1. A hot oven can cause a cake to rise too much in the center. Use an oven thermometer--the type that is made to hang from your oven rack--in order to achieve the correct oven temperature.
2. If your layers are higher in the center than you would like, slice off the top with a serrated knife.
3. For a cake that is perfectly flat on top, invert one layer onto another one. It will be flat from the bottom of the cake pan.
4. Simple syrup can be brushed onto baked layers for added moistness. You can flavor it with liquors, espresso or extracts.
5. Prevent cheesecakes from cracking by coating the sides of the pan with cooking spray. As it cools, it will shrink away from the sides of the pan.
6. If your layers are crumbly, frost the cake and freeze it until set. Then you'll have a smooth and even layer to frost over.
7. Dust your finished cakes with confectioners' sugar just before serving for a luxurious winter look.
8. Eggshells in the cake batter? No problem. As the cake bakes they will sink to the bottom, and you can remove them easily when you take the cake out of the pan.
9. Decorate your cakes by covering the sides with chopped nuts. They'll add flavor and crunch.
10. For a quick seasonal touch, dip cranberries in water or egg white then roll in granulated sugar. Allow them to dry for a few hours at room temperature, then arrange on top of the cake.
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