Thursday, 26 July 2007

Indo-European language family tree

Fruit cake, lawn of green dessicated coconut, tree of gingerbread, covered in leaves of rice-paper painted with green food colouring and stuck on with icing. Totally edible, apart from the labels hung on each branch.

This was the cake that really began my Oxford academic baking career, back in the autumn of 2006. It was my friend Matt's turn to take a cake to the Philologists' lunch, and he pleaded for help - I responded that I would only bake for him if it was a challenge. It was. The moment we moved from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional concept was significant, and caused us rather a lot of pain and many many hours of work. More pain ensued the following morning when I discovered that the tree had collapsed and had to be re-baked! But it was worth it.

Further significance can be read from the length and height of each of the branches, reflecting Matt's particular language preferences, and as an attempt to undermine all those Classicists...

Sacred Syllable

Another joint project with Matt, for Mike's birthday, March 2007. The carving of cake has become one of my most treasured skills. And I've never baked a cake that embodied the cosmos before.

Devanagari gingerbread

I first made Devanagari Gingerbread in the autumn of 2004 in Cardiff, though this batch was for the last Sanskrit class of the 2005/6 academic year in Oxford. It meant I didn't have time to prepare any of the text, though nobody seemed to mind much. I am particularly proud of the 'ksh'.

Tocharian Caravan Permit

For the Philologists' lunch, Hilary term (spring term to you and me) 2007. A very straightforward chocolate cake, lovingly painted in Brahmi script by Matt. Due to an unfortunate mix-up this cake led to us running through the streets of Oxford five minutes after the lunch had begun, shouting "Aaaaaagh! There's a cake locked in the Boden Professor's office!!"