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How to Line a Cake Tin

I like to share tips and tricks I've picked up in the kitchen over the years.

Parchment-lined cake tin

Parchment-lined cake tin

Easy Guide to Lining a Cake Tin

If you are baking some kinds of cake, for example, fruit cakes, Christmas cakes and other large or celebratory cakes, you will have to line the cake tin. This is easy to do once you know how, but if you don't have anyone around to point you in the right direction, here are some helpful hints. Lining a cake tin really isn't very difficult.

Now, it may be if you buy non-stick cake tins you won't need to line them. I'm a traditionalist and still cook with the tins my mother gave me, but even my modern springform tin needs to be lined.

Please note: Having read Nigel Slater's book Toast (see below), I thought I'd better add this note—line the cake tin before you start to make the cake!

Cake tin, butter and parchment

Cake tin, butter and parchment

Equipment for Lining Cake Tins

  • A cake tin
  • Baking paper (also known as greaseproof paper or parchment paper)
  • Butter, oil or margarine
  • A pair of scissors

Baking Paper to Line the Tin

You'll need greaseproof paper—also called baking paper or baking parchment—what you call it depends on where you come from, but it's all the same!

You'll also need a pair of scissors, some butter or oil, and a cake tin. I've chosen to show you a traditional round one like mine that you can get from Amazon, but you can also find heart-shaped ones, square ones, and number versions.

Marking the base of the cake tin with scissors

Marking the base of the cake tin with scissors

Mark the Base With Scissors

Don't cut along this line.

The first thing to do is to grease the tin with butter, oil, or margarine. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Place the tin on the greaseproof paper, allowing a margin of 2 to 3 centimetres all around.
  2. With the scissors, score around the edge of the tin as shown in the photo.
  3. Take away the tin and then cut about 2 to 3 centimetres outside.
  4. You should now have a circle of paper 4 to 6 centimetres wider than the tin.
Snip the edges of the baking paper.

Snip the edges of the baking paper.

Snip the Edges of the Baking Paper

This is so that you get a snug fit. Snip the edges all around just inside the score line that you made around the base of the tin. I have tried to be neater than my usual self for the photo. It doesn't need to be too precise, but it will allow you to place the base into the tin and turn up the edge neatly.

Greaseproof paper placed in the bake tin with the edges up

Greaseproof paper placed in the bake tin with the edges up

Your Paper Should Look Like This

The butter will help it to stick to the sides. Press the paper into the base and smooth up the edges, sticking them to the greasy sides of the tin. Put another layer of butter or oil over the paper.

Now you're ready to tackle the sides.

Don't be put off by all these instructions. It is like writing down exactly how to open a matchbox. Much more complicated to describe than to do!

Measuring the paper for the sides of the cake tin

Measuring the paper for the sides of the cake tin

Make the Sides of the Lining

You'll need two rectangles of baking paper.

First, measure the length of paper that you'll need—the circumference of the tin. You can see in the photo that I have a seam in mine, so I place this seam at one end of the paper and I roll it along until the seam has gone full circle and I allow a bit more—say 5 centimetres. I make a snip at that point.

Then measure the sides by marking the back of the tin. Roll your tin back marking every now and then. When you cut the paper, allow at least 3 centimetres as you will be snipping the edges again. I allow more and leave it sticking up out of the tin, see below. I'm a born pessimist and think 'better safe than sorry'.

Lower edges of the paper strip snipped

Lower edges of the paper strip snipped

Snip the Lower Edges of the Sides

Snip the edges as you did for the base. Place the snipped edge into the tin and ease it down until the snipped edge is folded under and the paper is stuck to the sides of the tin. You will have to grease the overlap to stick it down. Now it is a good deal fiddlier fitting the sides than fitting the base, but I managed to get there in the end. Grease again and smooth down all the snips.

Cake tin lined with greaseproof paper

Cake tin lined with greaseproof paper

All Done!

I lined this tin for a Christmas cake so there are several layers of paper. The extra paper at the top does no harm, and if the cake rises above the tin, the paper will support it.

Good luck and good cooking!

Celebrity Chef Nigel Slater on Lining a Cake Tin for Christmas

In his autobiography, Toast, Nigel Slater writes lyrically about his memories of childhood food. I found a wonderful description of his not-such-a-good-cook mother preparing the Christmas cake. I'd have loved to quote you a passage where he describes, more lyrically than myself, how to line the cake tin, and about his poor mother's failings to get it properly organized! You'll just have to take my word for it and buy the book.

© 2010 Barbara Walton