The 2016 Great Geobakeoff

logoIt’s hard to believe the Great Geobakeoff is already in its third magnificent year! It’s been twelve months since our twitter feed was last covered in cake, and we have missed you, geobakers. We hope you’ve been practising, because, once again in time for the Easter holidays, we’re excited to bring you….The Great Geobakeoff 2016!

This year, we’re particularly thrilled to introduce a new innovation to the geobakeoff….a judge! The fantastic Emily Garland, aka Maid of Gingerbread, is geared up to cast her eye over your creations.


c. Maid of Gingerbread

Based in East London, Emily is known for her gingerbread building expertise and original cake designs. Drawing on years of baking experience and a passion for woodwork and construction, she founded Maid of Gingerbread in 2010.

back to the future

c Maid of Gingerbread

She provides fun and unusual cakes, biscuits and gingerbread sculptures for events and weddings, all made to order, and is currently stocked in Fortnum & Mason – just opposite Geological Society HQ! She also runs gingerbread construction master-classes for individuals and hen parties.

emily cakes

c Maid of Gingerbread

…I also have it on good authority that Emily once made a cake and biscuit cross section of the geology at Walton-on-the-Naze, so she comes with full geobaking credentials.

Such is our excitement at having a real life proper judge on board, we’ve gone a bit crazy with the prize system this year. Therefore, a first for 2016, we present to you….


The Great Geo-Tour-de-Bakeoff!

We will of course be retaining our traditional points based award, (aka the Green Apron), but on top of that, with the help of Emily’s baking know-how, we’re introducing three more…

The awards:

White apronyoung bakerThe White Apron – awarded to the best young baker. (Up to 18 years old – there is no minimum, as evidenced by this image of one of last year’s entrants!)




Green apronThe Green Apron – awarded to the accumulator of the most points! Each of the challenges have an escalating number of points attached to them. Go for the big numbers, or accumulate challenges – the choice is yours!

spotty apron


King/Queen of the Mountains – awarded to the most accurate representation of geological features. Can be won by completing any of the challenges – though some may offer more opportunities for demonstrating your geological construction skills than others….


Yellow apronThe Yellow Apron – awarded to the best bake! Can be won for any of the ten challenges (though, let’s face it, it’s unlikely to be won by a 10 pointer…)

Along the way, there may also be individual ‘stage wins’ for each challenge, featuring some spot prizes. Basically, anything could happen.*

*The more avid Tour fans among you may have noticed we’ve omitted the Most Aggressive Baker award – alas, health and safety forbids.


prizesThe prizes

As ever, trophies of an as yet undetermined nature will be awarded to the winners, along with a goodie bag containing, among other things, our fabled and much loved rock hammer USB sticks.

We’re also extra excited that Emily has agreed to provide a trophy of the baked variety!

Send us your entries via twitter using #geobakeoff, or email them to You have until Sunday 8 May to complete your entries!



The challenges

USBLast year, the Society’s Year of Mud theme was a gift to geobaking. This years’ Year of Water….not so much. We’ve done our best, nonetheless. We’ve also incorporated some topical challenges, a few of the 100 Great Geosites, and, of course, a few that defy categorisation. We’re excited to see what you come up with!

10 bonus points, as ever, for a representation of our USB sticks complete with the #geobakeoff hashtag. Or why not design a logo of your choice?!

10 points: Marble cake

Eleanor 1

Marble wall of Ruskeala, Russia

Marble wall of Ruskeala, Russia

The traditional starter for ten. A variation on marble cake featured in the winning offerings from last year’s staff geobakeoff winner, Eleanor Lewis of our web team – see if you can do better!

The science bit: marble is metamorphosed limestone, which has been subjected to intense heat and pressure. This means it can emerge with all sorts of patterns – so marble cake entries are acceptable in all their many varieties!

20 points: Ripple marks

ripple marksAs close to a watery fossil cake as we could manage, a representation, in whatever your preferred medium, of ripple marks. Straight, sinuous or linguoid – the choice is yours!

30 points: Lagoonal cupcakes

lagoonalFor this salty challenge we are looking for an evaporate lagoon/lake, embodied in a lovely cupcake (cupcake does not have to be salty, unless like us you frequently muddle up salted and unsalted butter.)

Evaporite deposits are water-soluble minerals that crystallise by evaporation from an aqueous solution. They can form in both marine environments and terrestrial environments, in standing bodies of water such as lakes. Common evaporate minerals are halite (salt), anhydrite and gypsum.

