The first koan in my baking practice was a fairly straight-forward one - a simple cinnamon crumb cake. Rather then diving impetuously into the project, I waited a full week after buying the mixing equipment and ingredients to allow me time to visualize all the steps in the recipe so that there would be no surprises in the middle of the enterprise.
The only real challenge was a layer of apple slices baked into the middle, which required no less than three different mixes for the separate layers (the cake itself, the apple filling, and a walnut crumb topping). It's still cooling, but it looks and smells good enough to eat, and to my surprise and relief held together, even when I had to turn it upside down to get it out of the baking pan.
If you're hungry, come on over - it was made to be given away.