Everyone appreciates a homemade cake. We'll show you how to bake a winner every time.
Credit: Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

From birthdays to weddings and occasions in between, cakes often define life's great moments. In many ways, the cake sets the tone of the event. Cupcakes signal a fun and whimsical touch, while pound cakes appear at family and community potlucks. A grand cake, moist and tender with creamy filling and finished with fluffy frosting, marks a truly special occasion.

Cakes belie the simple effort required to make them. Most can be made ahead, and they're portable. The hectic holiday season is the perfect time to invest just a bit of effort for such a huge return.

We turned to Test Kitchens Professional Jan Moon to teach us a few tricks of the trade. Moon has been baking cakes professionally for 10 years, and she's turned out too many of them to count during her career. She shares all of her secrets so you, too, can have sweet success.