So – you could make a traditional exotic lagoon cupcake. Or you can go for some of the crazy colours and patterns that can turn up in evaporating lakes and hydrothermal pools.

lagoonal cupcakes


40 points: Millook Haven

Millook havenA favourite from our 100 Great Geosites list, Millook Haven offers some excellent structural opportunities for the adventurous geobaker, and a good opportunity at the spotty apron award for best geological representation.

Millook Haven 460The cliffs at Millook Haven involve a spectacularly folded series of inter-bedded sandstones and shales originally deposited deeply under water. The characteristic chevron shape of the recumbent folds tend to form when strongly layered rocks – or possibly cake – are buckled.


50 points: The Martian

martianWith fond memories of 2014’s globe challenge, we’ve taken it one step further this year – Matt Damon on Mars!

Now, there’s no prize on offer for most accurate Matt Damon, so you’re probably best off focusing on the planet, but we would like to see a stranded Martian in there somewhere. Other than that, the details are up to you!

A stand out entry from 2014

A stand out entry from 2014

60 points: Philae (with or without associated comet)

Comet_67P_on_19_September_2014_NavCam_mosaicAnother favourite moment of recent years was plucky little Philae landing on the slightly less catchily named  comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. After the euphoria of Philae’s landing in November 2014, it was almost more exciting when the lander ‘woke up’ last summer to communicate with its spacecraft, Rosetta, before losing contact again.



In January, Philae’s controllers said it was unlikely we’d hear from the lander again. Farewell, Philae. We honour you (hopefully) in cake form.

70 points: Fingals Cave

1280px-Scotland-Staffa-Fingals-Cave-1900Another favourite of our 100 Great Geosites, and reminiscent of 2014’s fiendish Giant’s Causeway challenge, Fingal’s Cave has been the inspiration for some great works of art and music, and now of baking!

Staffa04Fingal’s Cave is a sea cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Like the Giant’s Causeway, its hexagonal basalt columns were formed by the cooling of a Palaeocene lava flow. The cave is filled by the sea – so there’s an opportunity for some watery baking here, too, should you choose to take it…


80: Iron Islands

iron islandsTo celebrate the arrival of Season 6 of Game of Thrones in a few week’s time, our 80 point challenge is the fiendish Iron Islands! Home to the Ironborn and the likes of the traumatised Theon GreyJoy*, this group of seven small rocky islands is located off the coast of the fiction Westeros in Ironman’s Bay. Your challenge is to bake this spindly outpost in any way you see fit!

*Flo wrote this bit I have absolutely no idea what an Ironborn or a GreyJoy is

90 points: Petrified Kit Harrington, AKA the Freestyle Pompeii round!

I think we can all agree that Kit Harrington and his girlfriend being instantly petrified by the fires of Pompeii whilst kissing was one of the standout movie scenes of 2014. Or indeed, any year. So dramatic. So not acted well. So geologically questionable. So perfect for the geobakeoff.

Pompeii-posterA cake based representation of this emotional and scientifically dubious scene would make us very happy. Involve the volcano, or zoom in on Kit and Emily in their full petrified glory. Either way, please skip to roughly 1:55 in that clip and laugh along with us.

For more on how much we loved Pompeii, my review can be found here.



100 points: The Jurassic World Mosasaur!

mososaurIt was only ever going to be this. The 100 point challenge is now firmly established as the Jurassic Park challenge. This year, we had new material to choose from in the form of Jurassic World, aka a film possibly even more badly acted than Pompeii.

Mounted skeleton of a plioplatecarpine (Plesioplatecarpus planifrons), Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center

Mounted skeleton of a plioplatecarpine (Plesioplatecarpus planifrons), Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center

Not actually dinosaurs, and not actually Jurassic, Mosasaurs are extinct marine reptiles around during the late Cretaceous. The largest may have reached up to 18 metres long, so this image isn’t totally off the wall. But what does scientific accuracy matter when compared to the awesome baking opportunities it provides? We cannot wait.

Good luck, geobakers!

geocakePhew, that may have been the longest geobakoff post ever. Keep us posted on your progress via the #geobakeoff hashtag, and remember to send us your images by 8 May to be in the running for our fabulous awards – not to mention the everlasting respect and admiration of the geobaking community. Good luck!


2 thoughts on “The 2016 Great Geobakeoff

  1. Shame it wasn’t more advertised by the regional groups or in the monthly newsletter… just noticed this today, better start thinking of great baking ideas and get ready to bake this weekend!

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