Recipes appropriate for a beginner baker?

snow love
Posted on 12/10/2012 by bubblyshades
Hey everyone, I'm having a Christmas party with my friends this weekend, and I really want to bake something for the party. But I've never baked anything before, despite my curiosity for and interest in it. This time, though, I'm committed to finally trying my hand at baking, and I would love it if anyone could give me some recipes that you think aren't too challenging for a beginner?

I was looking over some cake pop recipes, in particular this one from bakerella. Do you guys think that one is too ambitious for someone at my level, with zero baking experience? 

I'm so happy I found this community because I'm not sure who else to ask (no one in my family bakes, and I'd rather not tell my friends yet in case my first foray into baking turns out to be a disaster, lol). Any input would be greatly appreciated. :) 
de_berzerk 11th-Dec-2012 12:20 pm (UTC)

I make these constantly. They are fantastic, and SO easy. Good luck!
bubblyshades 11th-Dec-2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
Oh gosh these are so cute! They sound delicious too. I'm definitely going to have to try these, maybe not at this upcoming party because someone else is already bringing sugar cookies, but for sure at our next gathering. Thank you for sharing the recipe!
violent_koe 11th-Dec-2012 01:11 pm (UTC)
Mmmm... I would avoid those cake pops until you've garnered some experience. I've been baking and cooking since I was little, but I found cake pops to be one of the most difficult dishes I ever tried. I made them at the request of one of my students and they were eaten with much zeal. HOWEVER, the ones I gave my student were not my first attempt at the decorations (that attempt was aborted after I realized no matter how I tried it was not going to work). I rearranged my ingredients and made the simplest cake pops I could-- just the cake/icing insides and shell with sprinkles.

Anyway... For a first-timer, if you really want something you can decorate, I'd recommend trying cupcakes, which you can decorate any way you like and fix the frosting easily if you get messed up. (There are a lot of nice cupcake recipes floating around on this livejournal if you check out the tags :D). You can even use a mix as a short cut and make your own yummy butter cream frosting and play with different colors and different sprinkles, too.

You could also try gingerbread men if you want to attempt learning how to pipe frosting and use candy pieces for the buttons. :) I think someone posted a recipe for them recently here!
turple_purtle 11th-Dec-2012 01:29 pm (UTC)

Agreed. Cake pops take a lot of time. I did Bakerella's red velvet cake balls ( and that took more time than I expected (mostly in the dipping). And unless you have a cake pop pan for the baked cake pop version, I'd look for something else. =) Frosted cut-out sugar cookies or cupcakes or a cake. Good luck!
teragramm 11th-Dec-2012 01:37 pm (UTC)
I think brownies are a safe bet for beginners. If you live in the USA, Bakers unsweetened chocolate bars (the the orange box) has a recipe on the box for "one bowl brownies". It's easy and you don't need a mixer. Just a microwave, a bowl, a baking pan and an oven. Good luck!

Edited at 2012-12-11 01:37 pm (UTC)
bubblyshades 11th-Dec-2012 10:35 pm (UTC)
Ooo yeah, forgot about brownies - how could I?? I'll look into those Bakers unsweetened chocolate bars when I tackle brownies, making those sound simple enough! Thank you for bringing these to my attention!
layers_of_eli 11th-Dec-2012 01:52 pm (UTC)
Cake pops are probably not the best bet for a beginner -- they're pretty fickle :) I also have quite a hard time with brownies, oddly enough, but maybe that's just me.

I think you'll be VERY ready to tackle the following recipes:

Bars and cookies are very simple for beginners. Also, try your hand at Texas Sheet Cake sometime -- it's amazing and super easy.
bubblyshades 11th-Dec-2012 10:47 pm (UTC)
Oooo wow, I really love the lemon blueberry cheesecake squares with shortbread crust! I'm a sucker for blueberry cheesecake, haha, so those sound right up my alley. The other recipes look lovely as well.

Thank you so much for sharing these with me. I can't wait to try them out!

Edited at 2012-12-11 10:48 pm (UTC)
mi_er 11th-Dec-2012 02:15 pm (UTC)
Leila Lindholm has amazing hazelnut cookies and coconut cookies that are quick, easy and taste amazing. I am on my phone, if you want the recipe but can't find them let me know and I will post them in a comment.
bubblyshades 11th-Dec-2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
I just looked up her hazelnut cookie recipe (think it's this one? and omg, it sounds sooo simple! Plus, I love hazelnut!

