How to make a Football shirt cake
To date, I have been asked to make three football shirt cakes and I think it will always be a popular design. Each one has been for a different team and each one has been a new challenge.
So far I have always used a Madera cake (recipe here) for this shape and I bake the cake in a rectangular tin. If you don’t have one tin large enough you can always use two square tins, but this makes it quite tricky when you need to lift the cake onto the board.
The first time I made this design (the Manchester United one) I shaped it so there was a big gap between the sleeve and the body and as I was so inexperienced the icing tore under the arm leaving gaps on both sides. I also didn’t roll the icing out thick enough – It took me a long time to master this trick. Icing should always be around 5mm thick before you even think about lifting it up over a cake. That way there will be plenty of give and it will stretch without tearing much more easily. After three failed attempts I had to patch the holes with more icing which didn’t look great! That’s when I came up with the idea to have a scarf over the cake to disguise any holes, but it has now become a feature. Don’t you love it when a great idea comes out of a huge disaster?
Since that first cake I have always made sure that the arms of the shirt are positioned close to the body so there are no awkward crevices to fill and no torn icing!.
Before I start a football shirt cake I always check out the colours and the logos on the shirt. If they really can’t be easily reproduced with icing I have them printed onto sugar paper with edible ink. Most cake decorating shops will do this for you for a small charge but you can email on line companies too, but that takes a lot longer! The print outs come on a sheet of edible paper and you have to cut out the badge carefully with scissors and then dampen the back. As it’s sugar paper it will become very sticky so it’s easy to position.
You will need:
A covered cake board
A Madeira Cake
Football shirt template cut from paper (see here)
sugarpaste / roll out icing
Letter/ number cutters
A damp sponge
To make the cake
Make a template by cutting a piece of paper to the same size as your cake tin. Shape the shoulders and neck then cut out the sides to reveal the sleeves. Make sure you don’t make the shape too intricate. Keep it simple.
Cut the cake in half through the middle and add the butter-cream and jam with a spatula. I always use seedless raspberry jam(heated up for a minute in the microwave to make it runny). Sandwich the two sides together and make sure that the cake is nice and flat.
Place the template on the cake and cut away the excess with a bread knife. I always put the first layer of icing on the cake before I put it on the cakeboard, that way I make less marks on the board. Do this by smearing a small layer of buttercream over the entire cake. Roll out the shirt coloured icing so that it will cover the length and sides as well as the width and sides of the cake with a little to spare. Lift the icing carefully – supporting it from underneath. When you lift up icing it stretches- a lot!- so the more you support it the better it will look on the cake.
Once you have positioned the icing over the cake use a smoother to smooth all the areas. Use the cusp of your hands to do any corners and edges. Cut away the excess icing and neaten with a flat smoother.
Secure the cake on the cake board with a little royal icing. Keep in mind where you want the scarf or writing to go so there is plenty of space.
Next add the sleeves. I rolled out the black icing, laid it gently over the cake then marked where it needed to be cut and shaped it on a cutting board. That way I wouldn’t mark the white icing or cut into the cake by accident. I used a damp sponge to make the icing stick in place.
Add any sleeve details and badges or logos to the front of the shirt. You don’t have to copy the real shirt exactly. The colour of a shirt is a big giveaway so making it personal with the age as the number on the shirt and the name on the front always seems to go down well.
Cut a narrow strip and create a neck on the shirt.
I cut out the numbers and names from thin icing sugar or floral paste with cutters and let them dry for 1o minutes so that they are easier to handle and don’t loose their shape. If the icing gets stuck inside the cutters rub a little icing sugar inside. If there is a really difficult number/letter I usually cut it twice in one go. That way I can press them both out at the same time with a dry paint brush and only the top shape is damaged and dented, leaving the one on the bottom in perfect shape!
Position the name and age/team number on the front with either a damp sponge or with edible glue
To make the scarf I make the stripes and roll them flat so they stick together. For the tassels cut a small square of icing the same width as the scarf. Use a sharp knife to cut lines in the square from a few mm from the top. Lift up as you cut each strand as this makes the tassels look like they have been ruffled. Position each tassle underneath the end of the scarf.
Use a small amount of royal icing to secure the scarf to the cake.
And there you have it. A football shirt cake.