I recently got a request for a basketball themed birthday cake, specifically a New York Knicks themed one. The recipient sent me two pictures of what they wanted… One was simply a round cake with the Knicks logo on top and the other was a jersey themed cake. I opted to go with the latter.
At first I thought I would have to carve the cake on the sides and on the top to replicate the armholes and neck hole, but, after going through some pics on Pinterest and envisioning the cake in my head I realized I wouldn’t have to. Which was a good thing, I have never carved a cake before and I don’t think the first time I attempt it should be for someone’s birthday cake.
To make things simple I opted to use a box cake mix for the cake. While the directions on the box said one would suffice to make a 9×13-inch sheet cake I wanted to be sure the cake would have some height to it so I opted to use one and a half boxes of mix. I thought using two full boxes would be too much and the cake might overflow while baking and I also had a Halloween theme I wanted to try with the cupcakes – that’s coming in a later post. I prepped the cake mixes per the directions in two separate bowls and then with one I filled the cavities of a 12-cup muffin tin with a 1/4 cup of batter in each. I then poured the remaining batter into the bowl with the full amount and folded the two together before pouring it into a 9×13-inch pan I sprayed with baking spray. Once the cake was done I let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting it onto a wire rack to cool completely . Once it was cool I wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight.
And while I used a box cake mix for the cake, I opted to make the frosting from scratch. I made a simple vanilla frosting that I planned to use for both the cake and cupcakes. After torting the cake, I placed the cut side down on a cake board and spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides. Then it was time to decorate. I opted to decorate the cake as the home jersey for the Knicks in white. Initially I was thinking of decorating it by using fondant paneling as I did with the YouTube themed cake I made earlier this year. And I even started doing so by cutting strips of white fondant and placing them on the sides of the cake. But, when it came to placing the top piece on I decided to cut it a little longer and wider than what I needed. And I am actually happy I did so. When you looked at the cake along the sides it almost looked like the jersey was draped and it gave the cake nice round edge.
After getting the white fondant done it was time to decorate with the blue and orange fondant to create the armholes and neck hole. At one point I was thinking of doing this part with frosting, but, I am happy I nixed that idea. The fondant gave it a much cleaner look and it was easier to correct any mistakes in measuring and placing. I rolled the fondant into strips and then cut them to form the curves. I let the pieces sit on the cake for a few minutes so they could take on curved shape while drying out a little to make it easier to adhere them to the cake with a dab of water. Next, I added the last name, which was a little tricky since I had limited space for all of the letters, but, I was able to make it work. At this point I took a break from decorating and placed the cake in the refrigerator to continue working on it the next day.
To create the numbers for the cake I purchased Wilton fondant molds. At first I had no clue how to use them. I knew I couldn’t use them as regular cookie cutters but I tried to anyway and it was a fail. I had a feeling that I would have to get the fondant into the crevice and then freeze it, but, just to be sure I did a quick Google search and my suspicions were correct. So, I pressed small amounts of fondant into the crevices and then placed the molds in the freezer for about a half hour. Once the fondant had frozen it was easy to remove it from the molds and I had a perfect 4 and 0.
Now, to create the basketball on the cake I got pretty creative. I could have just done it with a mound of frosting, or shaped one of the cupcakes I made, but, while at the craft store picking up supplies for the cake I though why not cut a Styrofoam ball in half to create the perfect round shape. I was pretty sure I had Styrofoam balls at home from other craft projects, but, I wandered over to the aisle anyway and found something even better, a half round ball Styrofoam that I wouldn’t have to cut.
I began decorating it by creating the lines on the basketball. I tinted chocolate frosting with black food coloring (it’s much quicker and easier than using vanilla frosting) and simply piped the lines onto the Styrofoam. Next, I tinted about a cup of vanilla frosting with copper gel food coloring and using a small star tip I filled in the Styrofoam ball between the black lines with small stars. I decorated it on wax paper and then placed it in the fridge for an hour or so so the frosting could firm up before transferring it onto the cake.
So, I had the numbers on the cake and the basketball, but, I felt like it needed something more..
To finish the cake I added the New York Knicks logo to the top. I could have been super creative and made it myself using fondant, but, I made it myself by printing it off the internet and then cutting it out. I definitely think that was the finishing piece the cake needed.
Everyone loved it and can I just say, there I something that is so delicious and comforting about a simple yellow cake.