Are you watching the World Cup, and which team are you supporting?
I made this football cake in honour of the World Cup and the only fitting place to photograph it was on the grass!
Yes, this is a cake!
I have got the Wilton Sports Ball pan and thought the World Cup was the perfect opportunity to use it. Unfortunately it was only after I mixed the cake batter and went to look for the tin that I realised it was in my storage unit. It was such a long time ago that I put my house on the market - back in February - and we wanted to declutter to make it look nicer for the viewings. At the time I couldn't think of anything I would need the sports ball pan for, as I thought we would have moved in to the new place by May, or perhaps at a push June. Now we are in July and having just been told that the people whose house we are buying are away next week, then the woman buying my house is away the week after, we now won't be moving until August. And the most annoying thing is we don't have a holiday booked as we didn't think we could go away during this process, though it seems nobody else shared that view!
I had my cake batter and no cake tin so decided instead to use a pyrex bowl. I had to then double the batter and it has meant that the cake is quite big! Decorating it wasn't very easy either but I am pretty happy with the way it turned out.
The recipe I used was Hershey's "perfectly chocolate" cake which you can find online here. To be honest I wasn't that impressed with it; it may have been down to the extended cooking time but the texture was a bit odd. It tasted good though!
As I said, I doubled the quantities. For one cake - or in this case, one half of the football - you need:
2 cups caster sugar
1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla flavouring
1 cup boiling water
Ingredients for the chocolate ganache filling given below.
Preheat oven to 175C. Mix the sugar, flour, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl. Mix the eggs, milk and vegetable oil in a jug and gradually pour into the dry ingredients, mixing well. Finally add the vanilla and carefully stir in the boiling water until you have a thin chocolatey batter.
Spray the pyrex dish with Cake Release (the quantity of cake batter shown here is about a litre) and pour the cake mixture into the dish. Bake in the preheated oven for an hour and a half - it takes a long time as the cake is so deep. If the top starts to burn, cover with foil.
When the cake is cooked, cool in the dish then turn out. As I didn't have my Wilton sports ball tin but wanted to make a round cake, I had to repeat this whole process to make the other half. Of course, you could just decorate half the football and it would still look good!
I made a chocolate ganache for the filling, by melting 100g of plain chocolate in 100ml of double cream in a saucepan and stirring until smooth and glossy. Leave to cool in the fridge until thickened.
Spread another quarter of the chocolate ganache over the base of the cake and repeat with the other cake so you have used almost all the chocolate ganache. Reserve a little bit to stick on the fondant.
Carefully place one half of the cake on top of the other then place the cake on a cake board.
I had in mind the traditional black and white hexagon pattern to decorate the football but was told afterwards this design hasn't been used on professional footballs for a long time - apparently the different panels made the ball less aerodynamic. Either way, I still think this is the most immediately recognisable football design so that's what I wanted for my cake.
I bought some black roll-out fondant and already had white at home. I made a hexagon template out of card and cut around that to make several pieces.
I put a little of the leftover chocolate ganache on each piece and started at the top and worked my way down. As I got towards the bottom some of the hexagon pieces didn't quite fit properly so the cake looks good from a distance but not so perfect close up!
I am also sending this to Chris at Cooking Around the World for the final of his World Cup challenge; the idea has been to make something from each of the participating countries which strictly speaking I haven't done with this cake, but hopefully he will agree that a football cake is fitting for the day of the final!