The Cake Commandments

Baking tips from Jane Hornby's new cookbook

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"I got this amazing bargain," Jane Hornby gushes over the phone.

"Two boxes of blueberries for two pounds, which is nothing," explains the celebrated British cookbook author. "I think I might make some blueberry cinnamon crumb cake with it and take it to some friends over the weekend."

Most revert to pies when berries pop up, but clearly Hornby, dubbed "Gen Y's Nigella Lawson," is a cake person. And with her upcoming book, What to Bake & How to Bake It (Phaidon, $35), all she wants to do is to teach people how to make a jelly roll and other simple, timeless desserts.

"It's got some basics," Hornby continues. "The aim is to really break it down, so people can get the recipe right the first time rather than guessing their way through."

And by "break it down," she means the nearly 500 step-by-step photographs that accompany a mere 50 recipes, clearly illustrating the whole baking process. Hornby recently relaunched her website to further walk people through her cooking process, from making the best of seasonal vegetables to choosing which kitchen appliances to invest in.

But given Hornby's love for cakes, we asked for her baking commandments, and here's her list:

Read ahead. "You add something and realize you didn't sift before," Hornby says. "Make sure you read the recipe before you start."

Get your mise together. It's all in the details, especially when it comes to baking. "Prepare things ahead of time," Hornby says. "Make sure your butter is the right softness and your eggs are the right temperature. All these things are vital."

Invest in a scale. "Without that, you will get something terrible!" warns Hornby. "There's a difference between weighing and measuring it out. I spent months getting the American conversions in cups right for the book."

Learn how to properly cream butter and sugar. "You want the butter to be like mayonnaise in a jar," Hornby says. Nice, creamy and soft. Then, comes the sugar, which give it fluff. "You want to beat those two until pale and creamy, which adds air," Hornby concludes.

For more tips and tricks, check out Hornby's website.