I’m trying to recreate the Bake Off Technical Challenges at home. Each week, I will be discussing how I got on with the bake, posting pictures of some stages, providing my own commentary as well as the recipe, a Bake Off style judging and where I think I would finish and my reflections. Some of the bakes I’m doing before the episode comes out so I’m making a rough guess of how long the bake will take. The bakes which happen after the episode is aired will follow the time given in the episode.
I have only tried making Viennese Whirls once before and they didn’t go very well! So I was slightly worried about doing this challenge. As with all of my GBBO Technical Challenge recreations, I gave myself 5 minutes to study a recipe and will be baking from memory.
For this Technical Challenge, I had to make 8 Coconut Viennese Whirls in 80 minutes, comprising of a short buttery coconut biscuit sandwiched together with a toasted coconut buttercream. *I’m sure that they will be making their own jam in the tent however I didn’t include this process as I knew it would be a tight bake already. It’s confirmed that they had 90 minutes.*
50g Sugar & Crumbs Coconut icing sugar, sifted
250g plain flour
25g desiccated coconut
160g icing sugar
20g Sugar & Crumbs Coconut icing sugar
25g toasted desiccated coconut
50g strawberry jam
Time: 10:40am, 80 minutes remaining. On your marks, get set, bake!
I weighed out the margarine and icing sugar into the mixing bowl of my stand mixer and creamed it together using the paddle attachment for about 2 minutes, scraping it down halfway through.
Time: 10:46am, 74 minutes remaining. Add dry ingredients.
Then I sifted in the flour and cornflour and added in the desiccated coconut. I placed it back on the mixer on a medium speed, stopping as soon as the mixture had been brought together. Then to soften it slightly, I put it on a high speed for 10 seconds.
Time: 10:50am, 70 minutes remaining.
I lined 2 baking trays with a sheet of baking parchment and fitted a large star nozzle into a disposable piping bag. I filled the piping bag with half of the dough and sealed the top of the bag with an elastic bag.
Time: 10:53am, 67 minutes remaining. Piping out the biscuits
I piped out 8 swirls of the dough onto my baking tray. I found it very difficult piping it out as it is such a stiff dough but I managed it eventually. Already I could tell my swirls were quite big and I imagine they will spread slightly in the oven so I left some space between them.
Time: 11:00am, 60 minutes remaining. Chilling the biscuits.
I placed the biscuits I’ve already piped into the fridge for 15 minutes and do a second tray. I remember hearing somewhere that chilling the biscuits before baking helps to keep the definition of the swirl which is what I want. It’s probably not the right thing to do.
Time: 11:03am, 57 minutes remaining. FIRST DISASTER!
As I go to pipe my 4th biscuit on the second tray, the piping bag bursts, the nozzle has come out and the dough is all on my hand. I bring back my bowl and I empty the piping bag into the bowl. I give the nozzle a wash and fill another piping bag and pipe the rest of the biscuits.
Time: 11:14am, 46 minutes remaining.
Crisis averted, I finish piping the second tray and place it in the fridge. I preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Time: 11:18am, 42 minutes remaining. Bake the first biscuits.
I bake the first tray of biscuits for 18 minutes – as you saw, the biscuits are quite thick so this is why they took so long. If you have a thinner biscuit, then bake for around 12 – 15 minutes. They will be golden but shouldn’t be too brown.
Time: 11:23am, 37 minutes remaining. Start the coconut buttercream.
I placed the second lot of desiccated coconut into a sandwich tin in one layer. Bake for 5 minutes, taking it out halfway through to shake around so it doesn’t burn. Once toasted, transfer to a bowl to cool completely.
Soften the margarine in the bowl and then add the icing sugar in 2 batches, until it has been incorporated well, is light and holds its shape. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Time: 11:27am, 33 minutes remaining. Bake the second biscuits.
I move the first tray of biscuits down a shelf in the oven and place the second tray in to bake. I also rotate the trays halfway through as I have a hotspot at the side of my oven.
