My favourite three little words at the moment are ‘Academic requirements met’.
I saw that in the subject line of an email that came in on Thursday and it’s one of the best emails I’ve ever been sent! It means, finally, that I’ve done all the work that I need to do, and the OU have decided that my research meets the standards set for a PhD. I can’t quite believe it! At every stage, particularly this year, I’ve been sure that someone official was going to pop up and say ‘You know what, no. Daft idea, rubbish execution, written like a five-year old – we’re pulling the plug.’
But they didn’t! To be honest, I should have known this since August, as I only had some minor corrections to make after my viva but there’s still that nagging bit of doubt. So now they done, and they’ve been checked and I’m good. All I need to do now is get several copies printed and handed in for the library to put on their shelves (!!!) and I’m done.
This is fantastic news for me, of course, but also for my long-suffering husband, because it means I get more time to bake. These are for Jef, with love.
Yesterday, Jef was wondering why, in a world of Lotus biscuit spread, Malteser’s crunchy chocolate spread and nutella, don’t we have a spreadable version of mincemeat that could be used in sandwiches. A fair question – I’ve heard of people spreading leftover mincemeat on hot toast, perhaps with a bit of marzipan grated over the top, for an indulgent Boxing Day breakfast, but the sandwich spread issue seems to be the presence of those lumps of suet. Mincemeat needs heat. So I decided to try a filled flapjack approach to see how that would work.
Mince Pie Flapjack with orange and cinnamon icing (Based on this recipe here)
(Makes 12-16, depending on how large you slice them)
For the flapjack and filling
- Your chosen mincemeat. I made a batch of pies last weekend using half a jar of Waitrose’s spiced mincemeat so allow 200g or so for this flapjack
- 100g mixed dried fruit (I used currants and sultanas)
- 3 tbsp whisky
- 250g butter
- 3 tbs golden syrup
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (I used this cinnamon spiced one)
- 100g light brown sugar
- 500g oats
For the icing:
- 200g icing sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 3 tsp orange juice
- Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC/170ºC fan.
- Charlotte recommends lining a baking tin with greaseproof paper but I had a silicon baking tin so used that instead.
- Put the dried fruit and whisky in a small bowl and microwave for 30-60 seconds, until it steams nicely. (If you were organised, you could just leave it to soak the night before – I wasn’t!)
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and syrups together, stirring occasionally.
- When melted and well-combined, remove from the heat and stir in the oats.
- Make a base layer of the buttery oat mixture in the bottom of your tray, pressing down very firmly.
- Spread the mincemeat in an even layer across the base.
- Drain the boozy soaked fruit and sprinkle over the mincemeat.
- Add the remaining oat mixture and again, press down firmly.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
- While the flapjack is cooling, sieve the icing sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add the orange juice and stir to give a thin icing.
- Drizzle the icing over the flapjacks when they are completely cool and leave to set.
- Slice into 12 or 16 pieces, and enjoy with a mug of tea. Or pose with a twinkly Christmas tree!