Ta-Dah! Jim's birthday cake turned out awesome! I was very excited about how it came out, my decorating skills are getting much better. Like the old adage says, "Practice makes perfect", it really is true. Baking the cakes the night before was genius, especially since when I asked Jim where he wanted to go out to dinner he replied, "Why don't we just stay in?". Not only did I have to decorate his cake but I would have to make dinner too, I started to panic. Everything came together in the end (I promise to share Jim's special birthday dinner dish tomorrow), and I'll end this post with another popular quote recited by thousands of young boy scouts all over America, "Always be prepared".
Assembly & Decoration
Begin by slicing 1/2 a cup of strawberries lengthwise and set aside.
Place the bottom layer of your cake on a cake stand. Tuck in small strips of parchment paper along the edges, overlapping them.
Meanwhile, prepare your frosting. Jim isn't a big fan of overly sweet frosting, so I opted to frost the cake with fresh whipped cream. In a bowl, combine 2 cups of cold heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Beat until stiff peaks form. Place whipped cream in the refrigerator to keep cold until needed.
Now back to the cake...
Place 3 tablespoons of prepared vanilla custard on the first layer and spread out evenly using the back of a spoon. Using a serrated knife, trim the crown of your cake (as needed) to make the surface of the cake even and flat. Luckily I still had fresh custard in the refrigerator left over from the Fruit Basket Cake (you can find the recipe for the custard in that post) I had made.
Save 1/2 an inch along the edges, the weight of the top layer will push your filling to the edge.
Arrange your strawberries atop of the custard.
Carefully place the second layer of cake atop the first one.
Using a off set spatula apply a coat of whipped cream to your cake and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to help it set. Note: Make room in your fridge for the cake stand, or if you're lucky, you may have a stand that allows the plate to be removed, like mine does.
Meanwhile bring 1/4 cup of heavy cream to a boil in a saucepan.
Place 1/2 a cup of semi-sweet chocolate in a medium bowl.
Add half of the hot cream to the chocolate and stir to melt. If you have trouble melting your chocolate you can add a few more drops of cream or nuke it in the microwave for 10 seconds. Be careful not to burn the chocolate! Melting chocolate can be funny business.
Once your chocolate ganache is smooth and silky, place it in the refrigerator to cool. We want to harden the chocolate just a bit so that it will keep its form when piped with a pastry bag & tip.
Meanwhile, remove the cake from the refrigerator, place it back atop your stand and apply another coat of whipped cream. You can place any remaining whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a tip and create a decorative border like I did.
When your chocolate has reached the right consistency, add it to a clean pastry bag fitted with a small round tip and add decorative details like a custom Birthday greeting.
Light candles (I opted for the long sparkler kind) and celebrate! Isn't it picture perfect? Happy Birthday Jim!