I can bake a cheesecake or sweet potato pie to die for ( friends and family's words not mine) but can't bake a simple layer cake for anything!! Can't figure out why. I am trying to make them from scratch. They are usually dry and dense or one or the other. To be totally honest the box mixes don't come out great either. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
We serve cake at our restaurant (among other items) for dessert. I took over baking the cakes when we had one particular cook who couldn't bake a cake if her life depended on it. A simple box cake would end up in a pile of crumbs at the first touch of a knife. I made suggestions and even watched her make them. To this day I don't know what she did, but it was always a disaster. Of course, she was "the best cook we ever had" and didn't need any instruction from me!
The best thing you can do is follow the recipe exactly, make sure your oven temp is dead on and practice, practice, practice. I would suggest using a mix until you're confident at that, then go to scratch. Always follow the recipe exactly the first time, then you can tweak it the next time. Learn the science behind the banking - - how different ingredients will affect the result.
MEASURE carefully. That is the first skill.
A few things that helped me become a better baker...