1. First things first: Invest in an oven thermometer.
2. Sift your dry ingredients together instead of just mixing them, to avoid lumps.
When Elizabeth Falkner makes biscuits, she likes to sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Doing so gets out any lumps that may have formed in your dry goods.
3. If you have guests over and you're feeling ~fancy~ you can make a quenelle out of whipped cream.
Here's exactly how you make a quenelle:
1. Run a spoon under hot water so that the spoon is warm, then dry it thoroughly.
2. Tilt a bowl of very whipped cream away from you, and place your spoon on the bottom side of the bowl, pointing towards you.
3. Drag the spoon up through the cream, towards yourself. The cream will roll over the surface of your spoon, creating a smooth, football shaped spoonful of cream.
4. Pick the spoon up out of the cream, and gently spoon the quenelle onto a dessert of your choice!
You can also make a quenelle out of ice cream by letting the ice cream sit at room temperature JUST until it's soft enough to shape.
4. Frost your cakes with a "crumb coat" (AKA base layer of frosting), then chill it, then frost it again to make it pretty.
First of all, only frost cakes after they've cooled completely. Once they're cool, spread a thin layer of frosting between layers and all over the cake, not worrying too much about what it looks like. This layer is just the "crumb coat", and it's what will make your frosting look pretty instead of looking studded with runaway crumbs. Chill the crumb-coated cake for at least an hour, then take it out and frost it again, this time making it pretty. Learn more here.
5. For a really next-level pie, make a "braided lattice" to go on top.
6. Or, if the thought of braiding pieces of dough gives you anxiety, just crimp the edges.
Instead of crimping with a plain old fork, use the top of an antique key. It'll make a cool pattern, and literally anyone can do it. The bakers at Four and Twenty Blackbirds showed us how to use other household objects, like spoons and tongs, to crimp.
7. BUY A KITCHEN SCALE, for goodness' sake.
When Chef Jacques Torres came to BuzzFeed to make this insane hot chocolate, he measured literally EVERYTHING with a kitchen scale. It's much more accurate to measure dry goods like flour and sugar by weight than it is by volume. Having a scale makes all the difference in ensuring that your desserts come out perfectly every time. Get one here for $9.99.
8. If you're baking with booze, choose an alcohol that compliments the flavor profile of your dessert.
DC-based baker Faith Alice Sleeper adds all kinds of booze to her cupcakes (aka Crunkcakes). In order to really amp up the flavor, she makes sure to choose an alcohol that works with the flavors of the dessert, like adding Kahlua to brownies or bourbon to pecan pie.
9. The secret to getting perfectly shaped cookies every time? A cookie scoop.
10. When you're making pie dough, start with cubes of very cold butter and mix QUICKLY with your hands.
You want to mix the butter and the flour together, but you still want the butter to be relatively solid. That's what makes for a flaky, not-too-tough pie crust. Here's exactly how to make perfect pie dough.