Dissertation Diaries: What to do once you’ve finished your proposal

Hey guys! If you’ve been reading my posts on Sundays, you’ll know that I’ve moved on from recipes (though I will still be posting them up on my blog from time to time!) and towards writing about my dreaded dissertation in something I’m calling my “Dissertation Diaries”.

My first entry was all about how I was feeling about my dissertation which, SPOILER ALERT, wasn’t too fantastic. Even though I knew full well I’d join loads of students actually going to the library to fret over secondary material, it hasn’t felt real until now and- as my first entry will tell you- I’m pretty terrified about that!

In my second entry I talked about getting passed the so-called “planning stage”. I don’t have those pens to colour code everything, or the cute Paperchase notebooks other students have (only because I wouldn’t be able to pick between the choices!), but I just get stuck going over paragraph after paragraph so often I forget about the end result: a completed thing!

Luckily, today’s post is a bit more encouraging! It felt like it took a long time but, I’m happy to report, my dissertation proposal is done! I’m by no means over the moon with it but I’m glad I’ve got it done when, a few weeks ago, all I’d written was a possible title and the word “Plan”.

Of course, rather than put my feet up just yet (though I have, regrettably, indulged in watching Gilmore Girls and The Inbetweeners this week, when I probably could have done some work!), the big one- the 8000 word dissertation every student dreads- is still looming! So, with that in mind, I thought I’d talk about what to do once you’ve finished your proposal:

Start thinking about what you want to say in your actual dissertation

A proposal is basically a poshed-up draft, where you talk about what you’re planning to do when you actually come to write. Of course, sometimes, what you’ve written in your proposal and what you write in your final work is pretty different. So, with that in mind, (I don’t want to say plan, given the fact I’ve just written a post about moving from it!) think about what you want to say in your actual dissertation- get an idea of secondary reading, get to grips with your chosen text(s) and think about an overall theme/idea you’ll refer back to.

Read, read, read

I said about this in my first post, so I apologise for repeating myself, but this is really important. I know students rely on things like Spark Notes to get them through, which I won’t knock as a source as I’ve used it myself (for background information) before, but it’s different for your dissertation.

You actually have to know your texts and, whatever way you look at it, this will mean you’ll be reading things other than one-page summaries. So, head over to the library and get yourself into some books- you’ll be surprised what you learn and how useful books can actually be!

Think about chapters

I know this seems difficult considering many people aren’t set in their ideas but, if you brainstorm possible chapter titles, you’ll feel good.

Look at previous examples

Even though the dissertation subjects had no similarity to mine, I found myself looking at some examples the module leader for our dissertation had sent over.

Whilst they may not give you an idea where to go for your proposed idea, looking at how a dissertation is structured is incredibly helpful because, let’s face it, many of us won’t have seen one before.

Use your teachers

Ok, ok, I’ll admit, this isn’t an original tip at all…I actually took this from our dissertation module leader. He’s right though, your tutors aren’t just those people whose seminars or lectures you may (or may not) attend. They’re actually people and, even better, they’re people who know their stuff.

Odds are if you’ve submitted your ideas, your supervisor will be matched to you considering the fact that you’re writing about their area of expertise.

The Great British Bake Off Week 10

It’s the FINAL (ok, deep breaths, guys!) of the Great British Bake Off. Can you believe after 10 weeks of tiers, tears and tension in every Brits favourite tent the competition is over? (I definitely can’t!).

(For my thoughts on the previous weeks: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9)

Twelve entered the tent but only Kim-Joy, Rahul and Ruby had what it takes to impress Paul and Prue and make it to the final. Plus, the baker’s families and friends were in attendance, and some very familiar faces, too! Long story short, the final of this year’s The Great British Bake Off was exciting, very exciting indeed!


The bakers

As we’ve seen over the past nine weeks, Kim-Joy, Rahul and Ruby have demonstrated skills, fantastic flavours and- most importantly- that they’re all worthy to compete in the final!

The challenges

The final began with the Signature Challenge, which saw the bakers make 12 doughnuts: six ring, six filled. The final three produced various flavoured doughnuts and, I’ll admit, they all looked delicious. Kim-Joy’s had great flavour, but they weren’t uniform. Ruby’s were too sweet and underfilled. Rahul, who has never eaten a doughnut, produced good, but tight, doughnuts.

