1: Make sure all ingredients are at room temp.
2: Line cake pans on sides & bottoms with parchment paper.
5: Practice "mise-en-place". That means measure out all of your ingredients before you start.
6: Don't bother sifting, use a whisk instead.
7: Bake on the center rack of your oven.
8: Use great ingredients. Whenever possible use unbleached flour, organic sugar or evaporate cane juice (looks like sugar, just a bit more golden), and real vanilla.
9: If a recipe calls for chocolate, use GOOD chocolate like Ghirardhelli, Guittard and Callebaut. They melt better and have no commercial aftertaste.
10: Do not use dairy or sugar substitutes. If you need to bake with these, use recipes provided by those products as they will cook differently than the original.
11: Once your cake has cooled, leave it in the freezer for an hour or so--it will help you when you get ready to cut.