Baking is a science. There's plenty of room for experimentation and trial and error in cooking but you're much better off following a recipe as closely as possible when you're baking. Trust me - I learned that the hard way!
There are so many elements that can throw off a great recipe for baked treats. The size of your eggs, the texture of the sugar, improperly measured flour, the fat content of the milk that you use, the size of your cake pans, the temperature of your ingredients, the tools you use, the accuracy of your oven or even the freshness of your ingredients. Tweaking a recipe even a tiny bit can have exponentially adverse effects on the final product.
I get emails all the time from people who follow my recipes but end up with disappointing results. Let me just say - I am not a cake doctor and it's really hard to determine the exact cause of the baking problem based on the end result. I can run through my usual check list of common mistakes but finding the exact cause of a baking casualty is exceedingly difficult. Are your eggs and milk at room temperature? Did you use superfine sugar or raw sugar? Did you use parchment paper in the bottom of your cake pans?
To be honest, major cake catastrophes are easier to pin point than things like cakes that are too dense or too dry. I recommend that you follow one of my cake recipes if you're new to baking and you want to avoid major cake catastrophes. Follow my step by step instructions for the best chances of achieving perfect cake status.
Three Layer Yellow Cake
3 cups cake flour
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
8 large egg yolk plus 5 large egg whites
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Remove from pans and cool completely. Frost with whipped cream cheese frosting.
Baking is a science. Your best bet is to follow the directions. Save all of your artistic and creative ideas for the decorating. You can be as expressive as you like with the decorations. I chose to add a cream cheese whipped cream to my three layer yellow cake. It was the perfect compliment to this moist and delicious yellow cake.
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