Going into the Technical, the competition was pretty tight, too. For this challenge, the bakers were out of their comfort zones…and out of the famous tent! Whilst outside, they braved the elements (and an open fire) to craft 6 Pitta breads with three dips. Honestly, I’m amazed there wasn’t any catastrophes given the whole open fire thing but, honestly, the three bakers actually survived the challenge and produced acceptable bakes.

After I wiped the last tear from my eye, I was able to see that the Showstopper (the final one for this series) was to create a landscape dessert with 3 elements. Unusual challenge, right? The bakers produced an equally unusual set of landscapes: a magical one, a trip to Atlantis and a beautiful garden. Now, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t actually that impressed. There was a slip up very early on, so that affected performance, but I honestly don’t feel as though the Showstoppers were as impressive as previous years (maybe I’m just bitter because the competition’s over?). Even considering that though, I admire the final three for the work they did and their results.

The result

Despite the fact I had Ruby in the sweep with my friends, and the fact that I very passionately argued for Kim-Joy to win (so ‘Person I argued with over this’, I am eating my words, you win this one!), I think we all (even me) knew what the final result would be.

After all, Rahul has been front runner from the start. Even when Dan looked like he could win it, and other people (like Kim-Joy, Ruby, Manon and Briony) looked like they were onto a winner, I think Paul and Prue knew there could only be one winner. Though it’s not exactly the result I wanted (because everyone wants bragging rights), I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Rahul and I hope he can finally crack a smile now he’s out of the tent and the pressure’s no longer on!

Well, everyone, that’s it! The Great British Bake Off, over for another year. I, like the bakers, will hang up my apron…for now. Of course, you can still expect plenty of posts from me on all things books, baking and being a student. Plus, if you can wait that long, I’ll (more than likely) be posting my thoughts on The Great British Bake Off 2019 before we know it!

Halloween cupcakes and spiderweb shortbread

Hey guys!

Considering it’s not long at all until Halloween, I thought I’d post not one but TWO spooky treats you just have to make this year and, trust me, they’re scary good!

Whether you’re hosting a Halloween party, looking for something to do with the kids or just in need of a treat for a Halloween movie marathon, these two recipes are ideal for whatever you’ve got planned.

I’ll start with the Halloween cupcakes first. Delicious chocolate cupcakes, just a little buttercream with a spooky marshmallow character on top, what more could you want?

Of course, you can customise the cupcakes how ever you like: change the flavour (red velvet would be a particularly spooky choice) or the decoration (I’m dying to try out the new chocolate decorating pens I’ve seen dotted around the shops!).

Here’s how a few simple ingredients make these delicious cupcakes:


For the cupcakes:

110g butter

1tbsp cocoa powder

110g self-raising flour

110g caster sugar

2 eggs

For the decoration:

1 bag of marshmallows

Food colouring (red, yellow and green)

Black decorating icing


1. Preheat your oven to 170c and line a cupcake tin with cases.

2. Combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Next, add the eggs until light and fluffy.

4. Once combined, add the cocoa powder and flour, mix until combined.

5. Bake for 15-17 minutes and allow to cool.

6. For the decoration, combine the yellow and red food colouring and coat some of your marshmallows then draw on eyes, nose and a mouth plus a stalk at the top of your marshmallow- there you have a pumpkin! For your zombies, coat the marshmallows in the green food colouring and draw on the eyes, nose, mouth and stitches with the decorating icing. For ghosts, draw on the eyes and mouth. To stick the marshmallows on your cakes, you can make a buttercream or use icing (depending on how much time you have)!

Here’s how they turned out:

Last Halloween I went a bit baking crazy (probably to substitute being “too old” to go trick-or-treating) so, as well as the cupcakes, I made spiderwebbed shortbread.

Unfortunately, I ran out of the black icing when I came to make these so, as a result, I created red and green spiderwebs (which are super cool, if you ask me!).

Here’s how a few ingredients make these spidey shortbreads:


87.5g butter

90g caster sugar

135g plain flour

Green and red icing (though you can obviously use black!)


1. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add in the flour and mix slowly until they come together.

2. Turn the mixture out onto a workshop and roll out the dough until it’s about 5cm thick (TIP: Flour your surface so the dough doesn’t stick, now that’d be scary!) then put in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.

3. Preheat your oven to 170c and cut your dough into circles using a cutter (though you can use a glass, as I did).

4. Bake the shortbread for 12-15 minutes, then leave to cool.

5. Once cooled, decorate by piping the cobweb shape on the shortbread (they don’t have to be perfect!) and enjoy.

Here’s how they turned out:

I’ll be baking for this year’s Halloween celebrations, too, so no doubt pictures (and recipes) will be up on my blog next week. What will you be baking this Halloween/ what’s your favourite thing to make for this occasion?

The Great British Bake Off Week 9

It’s the Semi-Final of everyone’s favourite baking competition (just my favourite? Ok) and, so far, it’s been quite the competition! There’s been plenty of heat, helping, Hollywood handshakes and amazing flavours and designs.

(You can read my thoughts on the previous weeks: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7 and Week 8)

For the penultimate week of the competition, the bakers faced Patisserie Week: the kind of week which has me wishing I was in Paris, face in window of a cake shop drooling (and probably getting funny looks from onlookers). Paul and Prue were picky over patisserie, as expected and there was plenty of action in the tent.


The bakers

The stakes were high this week and, as suspected, the pressure really got to the bakers. Each had a few blips, but I think Ruby came out on top.

The challenges

Patisserie Week began with the Signature Challenge, which saw the bakers make 24 dipped Madeleines. Lemon ruled the day, with all bakers using the citrus in their bakes.

Of course, Paul and Prue were picky over the Madeleines- criticising the bakers flavours and techniques. All I knew was that I wanted one…or one too many!

Next came the Technical Challenge, which saw the bakers make a Torta Setteveli. This was the longest ever Technical and proved extremely…well, technical. There were a lot of components to this bake and so a lot of pressure! Despite the difficulty, most of the bakers got through the challenge in one piece…or in pieces.

Rather than a nap (which the bakers definitely deserved!), the Showstopper Challenge came next. This challenge saw the bakers make a Parisian window filled with 36 pastries (Mill-Fueille, choux pastry and pate sucree). Things got a little bit salty in this challenge, as a few bakers found themselves subbing sugar for salt (by mistake, obviously!) but- even so- the bakers produced some delicious looking bakes.

The result

I wasn’t too shocked with the result this week, I’ll tell you that. I mean, I do think Kim-Joy looked as though she could’ve scooped the prize. Of course, given what she made, Ruby did deserve Star Baker.

I’m actually pretty sad about Briony leaving this week. I think she’s been brilliant throughout the competition and I did think she could’ve made it to the end.

So, there we have it! Nearly 10 weeks of baking based drama done, I can’t believe it! Next week, the winner of The Great British Bake Off will be crowned…how exciting?

(Who do you want to win?).

That’s it from me, for now, but the third entry of my Dissertation Diaries will be up on Sunday.

The Great British Bake Off Week 8

Can you believe it’s the quarter final already? (I definitely can’t!). The competition stepped up a notch as the final five battled for a place in the semi-finals, in rather cheery Hawaiian shirts (as an ode to Jon, who left the competition last week) but- as Paul and Prue got critical- the atmosphere in the tent got a little sad.

(You can read my thoughts on the previous weeks: Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6 and Week 7)

This week, the bakers said ‘Velkommen’ to the tent’s first ever Danish Week. This week saw the bakers dish up delicious Danish delicacies and, as usual, Paul and Prue picked each offering apart showing the stakes really were high for the quarter final.


The bakers

The bakers weren’t exactly familiar with the ingredients and recipes put to the test but, even considering that barrier, most of them did pretty well. This week (cue the gasps) there was NO Hollywood handshake(s) even though, at least in my opinion, some bakers did actually deserve them.

Kim-Joy continued to produce wow worthy bakes, Briony showcased her skills and Ruby (who I’m glad to see still going strong, even if it just feels like she’s there for Paul Hollywood to flirt with) proved she was a contender.

