Have a Ball Creating a Perfectly Spherical Cake!

Posted by on Jun 4, 2013 in Cake Decorating | Comments


The nemesis of even the most accomplished cake decorators, the spherical cake takes a bit of work. But with the right baking pan, a few tips and the right tools, you’ll soon be totally on the ball! This tutorial shows you how to create a small spherical cake using the Wilton 6” ball pan.

ball cake

Step 1: Begin by baking your cakes in the ball pan. I find an oil-based chocolate cake recipe like The Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake works well. The oil in the cake keeps the cake moist during the prolonged baking period.

cut

Step 2: When the cakes are baked and cooled slightly, use a serrated knife to slice off any cake that has risen above the edge of the pan. Keep the blade of the knife flat on the edge of the ball pan to ensure a perfectly even cut. You need at least a small amount of flat surface on top, so that you can turn the cakes out of the pan to cool, round side upwards.

step 3

Step 3: When the cakes have completely cooled, cut an additional slice off the bottom flat side of each one to allow for your filling. To do this you will need a serrated knife with a flat handle that is not too wide. Rest the handle of the knife on your cutting surface and keep it level and flat as you cut an even slice.

wrap

Step 4: Wrap each half of the cake loosely in plastic wrap and place them back in the two halves of the ball pan. Make sure that the top of each cake is level with the top of the pan. Unwrap the top of the plastic wrap so that the cake surface is exposed.

step 4

Step 5: Pipe a dam of chocolate ganache around the edge of each cake, building up layers of ganache until your dam is level with the top of the pan. I use a Wilton #10 tip. Flatten off the top of the ganache with a spatula so that it is perfectly level with the top of the pan.

step 6

Step 6: Leaving the cakes unwrapped, place the pans in the freezer for two minutes, or in the fridge for around five, until the ganache has firmly set.

Fill the space at the top of each cake with your chosen filling. Here I used fresh chopped strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream. Use a large spatula or other straight edge (the back of your serrated knife will probably work) to smooth the buttercream level with the top of the pan. Don’t worry about any mess on the plastic wrap at this point.

step 7

Step 7: Now wrap each cake back up in the excess plastic wrap. I like to add an extra layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep the cake fresh and moist. Place both halves back in the freezer for about an hour until they are very firm, but not completely frozen through.

step 8

Step 8: After an hour, remove the cakes from the freezer and unwrap the top. Hold the plastic wrap and use it to lift the cakes out of the pan. Because you used the edge of the pan as a guide for levelling your filling, you now have two perfect hemispheres of cake and filling!

Step 9: Place a new small piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the buttercream and place a cake circle or similar over that. Flip the cake over so that the rounded surface is uppermost.

step 10

Step 10: Spread a layer of chocolate ganache all over the cake. Try to apply a layer of an even thickness if possible, but you will work on smoothing the shape later so don’t worry too much.

Step 11: Because you are applying ganache to a very cold cake, the chocolate will set fairly quickly. Do a rough smooth with a small offset spatula.

Step 12: As the ganache starts to set and become dull-looking, switch to a piece of acetate or plastic cut from the side of a large soda bottle or milk carton. Bend it in your hands a little as you continue to scrape away excess ganache so that it molds to the contours of the hemisphere.

step 13

Step 13: Use a toothpick to test the thickness of the ganache around the cake. Think of it like using a dipstick to test the oil level in your car’s engine. If you find any much thicker areas of chocolate, scrape a little off with your piece of plastic.

Step 14: When you have smoothed both halves of your sphere you are ready to assemble it. The ganache should have set because of the lower temperature of the cake, and be dry and firm to the touch. If this is not the case, wrap the cake back up in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge until its ready to handle.

I place one half of the cake on the support ring that comes with the ball pan. However, you can rest your cake on a foam pad, or inside a bowl with a rounded bottom to keep it upright and not damage your smooth ganache. Use a fork to fluff up the surface of the buttercream a little on both halves. This will help them to form a bond and stick together. Smooth a very thin layer of soft ganache at the edges of the cake and quickly press the two halves together.

sphere cake

Step 15: There will be a ridge where the two halves of the sphere join. Use your piece of plastic to scrape away the excess ganache to give a smooth finish. The ganache should be strong enough to support the top half of the cake so that the bottom half doesn’t get misshapen and squashed under the weight. Allow the ganache to fully dry out before starting to decorate.

