The Viennese Whirl is a classic biscuit that despite the name, is British through and through. There is nothing remotely Austrian about these biscuits. 

They’re said to be inspired by Austrian pastries, but my crack-team of investigators have yet to find any hard evidence to support this theory! It would seem no one is interested in taking responsibility for creating them, but their point origin has been narrowed down to East Anglia in England. But while we’re here banding around wild theories, it my have been Mr. Kipling himself that invented them! Mr Kipling’s factory is quite a world away from the baroque streetscapes and imperial palaces of Vienna!

To make thing more confusing, the Viennese Whirl seems to come in a variety of forms; fingers, zig zigs and small rosettes. The can be filled with either butter cream or jam or even both. Some have there ends dipped in chocolate, some skip this all together. We have seen some just serve as Viennese Shortbread, no filling, no chocolate just a little icing dusted over the top. It seems in the world of Viennese Biscuits there are no rules! It’s total delicious anarchy!

But regardless of where it comes from, or the endless debate of the correct way to serve them, Viennese Whirls have a whole lot going for them!

Mr Kipling may have the monopoly on Viennese Whirls but that doesn’t mean you have to take it lying down. Like nearly everything, Viennese Whirls taste superior when they’re home made, and they take about as long as it would take to pop to the shops and buy some!

Viennese Whirls are made up of two of the most buttery, melt in the mouth biscuits you will ever have the pleasure of eating. They are then sandwiched together with some simple buttercream and rich raspberry jam. Those biscuits are delicate though, so be careful sandwiching them together. You will need to use your most gentle touch, so that they don’t become crumbs in your hands!

It’s up to you whether you want to go the whole hog and dip them in chocolate as well! I wouldn’t have them any other way!

So whether you’ve got an afternoon tea coming up, or even just an afternoon, these Viennese Whirls are well worth a go!

— Al Brady


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INGREDIENTS

For the viennese biscuits;
225g butter
65g caster sugar
225g flour, sifted

For the buttercream;
120g unsalted butter
225g icing sugar
1.5tsp vanilla essence

To finish;
200g raspberry jam
75g plain chocolate (optional)


METHOD

To make the biscuits:
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour, until combined into a smooth paste

Mark out 5cm circles on greaseproof paper to use as a template. Place the mixture in a piping bag with a large rosette nozzle and pipe into 5cm (2inch) circles or whirls onto a silicone mat, using the the template underneath as a guide. ~Once or the mixture has been piped, place the baking sheet in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up the biscuit dough. This will help keep their shape during cooking. Once chilled, bake the biscuits for 15-20 minutes until a pale golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Cream the butter with the icing sugar and vanilla essence, until very light and smooth. Place into a piping bag with a large rosette nozzle. Pipe the buttercream onto the flat side of half of the biscuits, top with the raspberry jam and sandwich with the remaining biscuits. Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve.

For the chocolate dipped Viennese whirls:
Assemble the Viennese Whirls as normal. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over hot water. Carefully dip each Viennese Whirl halfway into the melted chocolate and leave to set on greaseproof paper.

For the Viennese fingers:
Make the shortbread biscuit dough as above. Pipe the dough into 5cm (2inch) fingers on a silicone mat and chill for 30 minutes. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a pale golden brown and leave to cool on a wire rack. Make the buttercream, place in a piping bag with a rosette nozzle and sandwich the biscuits together in pairs with a little of this. Melt the chocolate over hot water. Dip each end of the biscuits in the chocolate and leave to set on greaseproof paper.


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Short & Sweet

“Shortness” in pastry, or biscuits, refers to its tenderness (or it’s “melt in the mouth-ability” if you want to get all scientific). A biscuits shortness can be influenced by the amount of fat, as well as the amount of sugar, in the dough.

Both fat and sugar minimise gluten development, which results in “short” protein strands and a more tender result.

As the fat is rubbed into the flour; glutenin ( which provides strength) and gliadin (which provides elasticity) are coated with the fat and this acts as a kind of barrier, keeping the two from being able to mix together to form gluten when liquid is added.

The long and the short of it (no pun intended) is that the higher the amount of fat in a dough, the shorter it will be. Keep in mind that this can make it far more difficult to work with, especially when it comes to pastry. So you need to make sure you handle the pastry or dough carefully after it is made.