All the things standing between you and the best cake of your life.
Baking is basically science — so the temperature of your ingredients is actually important. If you forgot to take the butter out of the fridge an hour in advance, just warm a glass bowl in the microwave and cover your butter with it for a few minutes. This will soften it and speed up the process.
Look, we've all been there. We read the line about preparing our pan in the recipe, but we'd rather get straight into the thick of things, so we skip this step and prep our pan last-minute, when the batter is ready. That's no good.
Once your cake batter is ready, you need to pop it in the oven ASAP to ensure the leavening agents can do their work (especially if you're using baking soda). Which is why you should actually prep your tin before you start anything else.
First, when you're creaming sugar and butter together, make sure your butter is at room temperature. Second, don't stop beating once the butter and sugar have just come together homogeneously. You should keep beating at medium speed (3–4 on a stand mixer) until the mixture is lighter in color and fluffy. To see if it's ready, roll a bit of mixture between your fingers. If there's barely any sugar granules left in there, you're good to go.
Make sure you don't leave half of your ingredients on the side of the bowl — scrape it regularly with a silicon spatula.
You may think salt is not necessary in desserts, but it really is. Salt helps enhance the flavor and sharpen the sweetness of your cakes, so always make sure to add a bit to the mix.
For some cakes, sifting can be an unnecessary extra step, but if your recipe asks you to do it, make sure you do. It'll help evenly incorporate your dry ingredients into the rest of the mixture and avoid any large clumps.
Baking your cake/cookies/pie at the right temperature is *crucial*. If the oven is too cold when you start the cooking, it could prevent your cake from rising or browning properly. So 👏 preheat 👏 your 👏 oven 👏 before you start anything else.
Each time you open the oven door, the temperature of the oven goes down. This will prevent your cake from rising as well as it could and slow down the baking process. So, be patient — and look through the door, if needed — but keep the door closed until that timer goes off.
Patience is key here as well. If you put buttercream on a warm cake, it will melt the frosting. So cool your cake completely before you start decorating it.