I decorated the soccer cake above with perfectly-proportioned hexagon and pentagon cutters from Not Just Cakes by Annie. Alternatively, you can create a template using the instructions supplied with the Wilton ball pan.

To assemble the cake, I hammered a pre-measured wooden dowel right through the ball, into the cake layer below and into the cake drum beneath.

sphere cake

For this Angry Birds cake I drilled a hole in a wooden base, and glued a pre-measured wooden dowel into the hole. I then covered the board with textured fondant. I piped a blob of royal icing at the base of the dowel, then pushed the decorated cake down onto it. Fondant clouds at the front and back helped add a bit more stability during transportation.

Summer’s almost here and I feel a beach ball cake coming on!

To learn more about cake sculpting, check out Mike McCarey’s online Craftsy class Advanced Cake Sculpting. Mastering a spherical cake opens up all sorts of possibilities – tea pots, princess carriages, pumpkins, globes and planets, and sports balls galore! What will you make?

Comments

  1. Yaneri says:

    Awesome!! Thank you for the tips!!! Always wondered how you make a perfect ball cake!!! Gotta LOVE Crafty for sure!!!!!!!

  2. Catherine says:

    When covering the cake with fondant, did you have to put a layer of icing over the ganache to allow it to stick together or did the chocolate suffice?

    1. Lesley says:

      Just slightly moisten the ganache with a little water and that will be enough to get the fondant to stick straight to the chocolate.

  3. Donna Zell says:

    Wow this is fantastic. We have made a couple of sphere cakes and they are difficult to get perfect. With this tutorial, it will now be so much easier! Lesley and Craftsy, THANK YOU!

  4. Teri says:

    Wow!! This is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing your technique. I have tried to make a few ball shaped cakes and have not been happy with them. This is a great help!

  5. Sarah says:

    Fantastic article! Its so helpful seeing the step by step pictures too. Well done!

  6. Zarlene says:

    thanks so much! its been a while since I did a ball cake, looking forward to it being even better this time!

  7. Cecilia says:

    If not making a chocolate cake, what do you use in place of ganache?

    1. Lesley says:

      I use white chocolate ganache!

  8. Maryam says:

    Thank you oh so very much for this tutorial! Covering a ball cake was a nightmare!

  9. Yolanda says:

    Thank you Lesley once again , for sharing such a great tutorial. Wish you the best!!!

  10. Francesca says:

    Fabulous tutorial (as always) and blog post. Bravo! Fx

  11. Shawna says:

    You are ridiculously brilliant, Lesley!! AWESOME!

  12. Shahin says:

    Hi lesley, thank you so much for this tutorial, and im a big fan of your work. may i ask you where do you get your hexagon cutter from?? for the soccer ball.
    Thank you.

  13. Kathy says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial.

  14. Brittany says:

    Oh man how amazing are you!! I absolutely love and adore your work. You are so talented and creative and your work is impeccable. This tutorial is amazing :)
    I do have one question though?? Do you place a small cake board under the ball before placing it onto another cake and if so do you have to cut the bottom flat to make the board sit? Hope you understand what I’m asking lol :)
    Ad thanks so much for all you share as well, it’s very appreciative :)

    1. Lesley says:

      I mention that at the end of article, Shahin! Thank you for your comment!

  15. Bukky says:

    You are a darln!!!! Tnxs soo much for sharing. It actually gave me issues d first time I did it.

    Sure this is better and straightforward.

  16. Aidbelmar says:

    OMG!what an amazing cake!!!! Just what I was looking for! I was wondering if you have a tutorial on how to make the base that supports the cake, I’m a little worried about that! I want o make a basketball but the support system worries me !
    please help! Thanks

  17. AIDBELMAR says:

    One more question, how did you cover a round cake with fondant??

    Thanks

    1. Lesley says:

      Thank you, AIDBELMAR! For this soccer ball cake I just sliced an bit off the bottom to give a flat surface and then doweled the cake right through the ball to the board. It’s definitely not a fool proof method though!

