A couple of weeks ago, we hosted our annual PGR & Postdoc Bake-Off, and what a turnout! It was standing room only for our bakers to talk about their work and hear the judges’ feedback, and then the audience descended on the bakes to make their own decision. There were a variety of bakes, from cakes to bagels, and everyone had their favourite. Regardless of the winners, the very small amount of cake left at the end suggests that every bake was a delicious success!
It was some tough competition, but the judges and audience did manage to choose their favourite. If you want to find out who those were, head to the bottom of the post.
You’ll find pictures and the baker’s descriptions of their bakes below, so if you weren’t able to make it, you’ll be able to see what your fellow PGRs and Postdocs produced (maybe for inspiration for next year…?) and how it relates to the exciting research they’re doing.
Madeleine Strobel, CoSS, Language Education – Layered Pancake Cake
My ethnographic case study investigates a teaching method called reading circles with 15-year-old learners of English as a Second Language at a Swedish secondary school. Reading circles are small-group book talks. Learners read novels over the course of five weeks and meet weekly to present reading tasks and discuss their reflections. The teacher listens to assess student performance and provide feedback.
My pancake cake is decorated with whipped cream and chocolate figures, and has layers of banana, Nutella, and whipped cream mixed with blueberry and raspberry jam. The chocolate figures depict learners and their teacher participating in a reading circle meeting. The learners are placed in a circle with a book at the centre, and the teacher is placed outside the circle, but close enough to listen to the discussion. The different layers represent the learners’ discussion, illustrating how the learners’ diverse experiences create a wide variety of text responses.
Kathleen Reddy, Arts, Celtic and Gaelic - Strùthan Mhìcheil
My PhD research concerns local religious practices in Gaelic-speaking Catholic communities in the Southern Western Isles of Scotland from the late nineteenth century until the present day. One practice which has been maintained in these communities throughout this period is the baking of the "Strùthan Mhìcheil," a kind of bonnach or cake, for St. Michael's Day, September 29. I made a modern Strùthan Mhìcheil recipe from the Isle of South Uist.
Maria Fernanda Gabler, MVLS, Sports Science – Strength Exercise Cake
My cake is decorated in relation to my area of research which is strength exercise training. I have decorated the top of the cake with a gym setting. This includes implements for strength training, such as free weights, dumbbells, resistance bands, floor mats and weights.
Erika Anderson, CoSS, Economic and Social History – 3TG Cupcakes
My study is on corporate social responsibility in the technology industry. A major aspect of that is the matter of conflict minerals, 3TG (tin, tantalum, tungsten, & gold). These three layers represent mining, the conflict minerals, and the final products of those labours.
Jordanna Conn, Arts, Text & Image Studies - Bagels
Bagels relate to one half of my research which is looking at medieval Jewish illuminated manuscripts, specifically the Passover text called the Haggadah. My research looks at how the story can be read through the images in a way that resembles a comic, or what is referred to as a 'proto-comic' and the artistic and literary representations and traditions that may have passed down over the centuries and influenced the Jewish-American artists of the early comic book industry. Although during Passover you can't eat leavened bread, I am going to make bagels with ingredients that occur on seder plates, and then arrange it on a plate. This relates only to the Jewish traditional aspect of my research, but there will be little drawings that accompany them.
People’s Choice: Marta Argemí Alejandra Vovides, CoSE, Nature-based coastal protection and coastal ecosystems – One Day at Fieldwork
We paired up with an interdisciplinary cake. We both work with coastal ecosystems and the role they play for coastal protection. Saltmarshes and mangroves are both estuarine environments and provide very similar ecosystems services, just the first one thrives in temperate regions while the second one is fonder of hot tropical weather. Still both saltmarshes and mangroves can be found together in subtropical regions, so we are now playing with the idea of how our life would be if there would ever be mangroves in Scotland.
Runner-Up: Rachel Chin, Arts, History – Entremet (layered mousse cake)
My research, based on the AHRC project The Weight of the Past, focuses on 19th and 20th century Franco-British relations. Both France and Britain have a long culinary history, which embraces sweet treats and decadent desserts. My bake draws inspiration from the baking traditions of both nations, to combine French and British techniques and flavours. It takes the form of a French entremet, or layered mousse cake. In flavour, it represents an apple crumble with custard, with layers that unite classic British and French ingredients. Its layers include a crumble base, dorset apple cake, calvados jelly and vanilla custard mousse.
Winner: Merel Vergaaij, CoSE, Space Missions – Asteroid and Spacecraft Tart
My work is on the combined trajectory optimization and economic modelling of near-Earth asteroid mining missions. Asteroid mining is the exploitation of raw materials of these asteroids and has the potential togreatly reduce the cost of in-space manufacturing, production of propellant for space transportation and consumables for crewed spacecraft, compared to launching the required resources from the Earth. My bake comprises a caramelly nut tart in the shape of an asteroid, with the nuts representing the rough asteroid surface. A fondant mining spacecraft is mining and processing these nuts, which will later be transported back to Earth orbit using the tin-foil/brownie solar sail, which is a novel propulsion method I have investigated for these missions in a recent paper.
A big thank you to all of our wonderful bakers and to everybody who came to attend the event!
We hope to see you next year, either showing off a masterpiece or supporting your fellow researchers.