More and more people are now asking me about the art of baking. There are lots of helpful tips and hints on various site on the internet, but bascially there are some rules that must be acknowledged.
Rule One: Remember the scales.
Some fo my friends admit to cake baking failures, but it transpires that they 'just chuck it in'. That must be the number one rule: measure out your ingredients. It's science, so to make the proportions correct is all important. All I say is 'well done' for having ever managed to achieve cake baking at all so far!
Rule Two: Oven Temperature
Turn the oven on 10-15mins before you put the cake in so it can get to the correct baking temperature. Often if a cake rises unevenly it can be due to uneven oven temperature or the oven was too hot. A dense, heavy cake can be the result of having the temperature too low.
Rule Three: Testing, testing...
I would recommend testing a recipe before you really need it. Even being an experienced baker, I can still get the timing of baking a cake wrong, my oven might need a slightly different cooking time from those in the instructions. Don't get caught out by having an under or over cooked cake on the day, by not having tried it out before. Test your cakes for doneness while they're still in the oven. Because of differences in individual oven controls, be sure to test your cake for doneness according to package or recipe directions. Cake is done when the sides shrink slightly away from the pan and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
That's enough to being going on with on the baking side. Hope those are helpful pointers.