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I have a Christmas Cake recipe which instructs me to "wrap the outside of the [cake] tin with a few sheets of newspaper, securing with staples or string". What is the reason for doing this, and is it really necessary?

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my recipe calls for cardboard ... i guess the same thing as you ... as long as you use plenty of newspaper –  Tea Drinker Nov 2 '10 at 9:26
    
As @Joe suggested below, turn the heat down a little and let it bake longer. –  BaffledCook Nov 19 '10 at 18:10

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

A Christmas cake is a large cake and you're cooking it for a long time. Insulating and padding the tin helps prevent the outside of the cake from scorching before the inside is properly cooked.

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Would it be the same if you used a silicon pad? –  dassouki Nov 2 '10 at 11:13
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@dassouki : probably not, as the pad would just insulate the bottom, not the sides; if the sides bake too quickly, you'll get a domed top as the center continues to rise while the sides have already firmed up. –  Joe Nov 2 '10 at 20:58
    
@joe : I agree, I guess I meant including a bottom and a side one as well, in essence it'll be a silicon "pan" inserted in a classic one –  dassouki Nov 3 '10 at 13:19
    
@dassouki it's not something i've tried –  Tea Drinker Nov 3 '10 at 13:41
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@dassouki : you could probably just use the silicon pan, no other pan needed. (unless it's a light colored, shiny pan, in which case it'd help to reflect radiant heat), or just turn the temp down about 25F / 15C and cook for a longer time. –  Joe Nov 3 '10 at 15:16

As an alternate, depending on your recipe, is to use an angel food cake tin; i.e. one with a central hole.

It allows for heat to better hit the batter as the cake is not so thick at any one place.

My recipe, from my grandmother, from an old Toronto newspaper "The Telegraph", actually calls for such a pan.

No padding required, just foil over the top to stop it from browning too quickly. But remember to poke a hole in the foil to match the hole in the pan, or you will defeat the natural convection created through such a pan.

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Bluebelle When I was a child my mother made a Xmas cake. This was a recipe unknown to her at the time. The inside of the tin was lined with the accepted brown paper stuck to the tin with fat. The outside of the tin was covered with 4 layers of newspaper and the cooking time was over an hour longer (about four and a half hours). I also remember her saying that the oven temperature would not be cool enough and doing both linings would allow a longer time in the oven at the higher temperature. The outside paper acted in the same way that we now use aluminium foil while cooking in the microwave. It was also known the brown paper was least 3 time the cost of a newspaper in the early 1960s.

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You can also just use brown paper and string if newspaper appears to be 'dirty'. My mother would always wrap the tin with brown paper to twice the height of the tin (partly because that was her mother did).

Worked too - never burned or too crispy on the top. She'd do the same with certain other fruitcake recipes as well.

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