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Everyone loves a homemade dessert fresh out of the oven and you can make the best ones at the PTA bake sale or for the next family reunion when you use a few baking tips to get the most delicious results. Baking is an art, but there is also a science to getting good results, besides adding the extra touch of love. One tip, no matter whether you bake cookies, cakes or other sweet confection, is to have all your ingredients premeasured and ready to go-a little as Martha does on her show. Of course, measuring them and preheating the oven according to the recipe is also necessary.

If you're baking a cake, you may experience several pitfalls. If the cake is too high in the middle and you measured to perfection, plus preheated the oven appropriately, something's wrong and it may be the accuracy of your oven temperature. If your cake peaks in the center usually, it means too hot of an oven or not enough liquid and too much flour. If you know you measured and preheated correctly, then the oven temperature is inaccurate. One last word of advice on the temperature of the oven, every time you peak to see how your cake is coming, you affect the oven temperature. It can be one reason your cake falls in the center. So if you peaked multiple times to see how your cake was doing, don't call the stove repairman right away, try not peaking first.

Not mixing the cake accurately can also affect the quality of the final product. Under mixing may cause the cake to drop in the center or leave it course. Of course, you can over mix some of the ingredients too. If you overbeat the egg whites, that leaves you with a dry cake. Over mixing the batter is especially bad on sheet cakes. Mix it just enough to blend the eggs.

There are a few tips to help your cookies come out just the way you want them. If you love them chewy, melt the butter before adding it to the mix. Adding extra sugar to your cookie mix will make them thinner and more like a candy, but adding more eggs will give them a cake-like texture. Baking soda gives cookies a course top but baking powder makes the top smooth tighter crumb top. Reducing the amount of flour you use, by as much as ¼ cup for a larger recipe, makes scrumptious cookies that are moist for several days. If it's hard to work with the stickier dough, refrigerate it for a while, and then try.