Haven't found the coconut cookie recipe yet, but if making those is as simple as making the hazelnut cookies, then I'm totally up for it!

Thank you for sharing these with me! I will definitely give the hazelnut cookies a try.
vysanthe 11th-Dec-2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
Hey there! I have a few cooking videos on youtube, this chocolate fondant recipe is sure to impress but is actually super duper easy to make! Also it has a pastel alpaca to help you along :P
Forgot to add that you should wait til they're cool before you unmold them^^
bubblyshades 11th-Dec-2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
Omg Arpakasso is super cute! And the chocolate fondant looks super yummy, I'll have to try it sometime. Thank you for sharing your video with me!
cevolutiona 11th-Dec-2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks a million
leylarna 11th-Dec-2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
If you want something dead easy but impressive you could try pastry swirls. Just buy some shop made puff pastry sheets, smother them in jam or choc spread then add nuts, fruit, sprinkles, coconut, anything you want really. Then roll it up like a swiss roll, cut into slices about an inch and a half thick and bake for 10 mins, sprinkle with icing sugar and bobs your lobster.

End up like this

You can do them savoury too with parmesan and sun dried tomato, pesto, mozarella and pine nuts etc.
emac66 11th-Dec-2012 04:47 pm (UTC)

Here is a link to a very easy recipe. It's cheating a bit, but no one has to know that! :) Same idea as above with Leylarna. They look really pretty adn impressive.

Another idea are These Lacey oatmeal cookies. Again, really easy and they look pretty.

You could also do like and easy chocolate croissant with puff pastry and some chocolate and few easy additions. Again, really easy but looks impressive.

Good luck!!
bubblyshades 11th-Dec-2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
Those cinnamon elephant ears are super cute! I really like the Lacey oatmeal cookies as well, and the croissants would be great for my brother's birthday, since he loves croissants.

Thank you so much for sharing these recipes with me!
amiyuy 11th-Dec-2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
(I'm pasting my versions of these recipes for notes or adjustments that the online versions don't have.)

I learned how to bake with these and they still impress everyone every time (I make them every few weeks):

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cook Time: 9-11 minutes
Servings: between 2-3 dozen depending on how big you make them

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (about 12 ounces) semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside.
3) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.
4) Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute.
5) Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
6) Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
7) Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 8 to 10 minutes.
8) Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack (not necessary), and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Butter temperature is very important to the final texture of the cookies, make sure it is soft (squishes some when you squeeze it), but not melted.

Also impressive but not baking are:

Oreo Truffles
Recipe Yield: ~48 truffles or 4 dozen

* 1 (16 ounce) package OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, non-Double Stuff
* 1 (8 ounce) package PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
* 2 (8 ounce) packages BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted

1. Crush 1.5 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin or between the bottom of a smaller bowl inside of a larger bowl.)
2. Crush 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl.
3. Soften cream cheese in microwave. Add cream cheese to cookies in medium bowl; mix until well blended. Chill in the freezer or fridge to make it less soft.
4. Roll cookie mixture into balls, about 1-inch in diameter.
5. Melt chocolate in an 8 ounce small bowl.
6. Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper/parchment paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.
7. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

How to How to Easily Dip Truffles
* Place truffle ball in melted chocolate to coat; roll if necessary. Lift truffle from chocolate using 2 forks (this will allow excess chocolate to run off) before placing on wax paper.

Edited at 2012-12-11 05:38 pm (UTC)
bubblyshades 11th-Dec-2012 11:18 pm (UTC)
The cookies sound delicious, but I don't have an electric mixer and I hesitate to get one right now in case I end up not using it so often. Is having one absolutely necessary for this recipe?

Eyeing the truffles, haha. Thank you for sharing your suggestions!
tsuki_no_bara 11th-Dec-2012 06:14 pm (UTC)
snowball cookies! (aka mexican wedding cookies.) super easy and really yummy. you do need a food processor, but if you have one, i highly recommend them.

* 1 cup (two sticks) butter, softened
* 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus some extra for finishing
* 2 cups flour
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 cup chopped pecans (this is what you need the food processor for :D unless you can buy them already chopped)

1) soften the butter, either by leaving it out at room temperature for a while - i usually leave it out about an hour - or by microwaving it on lowest power for one to two minutes.

