Read the recipe carefully before you begin so that there are no surprises. Set out all the ingredients you need.
Always, always preheat the oven.
Have all your baking ingredients (such as eggs, butter, flour etc.) at room temperature before mixing. Soft butter is much easier to combine.
When you are baking, measuring the ingredients is very important. The best way to measure is by weight (a set of digital scales is invaluable), however cup measurements, carefully done, are also fine. The ingredients should be lightly packed into the cup, and the top smoothed flat with the back of a knife. It is useful to have two sets of measuring cups at hand.
Make sure you always have baking paper for lining your trays and tins. Using cooking oil spray lightly sprayed on the tin helps the baking paper stick and ensures no drama when turning out the cake or slice.
When baking a cake, position it in the centre of the oven for even cooking. If you are using 2 tins or trays, swap then over halfway through cooking for even baking.
Have a set of at least 3 mixing bowls; large, medium and small.
When you beat egg whites, make sure the bowl is completely clean with no speck of oil or grease. Older egg whites are best for whisking as they incorporate more air than very fresh ones. You can freeze egg whites.
As soon as you have made your cake mixture, get it into the tin and into the oven. If you don't, you won't get the best results.
It is usually best to cook cakes, muffins or slices without fan-force on in the oven. If you do use fan-force the rule of thumb is for the temperature to be reduced by 20°C.
Always check your cake or muffins are cooked before taking out of the oven, even if you have completely followed the recipe. Most ovens vary in temperature so it is important to test your cakes, muffins or slices by inserting a wooden or metal skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean then the cakes etc are done. If the mixture is still sticky it needs more time.
It is nearly always best to leave your cakes to stand in the tin for about 5 minutes before turning out. If you turn them out too quickly they may be too fragile.