The challenges

Danish Week kicked off with a sandwich-y Signature Challenge, in which Paul and Prue asked the bakers to make two varieties of Smorrebrod which- I was happy to find out- is basically a fancy open sandwich. They had to use Danish rye bread for the sandwich part, but had free reign to fill it with what ever they wished.

The bakers produced a variety of scrumptious sounding sandwiches, featuring tomato swans, a post work-out wonder, the cutest little bees and a Smorrebrod with enough toppings to feed the entire tent (and then some). Most of the bakers impressed, but nobody managed to bag themselves a Hollywood handshake (so it seems, Bread Man Paul isn’t that fussed on sandwiches after all!).

Next came the Technical Challenge, which saw the bakers create 14 Danish aebelskiver, a doughnut/pancake hybrid featuring cinnamon and apple (I never knew I wanted it, but I do). The challenge started with the bakers, unsure what 90 degrees looked like (Maths isn’t my strong point, so I’ve probably been there, too!) but- eventually- they got to grips with the challenge and (minus a few exceptions) produced absolutely amazing looking aebelskiver.

Finally, it was Showstopper time! What do you make for a Showstopper on Danish Week? Well, human shaped pastry (Kagekona) traditionally eaten on birthdays or other occasions, of course!

The bakers made various Kagekonas, one for royalty, two for friends, one for a sister and one for a Nan. Though each person looked delicious, the bakes weren’t short of problems and- gasp, shock, horror- there were a few more ‘F’ bombs dropped in the tent from the person we all least expected.

The result

When it came to the result, I was shocked. After predicting the result perfectly last week, I couldn’t have been more wrong (on both results) this time around. Ruby emerged from behind the scenes to pluck the Star Baker crown from Kim-Joy’s grasp (despite her and/or Briony deserving the accolade this week, I think). The biggest shock, though, was the baker chosen to leave the tent.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Manon did perform poorly this week but- really- it wasn’t fair for the judges (Paul in particular) to penalize her for being French and (despite his previous performances in the tent) Rahul couldn’t hack the challenges this week so (with that in mind) he should have gone home.

Even though I should stay loyal to Ruby, I think my money’s on Kim-Joy to win (although Briony could do it, too, and I wouldn’t mind at all if she did). As usual, though, you never know what’s going to happen- it really could be anyone’s game.

Next week, the fab four face Patisserie Week, the Semi-Final!

That’s it from me, for now, but you can expect the second entry in my Dissertation Diaries on Sunday when- hopefully- I’ll talk about the progress I’ve made this week (fingers crossed, eh?)

Dissertation Diaries

Hey guys!

I know you’re probably thinking “where’s today’s recipe post?” considering that’s what you’re used to seeing on this blog on Sunday. However, I wanted to move away from posting baking content so much and towards something I talk about in my “About Me” section.

As well as an avid baker, and book lover (I’m sure you’ll find out in the future!), I’m also a student at Liverpool John Moores University. I’m loving my time there so far, learning more about my chosen subject (English Literature) and myself (like the fact that I will always fret about getting assignments done and I will almost always get them done early!).

In order to get a feel for uni life, or at least my uni experience, I thought I’d start posting my “Dissertation Diaries” , where I’ll keep you updated with how I’m feeling, any obstacles I’m facing (or any good things I’ve found) and the all important word count. It’ll be a place for me to vent and let off some steam but, also, I hope it’ll be a place for people who haven’t got there yet (or are in the process) to realise that your Dissertation actually isn’t as bad as you think!

It’ll be four weeks ago this week that I sat down for my first dissertation related lecture and meeting with my advisor. I was incredibly scared at that point, as (even though I’ve known that I had to do it since I got to uni) there’s been little mention of the dreaded D word until now. I mean, if someone told you to write an 8000 word essay, you’d feel panicked too, right?

My love of Victorian novels I’d developed on the course meant that, if I only knew one thing about my dissertation, I knew I wanted to write about Victorian fiction. This led me to choose Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Woman in White.

Where did I go from there? I thought about how they linked, in the way that they all show mental illness in women and- in my eyes- place has an impact on the women’s mental states.

