Football Cake

Because football! 

I guess 2021 might not be the year, but one of these days when we’re all out of quarantine....there will be Super Bowl parties big enough to need big celebration cakes!

(Disclosure: As a way to keep my kitchen stocked with butter, sugar, and flour I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn a commission by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. 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!) 

Chocolate Cake:

Ingredients: 
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
3 ½ cups caster sugar (caster or granulated sugar)
1 ¾ cups cocoa powder (150 g) roughly 1 ¼ c)
1 ½ baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ c / 24 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 ¼ cups (about 475mL) buttermilk (about 1 ½ ; buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions: 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8 inch round pans and two 6 inch round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray. 
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. 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.

Using a kitchen scale, pour 670 grams of batter into each of your 8” pans. Divide batter evenly between the remaining two 6” pans – I had about 450 grams in each of my smaller pans.
Using the kitchen scale guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
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.

While you’re waiting…make your frosting!

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting – 2x recipe for decorating
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened / 24 oz (3 packages)
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened / 48 T (6 sticks)
6-7 c powdered sugar / (18-21cups)
2-4 Tablespoons milk / (1/2-3/4 cups)
1 T clear vanilla extract / (3 Tablespoons)
1/4 t. salt / (3/4 teaspoon)
Save and add later -
2-4 large drops green gel food color (I used Americolor gel food coloring
½ cup cocoa powder + brown gel color if desired for a darker color

Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.
Reserve about ½ cup of white frosting to use for decorating. Remove 1/3 of the remaining frosting and stir in cocoa powder – you’ll use this for the top tier. Color the remaining frosting green.

Note: When I put this cake together, I actually used two recipes of frosting – one for filling and covering the cake and the rest for coloring and decorating. My mixer bowl’s not quite big enough to hold two recipes of this frosting recipe, so I made the 1x recipe two times! If you happen to have a gigantic mixing bowl, I’ve included the triple amounts in the right column.

 Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- - 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle + one 6-inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles)
- cake dowels or large straws for supporting the base tier
- 2 small piping bags & tips (this set has been one of my favorites!) + 2 large piping bags & tips (I use this set of reusable large bags & tips more than almost any of my others!)
- Grass piping tip (optional)
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)

Assembly:
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired; these cakes usually bake fairly flat so I didn’t trim much from the tops). 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 (or if using any fillings – like chocolate ganache or chocolate chips – pipe a small dam of frosting before filling!)

Next, repeat the same process with your smaller cardboard circle and cake layers. Of note – if your circles aren’t pre-center-punched, be sure to grab a dowel or straw and make your own hole in the exact center of the circle! This will allow you to center the top tier on the base tier later on.

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 tiers to keep crumbs out of your final layer.

Once your crumb coats have set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layers of frosting and smooth. I like to use a large offset spatula and bench scraper for this part, and I used an icing comb to texture my base tier.
For my larger tier, I was able to smooth the frosting fairly well free-handed, but I struggled getting the sides smoothed on my smaller one. Trimming the layers just smaller than the cake circle and using the cardboard as a guide for my bench scraper worked well for smoothing the frosting on the top tier! Once your cakes are covered, place them into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.

Stacking the tiers:

Okaaaay. The stacking process!
How to Make a Tiered Cake’ by Chelsweets is still my favorite video tutorial to date – sometimes seeing the process can be very helpful!

Basically, doweling a tiered cake is done to ensure that the top tier doesn’t crush the lower tier, as well as keeping it centered. I used four shorter cut-to-height plastic straws for my base tier dowels, and one taller one cut at an angle in the center to hold my top tier in place.

Grab your ruler for this next part! Since I was centering a 6-inch cake on top of an 8-inch cake, I pushed the straws down into the base tier just over one inch from the cake edge, placing them evenly at quarter intervals around the cake. Place your last, tallest straw or dowel into the exact center of the cake, making sure to keep it straight up as you press down. Now you’re ready – center the hole in the bottom of your top tier cake circle over the tallest dowel and let the top tier gently down onto the base tier. The dowel will poke into the center of the top tier to hold it in place.

I found that my cardboard cake circle showed more than I was happy with, so I piped some extra frosting onto the base of the top tier and added some sprinkles to hide it!

I used a bench scraper to mark lines on the side of the cake, then used a flat frosting tip to pipe alternating lines 2/3 and 1/3 of the way up the sides of the base tier.
I also used a grass piping tip to add green ‘grass’ frosting to the edge of the base tier, but this is optional (and a little messy)!
Add the football pattern to the top tier while you have that tip on if you’re only using one white icing bag! Switch to a small round tip and pipe on the line markers – and you’re done!

Step back, admire your cake, and find someone to give you a high-five! (Shoot me a DM on Instagram if you can’t find anyone right away!)

Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!