Hello again. Oh, what a summer it’s been. A few of you probably saw this post when it went up in July – I’d planned it ahead to post on the day of my viva, but things went awry and the viva ended up postponed until August. As you can tell from the writing here, I’d geared myself up for the event and was thoroughly shaken when it didn’t actually happen. I definitely didn’t think about my blog! And it’s only now that I’m getting back to thinking about baking again – and blogging again too 🙂
So, I’m putting this back up for completeness. I’ll finish off the story of my viva in later posts – I’ve got quite a few new bakes to write up and share…
This is a bit of a sneaky post. Forgive me. The premise of this blog has been me procrastinating about working on my PhD – and if you’re reading this, it means that it’s July 15th and about now I should have finished my viva and know whether or not I’ve passed. (There are only a handful of people in the whole world who knew the date beforehand. It’s daft of me, but I wanted to keep it secret because I have a horrible fear it’s not going to go well.)
Of course, I’ve queued this up in advance so this will probably end up being the post of crushing, heart-breaking, appalling disappointment that has been the subject of every single nightmare I’ve had since I submitted the thesis on March 22nd. It’s not even funny – I’ve had nightmares where I’ve found that the content includes swearwords, where it includes random holiday photos in the place of my graphs and tables, and even where content from this blog got mixed up with the real text!
It’s something of an understatement to say that I am petrified about my viva. Smugly, I had always thought that if anyone gets to the point of submitting the thesis, the viva should just be a ticky-box exercise where friendly examiners chat through the work you’ve done and agree you’re a competent researcher. That might be the case for some people, but I think it’s going to be a bit more challenging for me. I do not expect to pass.
But that’s ok. It has to be. It just needs to be over. I’ve not had much in the way of happiness or relaxation since March. I’m just so scared, all the time. I have had weekends wiped out by panic attacks that take away my ability to think straight. I cry, most days, and I haven’t been able to feel happy, it has been a very long time since I smiled. Every morning, I wake up terrified about my viva, and it’s physically hard to make myself get up and get through the day of my proper-job – which is also difficult and stressful. I’ve been a right royal pain in the arse to my loved ones, friends, family and colleagues because I’m so miserable. (So sorry, all.)
[By the way, there is no counselling or support available for part-time PhD students at the OU. I checked, back in December.]
However today goes, it’s an end where I can stop feeling that my life is constrained, limited, defined and damaged by my choice to do a part-time doctorate. I’ve given up so much, broken so many things, closed off friendships, relied too heavily on friends and family, (and pissed them off mightily, I’m sure!) and probably given up any chance of being a parent. Ten years. For something I honestly expect will be a failure.
Sorry, folks. This is the fear talking 🙂 Either way, afterwards I’m going to get more time to bake!
So. Those brownies I lured you in with in the subject line. These were made exactly three weeks before VIVA DAY. And the scenic photos above were taken that day too. It’s too late to wish me luck, but please be kind if/when the outcome isn’t a pass. Thank you.
Dulche du Leche Salted Caramel Brownies
Here’s the recipe – not mine! The original is at this site: http://maisoncupcake.com/dulce-de-leche-brownies/
- 175g good quality dark chocolate
- 175g butter cubed
- 25g good quality cocoa powder, sifted
- 3 large eggs
- 225g caster or soft light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g plain flour
- ½ of a 397g tin of Carnation caramel or dulce de leche
- Pre heat the oven to 180ºC
- Place the chocolate, butter and cocoa powder in a microwavable dish and cook on HIGH MICROWAVE for 3 mins*. Remove from the oven and stir well, put to one side to cool.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs sugar and vanilla extract together for 2 mins until light and creamy.
- Add the chocolate mix and continue to whisk until well combined.
- Fold the flour through with a metal spoon.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Using a teaspoon add blobs of the caramel all over the surface of the brownies. Then using a sharp knife or skewer, run it around in swirls for a marbled effect.
- Bake in the oven for 25 mins. When cooked it should be dry on top but still slightly gooey and fudgy inside. Don’t be tempted to leave it in the oven any longer.
- Allow to cool in the tin, and then cut into squares.