Baking delicious desserts can really be a piece of cake - just as long as you follow the recipe.

Pastry chef Flo Braker, who is also a California caterer, food consultant and author, gives some personal tips in Family Circle magazine.-Preheat oven 15 to 20 minutes before baking: This ensures even heat distribution and prevents uneven cooking.

-Use a warm, not hot, liquid to dissolve and activate yeast: Liquid over 110 degrees will destroy the yeast cultures.

-Store nuts in the freezer: They should be kept in an airtight container. Always taste nuts before adding to a recipe, as their high oil content can cause them to spoil.

-Mark the date of purchase on all spices: After a year on your shelf they will lose flavor and should be replaced.