At the minute, my dissertation is in the planning stages. A proper proposal is due November 2nd, which I’m nervous about (considering it’s not done and I’m worried I won’t be able to convey my ideas and research in the way I want to). Instead of letting it get the better of me, I’m just going to go for it and see how it goes- it counts for 10% of my final grade, which feels scary. BUT I know that either it’ll work out well and I’ll feel great going into the main part (writing the actual thing) or I’ll know what I need to work on.

At the minute, I’m living by three R’s:

Number One:

“Read”: You know what people say, you write better when you read a lot. So I’m reading a lot. I’m going to read around my subject more, read about how to structure my proposal more and just read, read, read!

Number Two:

“Research”: After all, you can’t write about something you’ve not researched. It means I’m revisiting some stuff I’m familiar with but, also, I’m looking at new perspectives in terms of my chosen books and ideas.

Number Three:

“Relax”: I know it sounds like I’m defeating the object but, as well as working really hard, you’ve got to make sure to give yourself some time to unwind, recharge and relax. This also works for if you get yourself in a bit of a flap over your dissertation (which I have, and will still do), relax. It feels scary at the start but, eventually, you’ll start feeling better in yourself and your ideas.

So that’s this week’s Dissertation Diaries done. At the minute, I feel a little bit stressed about it but- as hard as I can- I’m trying to let myself not be stressed.

That’s me, for now, but you can still catch my thoughts on the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off on Tuesday!

Current word count: 0 (still planning)

The Great British Bake Off Week 7

The tent was free of dairy this week but there was still plenty of tiers, tears and tension as the remaining six bakers fought for a place in the quarter final.

(You can read my thoughts on the previous weeks: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5 and Week 6)

This week, the bakers faced a first on The Great British Bake Off: Vegan Week! Though the usual ingredients were scrapped, in place of coconut oil and Fava beans, Paul and Prue still expected perfection from the bakers.


The bakers

It was a difficult week this week, as the bakers had to ditch their usual ingredients and methods in favour of vegan ingredients and recipes. The pressure definitely showed in the tent this week but two bakers in particular proved Vegan Week was nothing to worry about. Kim-Joy lived up to her name and brought joy to the tent this week and Rahul, as usual, impressed Paul and Prue and failed to see his potential…again!

The challenges

Vegan Week kicked off with the Signature Challenge, in which the bakers were asked to make eight savoury tartlets.

The tartlets proved difficult without the usual dairy ingredients but some of the bakers still wowed, with Prosecco caramelised onions, hummus and the cutest mascarpone squirrel ever featuring in their bakes. Of course Paul “Handshake” Hollywood dished out another handshake, just to prove he’s down with veganism…or whatever.

Next came the Technical Challenge, which saw the bakers create a tropical fruit pavlova. The upgrade on the traditional dessert saw the bakers subbing eggs for fava beans and putting coconut pastry cream on top (which, I won’t lie, looked eerily similar to porridge). This challenge proved tough, due to the fragile nature of the pavlova and the bakers weren’t too sure what they were doing (which inspired Briony’s first tent sing-song, I Don’t Know What I’m Doing). Some bakers pulled off the pav, whilst others found themselves stuck in a dangerous position come the Signature.

The Showstopper Challenge saw the bakers make a vegan celebration cake and, let me tell you, this is where the tears come in (both from the bakers and me, into my Mr Kipling cake packet). The bakers didn’t compromise on delicious flavours and brilliant designs this challenge, with a foxy offering, a mocha inspired cake and a mocking ‘only fools eat horses’ cake. Of course, there were some difficulties. Getting the flavour in was one but, for two bakers, the real problem was getting their bakes to stay in place (nail biting scenes if ever I saw one).

The result

For the first time in the series, and possibly in Bake Off history, I predicted the results. Although it looked like Rahul might snatch back his Star Baker crown, only to say he probably didn’t deserve it straight after, Kim-Joy enjoyed her second week as Star Baker and (honestly) it was well deserved!

Ruby and Manon looked on thin ice, it was Jon who exited the tent this week. He’s been a brilliant baker, a poor chooser of shirts but he just couldn’t hack Vegan Week.

Honestly, I’m not really sure who my moneys on at the moment.