Time: 11:39am, 21 minutes remaining.
I take out the first tray of biscuits which are now baked and slightly golden. I leave them to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
Set aside a handful of the toasted coconut. Finish off the buttercream by adding in the cooled desiccated coconut and putting it into a piping bag. I put it back in the fridge.
Time: 11:45am, 15 minutes remaining.
The second tray of whirls are baked and they’re on the trays. The other biscuits are currently being wafted.
Time: 11:53am, 7 minutes remaining
I’m wafting the second batch of biscuits as well.
Time: 11:55am, 5 minutes remaining. Sandwiching the whirls
I have matched up the biscuits which are similar sized. I upturn 1 biscuit and pipe a big ring of the coconut buttercream around the edge. I fill the centre with some strawberry jam and then sandwich the Viennese Whirls together. To finish, I sprinkle the set aside toasted coconut on the buttercream.
Time: 12:00pm, 0 minutes remaining. Please bring your Viennese Whirls up to the gingham altar ready for the judging.
So here are my Coconut Viennese Whirls. I am quite happy with the overall appearance of them as they do look like Viennese Whirls but just on steroids! I think this may have been down to my choice of nozzle. I used a large nozzle and this never really spread down in the oven as I thought they would.
This may have been down to the chilling of the dough before baking. I remember back in Series 2 when Mary-Anne made Melting Moments for her Signature bake, Mary made a point of noting that she chilled her biscuits before baking which helped to keep the shape! She wrote about it in her post on her blog which you can find here. But most of the other recipes out there don’t mention chilling at all.
However, the 80 minutes I believe was the perfect challenging amount of time to make these Viennese Whirls including the chilling down process. You had to be quite efficient if you stick to this time limit, but I was also lucky that I had a fan on in the room so the biscuits chilled down a bit quicker.
Like the Jaffa Cake technical, I will be judging my Viennese Whirls on 5 categories, scoring each out of 10. The categories are appearance, the bake, flavour, the texture of the biscuit as a whole and the consistency across the whole batch.
- Appearance: The biscuits themselves are quite big and aren’t really as dainty as they should be. However there is good definition of the biscuit and the biscuits are well matched up in terms of size. They are also nice and golden and the toasted coconut on the edges adds something extra. The piping is good but could be improved especially at the end of the swirls. Score: 8/10
- Bake: The biscuits are nice and golden, although are quite uneven. Possibly slightly overbooked. Score: 5.5/10
- Flavour: The coconut flavour is prominent although more coconut could be added in the biscuits and the buttercream. Score: 6.5/10
- Mouthfeel/Texture: The biscuits are crumbly and do melt in the mouth. They are quite dry which could be done to overtaking. The coconut adds texture and where it’s toasted, a slight crunch too. Score: 7.5/10
- Consistency of the batch: The biscuits aren’t evenly coloured on top however they are all similar sized thickness and apart from poor piping which lead to different shaped whirls, nothing stands out about poor batch consistency. Score: 8/10
Total Score: 35.5/50
Difficulty ranking: 3.5/10 purely for the tight timing and how hard it is to pipe the dough!
Finishing position: 3rd – 5th
These were by no means perfect. The size of the biscuit is larger than the Mr Kipling equivalent but I wouldn’t complain when it’s eaten with a tea or coffee! I wish the coconut flavour in the biscuits was stronger and in the buttercream. Having said that, the texture of the biscuits was spot on, they were crumbly and melt in the mouth and they were still very tasty. I still wonder about the effect of chilling the dough before baking would have. The piping was by far the hardest bit of the bake. I spent a good 10 minutes piping in total and I can’t remember any time that I’ve ever had a piping bag burst on me before! If I were to make these again, I would experiment with a different nozzle as well as finding ways to make the dough softer and easier to pipe such as adding some milk.
Rankings of the Technical Challenges:
- Coconut Viennese Whirls, Biscuit Week, 35.5
- Jaffa Cakes, Cake Week, 27
Remember to check out what the rest of the Biscuit Week challenges are here!