Mark Weinberg/Food52
September 1, 2015 11:08 AM EDT

Whether you’re making a towering skyscraper of buttercream or a one-bowl wonder, baking a cake is an investment—in time, in ingredients, and in pride. And with so much on the line, it’s only logical that you do everything you can to guarantee that your cake is realized as slices on plates rather than scraps in the trash can.

With tips from Alice Medrich, baking expert extraordinaire, you—and your cake—are in good hands. From the recipe you choose to the time you allow your cake to cool before digging into it, Alice’s 10-step program will help ensure your cake (and your ego) remain intact.

Here’s what to do:

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