There's no special magic needed for successful home baking. You can make great cakes and cookies from your home kitchen simply by following a few basic and simple rules.
First and foremost, you need to read through the entire recipe before making your very first move. Some people make the mistake of executing each step; only to find out they are missing a certain ingredient after they have sifted the flour and sugar together. Begin by assembling all the required ingredients together for more efficient baking. Items such as eggs and butter for example, need to be at room temperature when baking.
When the recipe requires you to pre-heat the oven for a few minutes prior to putting in your baking pan, follow that to the letter. A lot of baking disasters happen when this very important step is ignored. Oven temperature is very crucial to the success of your end product, and skipping this step holds the death sentence to a supposedly great dessert.
When baking breads, allow the dough to sit and rise for the prescribed amount of time. Don't dare to make shortcuts as the yeast in bread recipes need to rise to create fluffy breads. Then pre-heat your oven as instructed in the bread recipe.
Measurements are also crucial to successful baking, so be sure you have the necessary measuring cups and spoons and a kitchen scale to carry out accurate measurement of your ingredients. Get those that come in both metric and imperial measures, so you don't need to compute for conversions. Baking is really more of a science than an art, so steering away from prescribed measurements will lead to disaster rather than amazing discoveries. Although a lot of new creations have resulted from tweaking with the recipes, that would be best left to the future after you have mastered the basics.
Use the exact tin pan size recommended in cake recipes whenever possible. Using bigger sized pans will result to thinner cakes that will take less time to cook, so there is the danger of over-baking. But if you don't have the exact pan size, choose one that comes closest to that mentioned in the recipe. For example, if the recipe requires you to use a 9 x 9 square tin pan, your next best option would be a 10-inch round pan.
Following these basic baking rules can turn baking into a wonderful and rewarding experience. Care, practice and patience are essential, and very soon you will be equipped enough to experiment on you recipes to make deliciously novel baking creations.