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Expert Q&A

How not to overcook your Christmas cake

Question
It's that time of year and I'm busy in the kitchen preparing Christmas treats galore, however, I'm having trouble achieving the perfect Christmas fruit cake. After it's cooked, I find that the bottom of the cake is burnt and the top of the cake has large cracks in it. Can you tell me what I'm doing so wrong?!
Answer
It sounds like all of your problems have been caused by a very hot oven. Fruit cakes will burn on the bottom or crack on top if they're baked at too high a temperature. Make sure you set your oven to the exact temperature given in the recipe. The burnt bottom can also occur if the cake is wrongly positioned in the oven. Or if the pans are lined incorrectly. Fruit cakes require protection during long, slow baking times. Cakes that are 22cm or smaller require three thicknesses of baking-paper lining. Larger cakes need one or two sheets of brown paper and three sheets of baking paper.
Pics: Rob Shaw/ bauersyndication.com.au

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