Basketball Cake

Basketball Cake

How to make a Basketball Cake when you have next to zero time...

I once got a slightly anxious-sounding request from one of my co-workers. After a cancellation by another baker, she needed a basketball cake for her son’s birthday. One catch - the party was in just a couple of days! I had the day available to drop off the cake….but with so little notice, and two 12-hour shifts to work in the meantime, I had *very* little time to work with! 

A few more elaborate ideas off the table because of the short time available - this was the design we went with! It was easy to assemble and decorate, and was a big hit at the party!

This would be a great go-to if you need a basketball cake for a kids birthday party, a basketball season-end party, or even a March Madness game day party! Recipe+links+video below!

(Disclosure: As an Amazon associate I may earn from qualifying purchases, and my posts often contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you!) 


Do I have to make the cake / frosting from scratch? 

  • Absolutely not if you don't want to! You can substitute 2 of your favorite chocolate (or other flavor) cake mixes plus the ingredients the mix calls for; keep the baking pans the same! 
    Store bought frosting is usually a little thinner than my recipe; add a 1/4 cup of extra powdered sugar at a time until you reach a consistency that spreads and stays in place on the cake well. 

Can I make the cake / frosting ahead of time? 

  • Definitely! Wrap the cake layers well and refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 4 months. Transfer the frosting to a zip-lock bag and squeeze out the extra air, and again - refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 4 months. 
    Cover any remaining cake well to keep it from drying out - it will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the fridge for 3-5 days. 

Basketball Cake - pinterest pin

Basketball Cake

How to make a super simple Basketball cake - perfect for when you have next to zero time!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Decorating time20 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Basketball Cake
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 755kcal
Author: Sarah H



Chocolate Basketball Cake layers

  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour (350 grams)
  • 2 ¼ cups granulated sugar (450 grams)
  • 1 ¼ cup cocoa powder (100 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (5 grams)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt (4 grams)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (227 grams or 2 sticks, softened)
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups 350mL buttermilk (350mL; buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Buttercream frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese one package, softened
  • 16 Tablespoons butter two sticks, softened
  • 6-7 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 T clear vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter
  • Orange gel food color (feel free to add later if you’d rather use less food color & fill the cake with white frosting! I used Americolor orange)
  • Black gel food color (Save and use later! I used Americolor Super Black)


Basketball Cake layers

  • Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C) or 325 FC (160C) for a convection oven. Grease 3 8-inch cake pans with baker's floured spray and/or line pans with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients and no lumps of butter are visible.
  • Next, add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. With the mixer on low, add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.
  • Fill the three pans evenly - I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part, and each of mine weighed out to about 550g. Bake for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans, and cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined. (If you want to use a bit less color, you can fill and crumb-coat your cake layers with white frosting and just use orange for the outermost coat of frosting. Up to you!)
  • Add gel food color until desired color is reached – if you have time, making your frosting a day or so ahead and letting it sit overnight to let the color deepen lets you get away with less gel color!
  • Remove about ¼ cup of frosting from the bowl and add Black gel food color (I used Americolor Super black) until a dark consistency is reached. You can also add a bit of cocoa powder to deepen the color without using so much gel color! (You'll use this at the end to decorate!)


  • Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle.
  • Spread the layer with frosting, and center your next cake layer on top. Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.

Frosting & Decorating

  • Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer. I usually do this with my large offset spatula.
  • Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
  • Now you’re ready to decorate! Transfer your black frosting to a piping bag fitted with a flat/oblong nozzle (see links above) and (see video for help with this part) pipe first a ‘+’ over the top of the cake and down the sides. Add two curved lines to the top - )( - and follow the lines down the sides of the cake.



Serving: 1slice | Calories: 755kcal | Carbohydrates: 98g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 35g
And you’re done! Super easy!

Did you make this Basketball cake?

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