Learn to Bake in 5 Easy Recipes

The poet Emily Dickinson was an avid baker, and, on the back of a recipe card for coconut cake, she wrote these opening lines:

But while her gifts as a poet are clear here, she expresses the opposite of what baking can do. A birthday cake brings back the joy of childhood, maybe even raises hope, and baking beloved recipes from the deceased resurrects memories of them.

Even if the goal isn’t reclaiming what’s lost, the simple act of baking can conjure unexpected delight. When you’re preparing a meal and starting with salmon and potatoes, you end up with cooked salmon and potatoes. But when you’re baking, you start with a slew of powders, golden butter and an egg, and you end up with crackly-edged, chewy blondies.

Recipe: Birthday Cake Blondies

Think of these as a starter birthday cake to make for friends — or yourself. Just mix the batter by hand and bake.Credit…Joseph De Leo for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini.

More easy bars: Easy Peanut Butter Fudge | Lemon Bars | Black Sesame Rice Krispies Treats

If you’re a beginner in the kitchen, baking is an ideal entry point. Unlike cooking, there’s no pressure to make food that’s meant to sustain, no urgency from step to step. You can go at your pace, and the process can even feel relaxing. These five foolproof recipes are the best place to start: They require only a handful of tools and ingredients — and no experience. They welcome other seasonings and flavors, and guarantee something tasty. Make them all to learn the basics of baking, or try any one that appeals to you. Not only are they easy, but they also offer the satisfaction of dessert and the wonder at having made it yourself.

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