Sweet Leaf

Finding Beauty through Baking ~by Susan Baxter-Peace

Hoops, Anyone? March 30, 2016

We celebrated my sisters’ birthdays over the weekend. They’re both part of an intramural basketball team and were spending the weekend following the NCAA’s March Madness. I immediately knew I wanted to make them a basketball cake!

This was my first attempt at a sphere shaped cake. I suppose I could have just decorated a flat round cake, but where’s the fun in that?! It went pretty well, but the fondant around a sphere was quite challenging.

I baked four 8″ round cakes, two chocolate, two vanilla, and layered them with ermine frosting. Then I froze them in the stack. Once they were well frozen I started trimming and shaping with a knife. It became clear pretty quickly that it was going to be very hard to shape a round top and have enough cake left to make a good sized basketball. So I mixed the trimmings with some frosting and molded it onto the top to get the round shape (T-Rex style, see here). Once the sphere was shaped I did a crumb coat all over and put it in the fridge to chill.

I took it out shortly before putting on the fondant, so it would still be cool enough to hold its shape, but not so cold that it would sweat and make the fondant droopy. This batch of fondant was a little dryer than usual, and as a result it made the difficult sphere shape even harder because it all started cracking as I rounded it down to the bottom. It looked great until I got about halfway down the sides. I tried to smooth the cracks, but I couldn’t get it smooth enough without squishing dents into the cake. So, because it was for family, I opted to leave the cracks knowing that they would probably be okay with it. Once the lines of the ball were marked, I rolled out the black fondant and attached thin strips with meringue powder glue.

Overall I was quite happy with how it turned out. It was a fun challenge to do a sphere, and now I just need to practice keeping it smooth around the bottom!

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