1. Avoid Using Cold Eggs: Sure, you know to bring the butter to room temperature but it’s just as important for eggs—otherwise the mixture won’t emulsify properly. If you’re short on time, microwave cut-up butter on low in 5-second intervals, checking in between and place eggs in a bowl of warm water for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Measure the Flour Properly: Spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, then sweep off the excess with a knife. Don’t scoop it directly from the bag with a measuring cup. The flour will become crushed and you’ll get more than you need for the recipe.
3. Use a Pastry Brush to Butter the Pans: You’ll get better coverage than with a piece of butter in paper—plus, it makes buttering parchment a breeze. Simply swipe the brush over a tablespoon of very soft butter, then onto the pan or paper.
4. Position the Pans as Close to the Center of the Oven as Possible: They shouldn’t touch each other or the oven walls. If your oven isn’t wide enough to put pans side by side, place them on different racks and slightly offset, to allow for air circulation.
5. Rotate the Pans During Baking: This will ensure even baking. But wait until the cake is set—about two-thirds of the way through the baking time—to prevent collapse. If you’re using more than one rack, this is also the time to swap the pans.
6. Cool Cakes Upside Down: This will flatten out the tops, creating easy-to-stack disks for layer cakes. If the top of a cake is still too rounded, slice it off with a serrated knife.