The final 5 bakers (how quick has it gone?!) face the Quarter Final, Danish Week!

That’s it from me, for now, but you can expect a BRAND NEW type of post from me on Sunday. As I’ll be three weeks in to my third year of uni, I thought I’d share with you this:

Yep. The dreaded ‘D’ word! In my first post, I’ll bring you up to speed with all things dissertation: what I’m planning, where I’m at and how I’m feeling.

Let me know your thoughts on last night’s episode?

Carrot cake squares

Hey guys! I’m a day late (considering I spent yesterday mainly in bed feeling sorry for myself- after cocktail making for my friend’s 21st and falling down some stairs, sober I’ll add!) but I hope how good this recipe is will make up for it.

It’s autumn now and, like it or not, the cold nights are drawing in. So my carrot cake squares are perfect for adding a little warmth.

Here’s how to make them:


For the cake:

3oz light brown sugar

1 large egg

75ml sunflower oil

3oz self raising flour

2tsp ground cinnamon

100g carrots, washed, peeled and coarsely grated

50g walnuts

50g sultanas

For the icing:

4oz cream cheese

4oz icing sugar

1tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 190 (170 fan) and line a tin with baking parchment

2. Whisk together the sugar, eggs and oil until thick

3. Fold in the flour, cinnamon, carrots, walnuts and sultanas. Then place in the lined tin.

4. Bake for 30-35 minutes and leave to cool.

5. Beat together the icing sugar, vanilla and cream cheese

6. Cut the cooled cake into squares, top with as much or as little of the icing as you wish, top with a walnut and enjoy.

That’s me for now but, as always, I’ll be posting my thoughts on the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off. So stay tuned!

The Great British Bake Off Week 6

The bakers could really filo the pressure this week, as the competition creeps closer and closer to the final, in a series that’s been handshakes aplenty, filled with glorious bakes and plenty of nail biting moments.

( You can read my thoughts on the previous weeks: The Great British Bake Off Week 1, The Great British Bake Off Week 2, The Great British Bake Off Week 3, The Great British Bake Off: Week 4 and The Great British Bake Off: Week Five)

This week, the bakers faced Pastry Week and Paul and Prue were on the hunt for the perfect puff and fantastic filo- which some of the bakers delivered.


The bakers

This week, I think the girls (and Rahul, as usual) stood out. I’m just annoyed that Rahul hasn’t accepted, six weeks in, that he’s actually a good baker- he needs more confidence (which reminds me of my old school reports). Briony proved she was one to watch and Ruby, minus the technical, produced her fair share of great bakes this time around (which puts me in a good position for the sweep!).

The challenges

Pastry Week began with the Signature Challenge, where the bakers were asked to make 6 samosas (three sweet and three savoury), plus a dipping sauce to accompany them.

There are a few triumphs (did I mean handshakes? Yes I did!) in the tent but a few soggy samosas spoil the bakers chances!

Next up came the Signature Challenge, where the bakers were asked to make six Puits D’Amour (nope, me neither) which are puff and choux pastries with jam and creme pat (which, to me, just sounds like the most extra breakfast pastry ever).

There were a few hiccups, with reading recipes and baking times, but some bakers managed to produce pastries the judges loved.

Finally came the Showstopper Challenge, where Paul and Prue asked the bakers to create a handshaped pie, perfect for a banquet.

This produced a variety of results including mythical creatures, actual creatures and playable croquet!

Of course many bakers struggled, either with baking time, flavours or avoiding the dreaded Soggy Bottom (whilst one baker struggled getting the parchment off, we’ve all been there!).

The result

When it came to the reveal this week, Briony was crowned Star Baker which- considering her great work so far- has been a long time coming!

The baker to leave the tent was Dan, which was a shock if you thought about his performance in previous weeks.

This week really proved that anyone could win, as I’m not really sure who to root for.

Having survived Pastry Week, the bakers will face an all new Vegan Week- how trendy?

That’s it from me, for now, but you can expect a recipe post (I’m going in the archives for this one as I haven’t baked this week, sorry!) on Sunday and I’ll be back on Wednesday for all this Bake Off.

Did you watch tonight’s episode? What did you think?