Ben’s birthday cake: part two

I stayed true to my original plan of buttermilk, cake, strawberry jam, mascarpone cream and fresh strawberries, and boy I’m glad I did. It was gooooood. Still is – I’m munching the leftovers, less elegantly assembled but tasty all the same.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First up, the buttermilk birthday cake (Nigella, How to Be A Domestic Goddess, p210) and another gratuitous kMix shot:

Batter duly mixed, it was into the oven with the loaf and round tins. I doubled the mixture to get enough cake to play with, and while the loaf was done in 40 minutes, the round one took a good 15-30 minutes longer, and was still a teeny bit wet in the middle, but I got impatient so took it out and hoped for the best.

So, onto the fun bit – putting it all together. I had thought I might cut out bit of paper the same size and shape of the cake tins and do a paper run of the pattern, but I threw caution to the wind and trusted my instincts that it would all work out….and thankfully I was right, as this part was done about 2 hours before the party, and took about an hour.

I had already made both the buttercream icing and the mascarpone/fromage frais mix (which – minus the passionfruit – is the filling given for the classic sponge cake in Delia How to Cook, Book one, p132) just leaving the ganache to do.

I get pretty scared making ganache, and have had it split on me more times than it has worked. I think the balance may be creeping back into my favour since learning that hot cream over cold chocolate works best. It needed a little help from a bain marie this time round, but I kept the heat really gentle, and short, and it came out well, if a little thick.

Also in my cakey mise en place were fresh raspberries and strawberries, and jams of both fruits.

First up, cutting the chocolate cakes into a the shape of a 3, slathering the bottom halves with raspberry jam, piping on the mascarpone mix, and dotting with raspberries.

I repeated that process using strawberry jam, and strawberries for the zero.

The tops of each cake were gentled pressed into place (filling inevitably oozed out, but hey, it’s meant to look homemade!), chocolate ganache dribbled over the 3, buttercream dabbed onto the zero….and ta-dah! A birthday cake fit for a Greek God of wine, as Ben was for the evening. (The party was b-themed, in honour of the birthday boy 🙂 )

The cake went down a storm, pierced by candles and accompanied by a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday!”. And has got me thinking about my own 30th birthday cake….hmm, what to have? I’ve got a few months to decide….but the mascarpone cream is a strong contender whatever the cake.

M and I’s whole birthday extravaganza needs some proper consideration since September is but 4 months away. Making Ben’s cake got me thinking properly about it as the venue will dictate the food possibilities, so must come first in order for me to start thinking about the food and we know how much I like to menu-plan….so Project 30 has begun!

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