The Prinsesstårta

This week was half term and one of my best friend’s birthdays, so we decided that there was no better way to celebrate than with a wonderful Autumn dinner party!  I had been particularly inspired by the November issue of the Good Food magazine, as well as the recent Great British Bake-Off that I watched religiously every single week, so decided to go all out and create a 3-course masterpiece and really put my baking skills to the test!  Most normal people would create a menu that involved three relatively straight forward dishes.  However, anyone who knows me will know that I am not a normal person.  I wanted to bake my own bread, fill a whole pumpkin full of cheese fondue, create a vegetarian main dish that everyone would enjoy, and finish with a bang by presenting the hardest technical challenge ever appointed on The Great British Bake-Off: the Prinsesstårta.  Nothing could possibly go wrong, could it?!

The Starter


Homemade Bread with Pumpkin Fondue

The starter was probably the one course that looked like everything was going to be a complete disaster, but in actual fact turned out to be everyone’s favourite!  Firstly, I was well aware before putting it in the oven that I had over-proved my bread.  Secondly, I had baked the pumpkin for an hour and a half and it had filled with tons of water that the recipe in the Good Food magazine made no mention of.  The bottom of the pumpkin then split slightly when emptying it of the water, and the whole thing had to be held up with a bottomless baking tin whilst baking the cheese fondue in it for the last half an hour.  I also had far too much cheese and filling to fit inside of the pumpkin, so had to create the rest of the fondue on the hob.  However, as you can see from the finished result, the starter was a complete success!  The bread, which was a Fabulous Baking Brother’s recipe, was absolutely amazing, especially for my first ever attempt at baking bread.  It was absolutely beautiful in flavour and the fact that the bread was quite thick and heavy worked quite well with the thick cheese fondue.  Everyone also used their spoons to delve into the pumpkin and take chunks of roast pumpkin with the melted cheese instead of putting it onto the bread.  What could be better than an edible bowl?!  The only downside to the whole thing was that it was extremely filling so we were all dreading the main course that had already been put in the oven!

The Main


Roast Vegetables with Halloumi Cheese and Pesto Couscous

One of my best friends is a vegetarian, so the main course had to be suitable for him, especially as it was his birthday!  Sometimes, it can be hard to cater for people who like meat with their main meal when it has to be vegetarian, but I seemed to have catered for everybody with my main dish, as everyone was really happy with it, even if we were all too full to finish it!  Roast vegetables are one of my favourite year-round dishes, and adding halloumi makes a wonderful contrast in flavour and texture.  The halloumi is also a really quick addition, as it only takes a couple of minutes to fry before adding it to the roasted vegetables that have already been dished up.  The couscous also takes less than 5 minutes of adding boiled water until it is soft and fluffy, and lots of pesto to make it super delicious!

Obviously, after all that food, we required quite a long break before embarking on the mountain that was pudding…

The Dessert


Prinsesstårta (Swedish Princess Cake)

Serving my Prinsesstårta cake felt like such a massive achievement.  No one thought that I would be able to produce the cake, let alone as part of a three-course meal that I prepared and cooked entirely on my own!  I think I realised that the biggest part to achieving it all was time management and knowing exactly what I needed to do and when I needed to do it!  Everyone was really impressed with the final product and it really was the perfect cake for a celebration.  The only bit that really went wrong was that I had forgotten to buy the caster sugar to make the marzipan in the morning, so I had to use golden caster sugar instead, which meant that the green food colouring did not take to it as easily.  However, I was extremely happy with it, and the addition of mulled berry jam instead of raspberry jam added a wonderful festive twist to it.

The kitchen may have looked like a bomb had hit it and I may have broken my mum’s new expensive digital weighing scales, but judging from how much we all enjoyed the food, I think it was worth it!  I, personally, cannot wait to host my next dinner party, but I think my parents can!


Chinese New Year

It would have been almost impossible to miss the festivities of Chinese New Year this weekend in London, as lanterns adorned the streets of Soho and dragons danced through the crowds to the beat of drums.


On Sunday morning, the crowds flocked to Chinatown, with everyone eager to catch a glimpse of the dragon parade, the lion dancers, and to sample classic Chinese delights from the shops and restaurants that line Gerrard Street.  Having celebrated with a slap-up meal at our favourite Chinese restaurant, Mr. Kong, in Soho the night before, I was very excited to see what traditional treats would be on offer for breakfast the next day.  I have to say, the choice did not disappoint!  There were sweet buns, pork buns and sweet rice cakes to name but a few, and the queues to sample such pleasures tailed down the street.


For breakfast, I chose the Peanut Twist from Kowloon Restaurant & Cake Shop.  I absolutely adore pastry, and this crumbly, tasty delight was the perfect start to the day, especially as it was so easy to eat whilst wondering around to see what entertainment was available.  The peanut taste was quite subtle and so the pastry didn’t get too heavy too quickly, but you could definitely taste the nuttiness in every mouthful, and it made for an interesting and unusual combo.

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Anyone who missed out on Moon Cake this Chinese New Year missed out on sampling a real traditional Chinese delight, which has grown in its usage as a cake for all Chinese celebrations, but is primarily eaten during the festivities of the Mid-Autumn Festival.  The delicious, decorative crust reveals a thick, rich filling usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste.  Today, I chose the red bean filling, which was being sold outside my favourite bakery in Soho, Golden Gate Cake Shop.  It is very different from the Western cakes which we are used to, in flavour and texture.  The crust is chewy rather than flaky, and the filling is very thick and soft; it isn’t crumbly in the slightest and is almost like a sweet savoury dish.  It is something that I would definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in trying traditional Chinese delicacies, and I’m excited for next year’s festivities so I can try a different filling!

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Chinese New Year in London was a thoroughly enjoyable experience that gave us Brits (and all the other nationalities that make up the diverse population of London) a glimpse into traditional Chinese culture.

This girl and her gorgeous Chinese dress really was one of my favourite sites of the day.

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