Kai's Soccer Ball Birthday Cake

Its time for another cake! I still owe this blog one entry on a baby shower cake we did in September. I don't have any pictures of it in part because the shower was at 4pm on the day that Michigan played Notre Dame at 3:30pm. So I was mainly concerned with getting the cake out of the house so I could watch football. Pictures were taken, but I don't have them yet.

This cake was for Kyle and Tricia's son Kai, who turned 1 year old on Saturday. The cake seemed to take us a long time, but that was mostly because it takes a long time to cook a 12" x 18" cake, it takes almost equally as long for the cake to cool and it takes a lot of space to make all of that possible (which means lots of stopping to clear space and clean). Other than that there isn't a whole lot of setup that you need to know. Enjoy the photos:

Here are the two halves of the soccer ball. Rice Krispy Treats were the base and a funfetti cake on the top. Both halves were formed using a soccer ball cake by Wilton.
We used buttercream to stick the two halves together, then draped it in white fondant.
Once the fondant was down Lauren lightly pressed the lines for the paneling and then used her stitching tool to complete the look.This was our original idea for the cake, but there was no good way to cover the 1 in a solid color. Fondant would have left ugly seams all over the place and nothing else would have been as smooth as fondant. I am sure we could have figured something out eventually, but we ended up abandoning the #1 in favor of a Happy Birthday placard.

The base cake is three layers. The first and third were a white buttermilk cake and the middle layer was a pumpkin spice cake. The layers were filled with a cream cheese frosting and the exterior was covered in buttercream. Everything was made from scratch, except for the half a soccer ball made from Funfetti.
A closeup of the finished soccer ball. Lauren did an awesome job making the Puma logo out of black fondant. The K is for Kai. It does not indicate that the cake is kosher.

The birthday boy and his cake.

From left to right: Kyle, Tricia, Lauren and I posing with the cake. You might notice the section of mostly missing cake to the right of the soccer ball. That plus most of the unseen back cake half of the soccer ball managed to feed everyone at the party. Lauren and I kind of eyeballed how much cake we needed. 13 x 9 seemed small, especially given the size of the soccer ball. So we got a 12" x 18" pan, but when we baked the first layer it seemed really thin. So we decided three layers would be better than two. It was only time constraints that stopped it from being 4 layers. Of course when we stacked it up the cake ended up being enormous. A catering website I looked up after the fact informed us that a 2 layer 12" x 18"cake serves 54 dessert sized portions. So I'm thinking this cake served roughly 81 from the bottom cake alone, plus another 10 or so out of the soccer ball.

Tricia, let me know how many new best friends you make from being the cake fairy this week.

Chicken, Pesto & Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza

This recipe ought to look familiar. Its essentially the same as the Margherita Pizza, with the obvious changes with the toppings and the use of bread flour instead of all purpose flour. The flour change wasn't special to this pizza, I just happened to be out of flour and decided I'd give the bread flour a shot since its higher gluten content is supposed to create a chewier crust.

Chicken, Pesto, Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza:

  • 1/4 cup pesto + 1 clove minced garlic (or to taste)
  • 1-2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 lb diced, cooked chicken
  • 1 pkg sun-dried tomatoes
  • Shredded parmesan (optional)
  • Feta cheese crumbles(optional)
You'll want to get the toppings ready before the dough, or at the very least while you're making the dough. So before you do anything else, do this:
  • Preheat the oven with your pizza stone/baking sheet inside to 500 degrees.
  • Cook your chicken. I typically dice it raw, marinate it in Italian dressing for 5 mins then saute it until cooked through (5 mins). If not that I'll use 1/4 - 1/2 cup chicken broth and poach the diced chicken and season it will salt & pepper. Either way make sure to strain or pat your chicken dry with paper towel before putting it on your pizza.
Thin Crust Pizza Dough:
  • .25 oz. pkt. active dry yeast
  • 1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm (105-115 degrees) water, temperature measured with a thermometer
  • 1 3/4 cups bread flour (AP works too, but bread flour tastes better)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Dissolve yeast and sugar in water; let the yeast sit for 5-10 minutes or until frothy. Combine flour and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer (with the dough hook attachment). Pour yeast mixture into the flour mixture and turn the mixer on medium speed until your dough ball forms (2-3 minutes).

At this point you can either let the dough rise for 1-2 hours for a normal pizza crust or you can use it immediately for a thin crust pizza.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 2 minutes. Stretch or roll your dough into a 12" or 14" circle on a flour, parchment or corn meal covered surface. Brush the top surface of the dough with olive oil.

Remove your preheated pizza stone or baking sheet from the oven.Transfer your dough to the baking sheet/pizza stone, and quickly spread your pesto. Add your 1-2 cups of mozzarella cheese and top with the chicken and sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle feta and/or parmesan cheese (optional).
  • Bake at 500 for 8-10 minutes. Let cool 2-5 minutes. Enjoy.
This recipe (plus a little extra mozzarella) is enough to make two 12" pizzas. We will typically make both pizzas, eat one and save the other for lunch or leftovers.

While we were eating Lauren said "I could eat pizza 3-4 times a week if we made it like this and mixed up the toppings". Do you know how long I've been waiting to hear something like that? Right now we might eat pizza once a week and thats typically because we've got something going on after work and don't get a chance to think about dinner until after 8pm, at which point neither one of us wants to cook for 30 minutes or an hour.