      Covering the cake in one piece is hard. I really have no advice other than to use very good quality fondant or Liz Marek’s LMF, and take is slowly. Keep gently pulling the pleats out and away from the cake and try and sweep upwards to adhere the fondant to the cake rather than downwards so you’re not stretching it and causing it to tear. It really is the hardest shape to cover, in my opinion and I’m sorry that really all I can say is practice makes perfect.

  18. Jennie says:

    Hi Leslie
    Thanks so much for posting this. I’m about it attempt a basketball cake. Will use styrofoam for the bottom of the cake because its only for 8-10 people. My dilemma is wanting a woodgrain fondant cake board. How do you think I should go about and do this?
    Any help is much appreciated!
    Jennie

    1. Lesley Wright says:

      Good luck, Jennie! That sounds like fun! If you click my name RIIIIIGHT at the top of this tutorial, you’ll see the other posts that I’ve written. One of them is for woodgrain! :-)

  19. Radhika says:

    This is such a fabulous tutorial! Does the sphere remain spherical without the bottom cake getting misshapen? Is it the ganache that keeps it so? And how did you make the adorable little pig in the bubble? Is it gelatine? Thanks for your generosity.
    R

    1. Lesley Wright says:

      I’m so glad you like it, Radhika, thank you! Yes, that ganache keeps the ball from getting squashed. It’s strong stuff, but still easy to cut through with a knife. With a larger cake – maybe 8″ and above – I would use a piece of hemispherical styrofoam to support the bottom and ganache around it. I buy a styro ball and can usually cut four supports of each one, then use the center for carving something at a later date.

      The bubble is actually just a plastic Christmas ornament with bottom cut off to fit around the pig. :-)

  20. Bri says:

    I love this cake! I have a couple questions. What temperature and how long to cook for the Hershey’s cake recipe ball cake? Also, do you have a good ganache recipe? Thank you

    1. Lesley Wright says:

      I baked the Hershey’s recipe at 325° until it’s done. :-) When it smells ready and a cake tester comes out clean, I take it out. You can search my other blog posts (click my name at the top) and you’ll find my ganache recipe. It’s universal though, so any recipe you find will be the same.

  21. Gian says:

    Wow, this tutorial is amazing. Perfect for our next cake order. Hope that someday we get to do this beautiful cakes! I have one question Lesley, How did you cover the angry bird red then black?

    Thanks!!
    Gian

    1. Lesley Wright says:

      Thank you, Gian! The sphere is fully covered with black fondant and then the red tummy of the bird was added later. It’s just a semi-cirle of fondant added on top.

  22. cocoraisin says:

    Thank you for the helpful article. I love the soccer ball cake. I just have a question if you could please help. In order to fill the wilton 6 inch ball pans, did you follow the recipe of The Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake as it is, or did you have to increase the amount, if so, by how much?

    Thank you so much for your help.

    1. Lesley Wright says:

      So glad you like the cake, thank you! The Hershey’s recipe is the perfect amount. The cake bakes up to around 1/2″ of the top (in my oven), which gives just the amount of room to pipe the dam and fill with buttercream.

  23. Karen says:

    Hi Lesley. Thank you for this awesome tutorial! I’m attempting my first soccer ball cake this week and am so grateful for your help! I do have one question regarding doweling the ball cake onto the bottom cake. You said that you just doweled it from above, but I’m wondering how you hide the hole that the dowel leaves behind on top of the soccer ball? Thanks for your time. You are the best!

  24. shooraf says:

    Hi,
    your cake looks so neat and perfect and thank you for the tutorial.
    I wanted to ask you if you know of any good spherical cake tins that are larger than 6″ and would you recommend making a bigger cake or would it not cook through?

    1. Lesley says:

      Thank you! I believe Fat Daddios makes larger ball pans. Yes, they cook fine, but I don’t think I would recommend the method above for anything larger than a 6″. Eventually, the weight of the cake is too much and the ganache will crack. In these cases, I usually buy a half sphere of styrofoam and build the top half of the cake in cake. Or, if you need more actual cake, make a bottom section out of Rice Krispies Treats and build the best of the cake up on that. The RKT will offer you more support.