I need my cakes to bake flat. I have been told to cover the cake tin with newspaper secured with sellotape, but wouldn't this catch on fire in the oven?
Cakes are not normally baked a temperature high enough to ignite paper, although the newspaper will probably singe and brown, and possibly produce an unpleasant odor--some of which may be transferred to the cake. If you are going to go this route, I would recommend using baking parchment, which is intended for the heat of the oven, not newspaper.
There are several more common methods for ensuring even cake layers:
- Simply cut off any doming with a knife
- Use an inverted flower nail at the center of the pan to better conduct the heat of the oven to the center of the cake
- Use cake strips to cool the edge of the pan, again evening out the cooking
In truth, unless you have a very special application, cutting off any doming is often the simplest, most straight-forward solution.
No the paper will not catch fire (Remember Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451? You aren't cooking your cake that hot). But it's still a strange, unhygienic idea. Between ink, germs, and paper fibers... it doesn't seem like a way to make good eats.
In addition to the great suggestions by SAJ, you may be able to flip it upside down once it's out of the oven to "flatten out" the dome. This especially common in layer cakes where you flip the top layer upsides down to provide a flat surface.