The Reading / Listening - Christmas Cake - Level 5

Christmas cake is a centuries-old festive tradition. The vast majority of people who enjoy this seasonal treat are unaware that there is a science behind slicing it. A professor of applied mathematics and geometry in the UK tested several hypotheses on the best way to cut a Christmas cake into slices. He focused on how to dissect the cake while leaving the insides as moist as possible. His solution was to cut the cake across the middle into two semicircles, then cut slices and push the remaining halves together. Perhaps he would admit that this isn't exactly rocket science.



Christmas cake is an English tradition that began as plum porridge. Nowadays, raisins, sultanas, orange rind and other dried fruit are used. The fruit is often soaked in brandy. It is common for the fruitcake base to be covered in a layer of marzipan, then for the top and sides to be coated in icing that can be over a centimetre thick. The top of the cake is usually decorated with Christmas symbols like fir trees or snowmen and women. Christmas cakes vary around the world. In Japan, they are simple sponge cakes with whipped cream and strawberries.

Try the same news story at these levels:

    Christmas Cake - Level 4 or  Christmas Cake - Level 6

Sources
  • https://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/maths-says-theres-a-right-and-wrong-way-to-cut-christmas-cake/
  • https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-9068307/Christmas-cake-cut-without-letting-dry-according-114-year-old-study.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_cake


Make sure you try all of the online activities for this reading and listening - There are dictations, multiple choice, drag and drop activities, crosswords, hangman, flash cards, matching activities and a whole lot more. Please enjoy :-)



Phrase Matching

Paragraph 1

  1. a centuries-old festive
  2. The vast majority
  3. here is a science
  4. applied mathematics and
  5. tested several
  6. leaving the insides as
  7. push the remaining halves
  8. this isn't exactly rocket
  1. moist as possible
  2. behind slicing it
  3. science
  4. hypotheses
  5. tradition
  6. together
  7. geometry
  8. of people

Paragraph 2

  1. Christmas cake is an English
  2. orange rind
  3. The fruit is often soaked
  4. covered in a
  5. The top of the cake is usually
  6. Christmas symbols like
  7. Christmas cakes vary
  8. sponge cakes with whipped
  1. fir trees
  2. layer of marzipan
  3. cream
  4. in brandy
  5. around the world
  6. tradition
  7. decorated
  8. and other dried fruit

Listening — Listen and fill in the gaps

Christmas cake is (1) ___________________ festive tradition. The vast majority of people who enjoy (2) ___________________ are unaware that there is a science behind slicing it. A professor of applied (3) ___________________ in the UK tested several hypotheses on the best way to cut a Christmas cake into slices. He focused on (4) ___________________ the cake while leaving the insides as moist as possible. His solution was to cut the cake across the middle (5) ___________________, then cut slices and push the remaining halves together. Perhaps he would admit that this isn't (6) ___________________.

Christmas cake is an English (7) ___________________ as plum porridge. Nowadays, raisins, sultanas, (8) ___________________ other dried fruit are used. The fruit is (9) ___________________ brandy. It is common for the fruitcake base to be covered in a layer of marzipan, then for the top and sides to (10) ___________________ icing that can be over a centimetre thick. The top of the cake is (11) ___________________ Christmas symbols like fir trees or snowmen and women. Christmas cakes (12) ___________________ world. In Japan, they are simple sponge cakes with whipped cream and strawberries.

Put a slash (/) where the spaces are

Christmascakeisacenturies-oldfestivetradition.Thevastmajorityo
fpeoplewhoenjoythisseasonaltreatareunawarethatthereisascienceb
ehindslicingit.AprofessorofappliedmathematicsandgeometryintheU
KtestedseveralhypothesesonthebestwaytocutaChristmascakeintosl
ices.Hefocusedonhowtodissectthecakewhileleavingtheinsidesasmoi
staspossible.Hissolutionwastocutthecakeacrossthemiddleintotwose
micircles,thencutslicesandpushtheremaininghalvestogether.Perha
pshewouldadmitthatthisisn'texactlyrocketscience.Christmascakeis
anEnglishtraditionthatbeganasplumporridge.Nowadays,raisins,sult
anas,orangerindandotherdriedfruitareused.Thefruitisoftensoakedin
brandy.Itiscommonforthefruitcakebasetobecoveredinalayerofmarz
ipan,thenforthetopandsidestobecoatedinicingthatcanbeoveracenti
metrethick.ThetopofthecakeisusuallydecoratedwithChristmassymb
olslikefirtreesorsnowmenandwomen.Christmascakesvaryaroundth
eworld.InJapan,theyaresimplespongecakeswithwhippedcreamands
trawberries.

Student survey

Write five GOOD questions about this topic in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper. When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

(Please look at page 12 of the PDF to see a photocopiable example of this activity.)

Discussion — Write your own questions

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

(a) ________________

(b) ________________

(c) ________________

(d) ________________

(e) ________________

(f) ________________

(g) ________________

(h) ________________

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

(i) ________________

(j) ________________

(k) ________________

(l) ________________

(m) ________________

(n) ________________

(o) ________________

(p) ________________





Free writing

Write about this topic for 10 minutes. Comment on your partner’s paper.

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Answers

(Please check your answers against the article above.

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