Big Blue Birthday Madness

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband's birthday was last weekend. We had a busy week after his party so I am just now getting to post my tutorial! I contemplated forever about what to make, I wanted it to be special. After many ideas, I finally decided on a UK Wildcats basketball cake. He has always been a big fan, and UK is also our alma mater.

I looked at various pictures and ideas on Pinterest and Google images, but then decided to try to create my own. My goal was to make a cake that looked like a basketball arena with the floor and basketball goal. I also wanted to have some extra Wildcat details on the side.

This cake takes considerable effort, but is definitely worth the time. My husband was so surprised and loved the cake! Parts have to be done in advance, at least 48 hours. It was exciting, though, to work on it little bits at a time and see the cake evolve.  I have created a tutorial for the decor.  I was actually remembering to take pictures this time, until about halfway through the process... Oh well!  At least I remembered to take some this time and didn't have to do it all over again, like with my last fondant tutorial.  I'm gradually getting better.

This cake requires parts that need time to dry.  I would suggest starting at least 48 hours in advance.  The basketball goal, especially, takes a while to harden.  The great thing is as long as you store it in sealed container (after it dries) it will last forever!  So you could even do this weeks beforehand, whenever you have the time.

48 Hours (or more) Before Assembling the Cake:

First, I started on the basketball goal.  If you want a decoration on the cake to stand up, your best bet is to use gum paste rather than fondant.  Some people also use a fondant/gum paste blend, but I really wanted this to harden. This process requires a couple steps with time allowed for hardening in between, so I would start this at least a couple days before you decorate the cake.
  • Roll out a section of fondant thats about 4 inches long and just slightly less thick than your pinky finger.
  • Next I cut out an approximately 2" square piece of fondant to serve as the backboard.  You can use fondant rollers, cookie cutters and cake decor tools to cut the fondant (as shown in the figure below), or you can just use a sharp knife or Exacto knife.  I just realized (as I was typing this tutorial) that backboards are typically round on top.  So feel free to cut a rounded edge instead of a square.  I'm gonna just blame that on my total lack of experience and knowledge in sports.  I was that kid who dreaded PE and longed for music class.  :)
  • I added the lines on the backboard with an edible pen
  • I assembled the two pieces using gum glue (see last post for instructions).  This was an important part to hold together, so I didn't want to just go by gum glue.  I also used a pointed fondant tool to mark the back and press in some to more securely combine the two pieces.  I remembered doing this years ago in art class when working with clay!

  • I let that sit and start to harden some as I worked on the next part.
  • I wanted to create the base for the basketball goal. I used the medium and small size cookie cutters to cut out a donut shape out of the white.  
  • Gum glue was used to cover the inside of the disk, as well as the bottom portion of the basketball goal.  I cut out a small size of gum paste that I rolled and stuck in the hole around the basketball goal.
  • I also used some blue gum paste to create an additional layer of gum paste on the bottom.

  • I moved this to the side and let dry.
  • Next, I started on the net.  I simply cut out a rectangle and drew the lines to represent the net on with a blue edible marker.
Cut a white rectangle from this and drew diagonal lines for the net
  • I made a round blue circle of rolled gum paste to serve as the rim.  This circle had a knob on the back to attach to the backboard. 
  • Using gum glue, I attached the net to the rim.
 I haven't attached the two portions yet, but here are the parts shown together.
  • I let the main portion of the basketball goal dry by stacking small boxes and objects around it to make it stand up straight. I also let the other portion (net and rim) dry off to the side.
24 Hours (or more) Before Assembling the Cake:

My goal for the next step was to complete the basketball goal, basketball, and floor.  Make sure your two pieces of the basketball goal are hardened before proceeding.  These steps are much easier than the last set of steps.  Unfortunately, I did forget to take some pictures on a few steps!  
  • The next step is to assemble the basketball goal.  I rolled out a new piece of fondant to attach to the backboard (with gum glue) that the knob on the rim would fit into.  Make sure you use plenty of gum glue!
  • Next it's time to make the basketball.  Roll out fondant or gum paste about the size of a large marble.  Make sure it's about the size that would fit in the net, to make it realistic.
  • Color the fondant using equal red and yellow gel coloring and making sure to work through it completely.
  • Once it is smooth and rolled into a ball, draw on the lines (with an edible marker) and then set to the side to dry.
  • Next, finish up by creating the floor.  I started by coloring two balls of fondant.  Make one shade slightly darker than the other.
  • Mix the two sets of fondant together, but not completely.  You want to see some variations in color and lines to represent the hardwood floor.
  • Roll out the fondant to about 1/16 in.
  • Use the cake pan, or any round object approximately the size of your cake to cut out a circle of the fondant.
  • I used the Wilton roller cutter to cut 1" strips.  After doing this, I realized I wanted them smaller and cut them in half.  If you don't have a roller cutter, you could carefully use a knife, or preferably an Exacto knife.

  • Next, I moved the strips in and out so they were no longer in a line.  I then made a few horizontal cuts.  Once putting them back in line, this will make it seem like a floor with alternating locations of the seams.
  • Let all components sit out until time to assemble cake!

Assembling the Cake:

Now you need an iced cake or one covered in fondant.  I prefer to cover the cake in buttercream and use fondant decor.  I'm all about the icing on the cake, so I want that great buttercream taste.  Some people have a tasty fondant recipe, or don't care for icing as much, and want the smooth lines that fondant creates.  Whichever you prefer is great!  I actually have done this cake both ways.  My husband's birthday dinner with my family was on a Sunday.  The NEXT night I had to create a final cake for my Wilton class.  So, I kept the fondant decor and recreated it.  The class was learning how to cover a cake in fondant, so now I have it in both ways!

For my cake, I again made the Hershey's chocolate cake.  This is my husband's favorite!  I decided to go with just a chocolate cake and buttercream icing, instead of trying the different flavors combinations like before (Andes mint or coffee).  I'm not a huge fan of chocolate cake, but I actually like this one when paired with the buttercream!  (Yes, I know it is odd I don't like chocolate...) I also put a filling in the center of the cake that was crushed Oreos mixed in with some buttercream.  This wasn't real strong, but enhanced the flavor of the cake.

Once your cake is cooled, filled, and iced - it's ready for the fun to begin!

  • First you want to cover the cake with the flooring.  If attaching gum paste or fondant to fondant, just use gum glue.  If attaching to buttercream, use icing or vanilla.
  • I lined up the floor the way I wanted it, and THEN attached the pieces.  Otherwise I could see me getting it off center.
  • Next I colored and rolled out blue fondant for the "UK" and paw prints.  I had U and K cookie cutters for the letters.  I used the medium and small Wilton circle cookie cutters for paw print.
  • I also colored and rolled orange fondant for the basketballs.  I used the medium cookie cutter for those.  I also added lines to the basketballs with an edible marker.
  • I attached the fondant paw prints and basketballs along the side of the cake, and the "UK" to the floor board.
  • I added final details with some extra buttercream icing, dyed blue.  Using a #3 tip, I created a semi-circle shaped line around the basketball goal.  
  • I finished the cake with a ball border around the top and bottom of the cake, using the #12 tip.

Version with buttercream icing

Version with fondant
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  This cake is certainly the most involved one I have done yet, but it was a big hit!  And if you aren't a Wildcat fan, it can easily be altered to suit your team.

Don't forget to like my Facebook page if you are a guest reading this!  I love to get feedback and see your ideas as well.  I'm still planning on having the contest when I hit 100 likes!  :)

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