2) cream the butter and add in the powdered sugar and vanilla.

3) slowly mix in the flour until you have a soft dough, then add in the chopped nuts. i like to squish it all around with my hands at this point to get it mixed, but you can use a mixing spoon if you'd prefer. :)

4) roll the dough into small balls (about as large as those big gumballs in the machines at stores), and place them on a baking sheet. they won't expand much during baking, so you can put them pretty close together.

5) bake at 350º F for 12-15 minutes. you can pull them out about three minutes early and lift one up to look at the bottom. if it's a nice brown, they're done; otherwise, give them a few more minutes.

6) let the cookies cool for at least five minutes, so that they're cool enough not to break apart when handled. put some powdered sugar in a small bowl (i usually use about a half cup), and roll the cookies in it until they're covered and look like snowballs.

7) let the cookies cool, if you have the willpower. you'll have somewhere between 25-32 of them, depending on how big they are. i strongly recommend having milk close by before you dig in!

note: two of the little bags of pecans that you get in the grocery store make slightly more than a cup of chopped nuts. i chop some, measure, chop some more, measure, etc etc until i have a cup of chopped and some leftover not chopped, and then i put the leftover pecans in the freezer until i need them again. (keeps 'em fresher.)
bubblyshades 11th-Dec-2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
Mmmm, these sound wonderful. Since I'm only just beginning my baking journey, there are many tools I haven't acquired yet (an electric mixer, a rolling pin, a food processor, among other things), so this recipe will have to wait a while. But it's on my To Bake list! Thank you for sharing!
nawilla 11th-Dec-2012 06:41 pm (UTC)
I'd suggest the following for a beginner:

1. Drop cookies: chocolate chip, sugar, oatmeal, your pick. You drop them in spoonfuls on the prepared baking sheet, so you don't have to fuss that they don't 'look right'. Just try to make all the cookies on each sheet the same size and be aware that size affects baking time.

2. Cupcakes from a mix: just follow the directions on the box, and you won't have to worry about trying to get the cake out of the pan without tearing it. Slather in icing and sprinkles and put in cupcake wrappers if you want them to look extra nice. (You can always worry about piping the icing into nice shapes on a later attempt. Be sure to line the muffin pan with the cupcake wrappers, it makes it so much easier to get them out).

3. Brownies: either a mix or from scratch, though a mix is easier and less expensive. Follow the directions, should turn out fine.

Biggest tip: if no one in your family bakes, get an oven thermometer and use that to set the temperature. Most household oven thermostats are not accurate, and exact temperature and timing are much more important in baking than in say roasting a chicken. (The difference between underdone and burnt to a crisp is much smaller in baked items).

Edited at 2012-12-11 06:43 pm (UTC)
bubblyshades 11th-Dec-2012 11:28 pm (UTC)
Drop cookies sound super fun! I'll try those next time.

I decided to make cupcakes from a cake mix this time, and it really was super easy. I can't believe I never tried baking sooner.

Brownies are on my To Bake list as well. I'm so excited for all the possibilities!

Thank you for sharing your suggestions and baking tip with me! I might get an oven thermometer somewhere down the line, as I acquire the other baking tools like an electric mixer and a rolling pin, etc.
dancingkirby 11th-Dec-2012 07:08 pm (UTC)
I think seven-layer bars are about the easiest thing there is...I could make them by myself as soon as I was old enough to use the oven.
bubblyshades 11th-Dec-2012 11:23 pm (UTC)
Omg thank you for sharing this with me!! I've totally had a seven-layer bar before, and it was DIVINE. Now I can make some on my own! haha Thanks!
okvegascowgirl 12th-Dec-2012 05:17 am (UTC)

I make a pan of cranberry bars every year for a friend, and just wrap up the whole disposable pan for her! (But they look pretty cut in squares, too.)

I take a much easier approach than the linked recipe; the crust and topping recipe is the same, but for the filling I combine one can whole berry cranberry sauce, 1/3 c. orange marmalade (apricot preserves is nice, too) and a sprinkling of flour. Mix together and spread over crust, just like in the recipe. I've added sliced almonds, chopped pecans, and even walnuts to the filling but just as great without nuts.

Good luck - these really are foolproof!
travistz 12th-Dec-2012 08:01 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing
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