The Botany Bake Off (2017 edition)

Cakes and baking have always been running themes in the Botany Department here at TCD. This year, members of the Department have turned things up a notch for the second ever Botany Bake off! The rules were simple; bake something that represents your research or work in the department. The stakes don’t get higher than this…

This cake represents the research of Prof. Jennifer McElwain using fossil leaves to reconstruct the evolution of the earth’s atmospheric composition and climate over millions of years. The leaves around the edge are of the Ginkgo tree. The pattern on the cake top shows what these leaves look like under a microscope. The ‘molecules’ on top of the cake represent the CO2 and H2O in the atmosphere around the plant leaves.


This cake was presented by Dr. Laura Russo to represent her research in the food webs of pollinators. The apple pastry roses represent different plant species, depended upon by various fondant pollinator species!

Dr. Alwynne McGeever presented this cake to explain the use of trees and bioenergy crops to extract carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil or in geological formations under the ocean, in an effort to mitigate climate change.


Dr. Jane Stout presented this masterpiece showing the connection between our ecosystems and ecology. These two cakes show how our natural resources support our economy, and how our economy impacts nature.

This delicious vanilla cake was made by PhD student Sarah Gabel. Her work focuses on the impact of pesticides on hoverflies. The tasty green icing borders represent hedgerows, the crumble oat topping represents her work surveying hoverfly activity in Oat croplands in Ireland and the cookies on top give examples of all the different types of insects she encounters during her fieldwork.

These impressive pear and apple cakes, covered in delicious Carmel sauce, were presented by PhD student Anne Dubéarnès to explain her research using morphology and genetics to ascertain the taxonomy of Embelia.

These cakes from PhD student Cian White shows the different scale of options for Nature based Actions and Nature based Solutions.

Hannah Hamilton’s cake showing the potential for companies in Ireland to help enhance Irish biodiversity and protect pollinators.

This impressive cake from Dr. Aoife Delaney shows her research in Burkina Faso studying the pollination services in Shea.

Our Herbarium assistant Marcella presented this amazing chocolate and coffee cake in the style of a herbarium parcel, labelled to send plant specimens from our herbarium to Kew gardens in London.

Our Executive Officer, Aisling, made this delicious collection of colourful cupcakes packed full of a variety of berries to represent the diverse range of tasks she does in the department.

Finally, this impressive assortment of treats was presented by Dr. Mike Williams to demonstrate the use of legume ingredients instead of cereals for an equally tasty but much more environmentally sustainable product. Included are kidney bean chocolate cake, peanut cookies and beer made from faba beans!

For more info on the cakes and bakers, check out the TCD Botany Facebook page!

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