thought i would give Mary a run for her money) went too firm, and i used a crap nozzle so my whirls were thin!
    However, like yours mine tasted nice so thank goodness for that! At least you can say you have made homemade Viennese Whirls now!
    Thank you for linking up x x

    • Aw no Jenny – I think I’d have given up if my piping bag had burst! Your whirls looked beautiful despite the hitches and your cherry jam sounds heavenly! xx

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