The Great Geobake-off

Silurian Death Assemblage Cupcakes

Catherine KennyA guest post from geologist and geobaker extraordinaire, Catherine Kenny…

It occurred to me over breakfast one morning that Cheerios look a lot like crinoids. I have a piece of limestone from Dudley encrusted with broken crinoids, smashed brachiopods and the odd fragment of trilobite. I wondered about re-creating it, in chocolate.


Crinoids and cheerios. The resemblance is uncanny.

Crinoids and cheerios. The resemblance is uncanny.

I made some little cupcakes, and then decorated them in chocolate coated Cheerios, brachiopod pieces made of moulded chocolate and trilobites made by printing in fondant icing. The results are probably best described by the conversations I had with my colleagues when I took a box of the cakes in to work….





Colleague #1:
“Happy Birthday!!”
Me: “Thanks, its not really my birthday, I just made these cakes – would you like a Silurian death assemblage?”
Colleague #1: “What?”
Me: “A Silurian death assemblage – it’s a collection of fossils, washed together after death, its actually chocolate”
Colleague #1: “er, um, no……”


Colleague #2: “Happy Birthday!”
Me: “Thanks, its not actually my.. .erm, never mind, would you like a chocolate cake?”
Colleague #2: “Thanks! What the hell is that, are those Cheerios?”
Me: “Yes, it’s a Silurian death assemblage”
Colleague #2: “What?”
Me: “Never mind. Its chocolate?”
Colleague #2: “er, um, no……”




Victim #3:“Happy Birthday!”
Me: “Thanks, chocolate cake?”
Victim #3: “Thanks!…….Ew, its, its… it’s a bit gritty….christ, did you use real fossils to make these imprints? “
Me: “Ah, um, no, gosh, no, who’d do a thing like that…..”



Lessons learnt:
1. Smashed brachiopod pieces can be created using molten chocolate poured into petit fours moulds. Sort of. Pouring molten chocolate into cockle shells makes a Dreadful Mess.
2. Cheerios fossilise badly.
3. Fossil prints taste silty, even if you wash them. Honest, I washed them. A bit.
4. People won’t eat stuff associated with the word “death”.
5. However, children will still eat the lot, regardless, especially if you initially tell them they can’t have any because you are taking them to work…

Silurian death assemblage cupcakes.

Silurian death assemblage cupcakes.


100g (4oz) Butter
100g (4oz) caster sugar
2 eggs
75g (3 oz) self raising flour
25g (1 oz) cocoa powder
Topping: Cheerios , chocolate, “brachiopod pieces” , buttercream, fondant icing. Plastic, washable fossil.

Method: Cream together butter and sugar until very pale and fluffy, sieve flour and cocoa powder together , beat eggs and add one at a time to the butter/sugar, with a tablespoon of the flour mixture. Add rest of flour to butter/sugar/egg mixture, beat together until smooth. Spoon into paper cases and bake in preheated oven 180 degrees or Gas 4 for 20-25 minutes, or until well risen, lightly browned and firm. Test by posing thin skewer into cake, if it comes out clean, they are done.

When the cakes are cooled, you can make some buttercream by beating together 100g (4 oz) of butter, 225g (8oz) icing sugar 2 tsp milk and 50g (2 0z) melted chocolate, or you can cheat and buy a tub of Betty Crocker cake frosting. Spoon a dollop of buttercream on each cake and decorate with Cheerios covered in melted chocolate, chocolate “brachiopod pieces” and fossil imprints made with blob of fondant icing and a nice clean plastic fossil.

silurian cupcakes 2

Next time….Catherine attempts trilobite biscuits…

7 thoughts on “Silurian Death Assemblage Cupcakes

  1. Pingback: The Great Geobake-off | Geological Society of London blog

  2. Pingback: The Great Geobakeoff – the results! | Geological Society of London blog

  3. Pingback: The Great Schools Geobakeoff! | Geological Society of London blog

  4. If you lived in America, you could get chocolate flavor Cheerios and not have to dip them.

    Use a dot of frosting to stick the Cheerios together in stacks, or run chocolate down the middle of a stack, maybe?

    I don’t know. I’m not much of a baker, but I like fossils and chocolate and would have eaten them happily.

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