Make a stratigraphy cake
Are you looking for an unusual way to investigate archaeology?
Try making our incredible stratigraphy cake to discover more about how layers build up and what an archaeological section might look like – it tastes pretty great too!!
Adult supervision is required.
Ages : Suitable for all ages.
Make at least three layers of cake. These need to all be the same size. Each cake needs to be a different colour.
For our stratigraphy cake, we made three rectangular cakes: a vanilla sponge (pale yellow), a chocolate sponge (dark brown), and a coffee sponge (mid brown). Alternatively, you could use food colourings to make different coloured cakes, or make different types of cakes, such as fruit cake or chocolate chip songe cake.
We also made an extra round cake which we dyed using yellow food colouring – this will be used later to make a ‘pit’!
It’s now time to start building up your archaeological trench!
Choose which layer is going to be the bottom, and put this on your cake board. Add a layer of something sticky – jam, cream, butter icing or peanut butter all work well! We included some dried fruit in our ‘sticky’ layer.
Keep going adding a layer of cake and then a layer of something sticky until you have used all three layers of cake.
Now you need to add some features.
We cut two ‘pits’ into our cake. To do this, use a cookie cutter or sharp knife to cut down through the top two cake layers of your cake. You might need an adult to help!
Remove the circle of cake leaving a hole.
Fill your pits in using your extra coloured cake. Use the same cookie cutter to cut out circles of cake from your coloured extra cake – this will ensure that they will fit the pits!
You will probably need several layers of the extra cake to completely fill the pits – use some jam or buttercream icing to make sure that the layers that fill the pits stick together.
Cover the top of your pits with a small slice of the top cake layer that you removed in order to make your pits – this will mean that it is not obvious where the pits are until you cut the cake.
If you want to, you can ice the top of your completed cake. We used icing sugar to make it look like a snow-covered trench. Green icing – for grass – also works well!
You might also want to ice the sides of the cake too, so that you cannot see the layers.
Now for the tasty bit! Cutting and eating your cake!!
Hints, tips and extra ideas
You don’t have to make your own cakes. You could buy different flavoured sponge cakes and simply build your stratigraphy cake at home. You could use biscuits to add a different textured layer too.
Why not add some ‘finds’ to your cake! You could experiment with including small sweets or dried fruit in the cake mixtures. You could even add chocolate coins to make a hoard!
As well as pits, you could also include ditches or small postholes as features in your trench. Again use different coloured cake to fill in your features
Why not draw a scale section drawing of the layers and features in your stratigraphy cake?!
Have fun with your stratigraphy cakes... why not email us a picture?!
- Three ‘layers’ of cake
- Extra coloured cake for pits or other features
- Butter icing
- Peanut butter
- Icing sugar or coloured icing
- Circular cookie cutter or sharp knife
- Cake board
- Dried fruit
- Chocolate coins