Last weekend I got to try another very fun cake design – a soccer ball cake – for my best friend’s 2-year-old’s birthday.
I was so happy with how it turned out! I had never tried making a spherical cake before and I did research it quite a bit – from what cake tins to use, to how much cake mixture to use and most importantly what size and shapes to use for the soccer ball pattern.
First of all I bought the Wilton ball cake tin which comes with two semi-sphere halves and two stands. I filled both cake tins almost to the top with the cake mixture (it was caramel mud cake – yum!) leaving about 1 cm at the top. I was a bit worried that I had overfilled them, but as it turned out they rose beautifully and I was able to use the tins as a guideline to cut the tops of the cakes off to make them into perfect semi-spheres.
I then cut just a tiny bit off the bottom of one of the semi-spheres so that it would be more stable and wouldn’t roll off the cake board.
I used dark chocolate ganache to stick the two semi-spheres together and then used the rest of the ganache to cover the whole ball. I found that it was quite difficult to get it perfectly smooth, but it helped to dip a knife in boiling hot water, then dry it, and immediately use it to smooth the ganache. The warmth of the knife melted and smoothed the surface at the same time. This is what it looked like in the end. You can see it still wasn’t 100% smooth (I got impatient!) but it wouldn’t matter in the end as it would all get covered in fondant.
Mmm dark chocolate ganache... very hard to stop myself just eating it straight out of the bowl!
After the ganached cake had been refrigerated for about an hour it was time to decorate it! While I had the cake in the fridge I had cut out the black pentagons and white hexagons that would make up the soccer ball pattern. Being a bit of a nerd I had used Microsoft Excel to calculate the exact size they had to be to fit perfectly on my 16cm soccer ball, but if you don’t want to calculate it just trust me that the sides of both shapes were 3.3cm. A real soccer ball has 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons so I cut out almost that many, knowing that I wouldn’t be using all of them because the bottom side of the ball (the part sitting on the cake board) would not be visible.
I used a very simple method to cut out the shapes. I didn’t have a cutter so I just created both shapes in Microsoft Word and printed them onto white paper, cut them out and used them as templates to cut my fondant with. It was a little bit time consuming but worked great.
Earlier in the day I also rolled out some green fondant and stuck it to the board so that the ball would have a nice grassy green board to stand on. I used a bit of sugar glue to stick the cake onto the middle of the board. I then started sticking the shapes onto the ball using sugar glue, starting at the top and working down.
I did find that as I got past the join (in the middle) the shapes weren’t fitting quite as well – I think this was because the ball wasn’t perfectly spherical which I hadn’t realised. It was a little bit wider than it was high. To avoid this in the future I will use a thicker layer of ganache in the middle to stick the two halves together. Anyway I kept going until the bottom...
When I got right to the bottom I found I had to alter the shapes quite a bit to make them fit but I don’t think you could really tell on the final product. For the final touch I cut out the letters for ‘Happy 2nd Birthday Sam’ out of white and black fondant and stuck the message around the board. This is what it ended up looking like:
I think the birthday boy actually thought it was a real soccer ball when he saw it! :)
As the cake was fairly small I also made some cupcakes and decorated them like little soccer balls - they looked incredibly cute with the cake. I topped off the cupcake tower with a little bow cupcake too.