Chocolate Cake for a Beginner

Delicious Chocolate Cake
I want to become a better baker, especially now that the weather is changing and it’s getting cold outside. I’ve baked cakes before, but always from a box mix. I decided it was time to change that! I enrolled in a class on Skillshare called The Art Of Baking: A Beginners Guide. It has lots of good tips and recipes for the basics: cakes, cookies, bread, and pastry. When I finished the class I felt ready for my first chocolate cake. I followed the recipe on the back of a bag of Ghirardelli cocoa powder and frosted it with chocolate buttercream. It was really good! Some things I learned:

  1. Read through the entire recipe before you begin. You don’t want to be surprised by an ingredient or tool you don’t have on hand.
  2. Gather all of your ingredients and tools in one place. This makes it easy to follow a recipe you’re unfamiliar with.
  3. Measure accurately! Baking is like chemistry so accuracy matters.
  4. Make sure your oven temperature is correct, you may need to buy a separate oven thermometer. It took much longer than the recipe called for for my cake to come out, I have a feeling my oven temperature is off.

In the end I found that baking a chocolate cake from scratch really isn’t that much more difficult than a box mix.

Ghirardelli Grand Fudge Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup softened butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour two 9″ cake pans.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

Reduce speed and add vanilla and eggs one at a time.

Alternately add flour mixture and milk while mixing on low speed. Continue to mix until smooth.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.


Custom Vintage Type

I’ve always wanted to learn about creating type from scratch so I signed up for this Skillshare class taught by Simon Walker. He sure makes it look easy! Starting with just a simple stroke width I learned to work in different thicknesses to create the type. I have to say, I’m not very happy with my first results. I am going to try again though! This is one of those skills I really need practice on.
By the way, D’Anna’s is a deli in Soquel that is really yummy! If you’re ever in the neighborhood pop in a get the Gene Burns sandwich – roast beef, pesto and roasted red peppers.

Logo Design with Aaron Draplin

Here’s another cool Skillshare class, this time taught by Aaron Draplin. I adore his design work, it’s simple but awesome. I picked up a few of the Field Notes memo books he designed and always have one kicking around with me. Check out the memo book archive – all that vintage design is scrumptious!

In this logo design class we were instructed on how to use simple shapes and type to create a family crest. I learned how to keep it simple and really work on the shapes and negative space. My crest includes a hummingbird to symbolize determination, a drafting compass which is where my roots are, a guitar because music saves my life everyday, and a stylized ocean wave because I live by the ocean and never want to leave. The Latin reads: This too shall pass.
I took the lessons I learned and used them to create this Chihuahua crest. I love the simplicity and colors and am discovering that less is sometimes more.