If you have a kiddo who’s obsessed with sports or want to celebrate a big game, this Football Cake is a fun way to celebrate! It’s easy to make—no special pans needed—and is full of chocolate-y goodness!

football cake on white cutting board

Football Cake

My youngest child has been obsessed with footballs, soccer balls, and basketballs for the past two years, so I decided to make him a cake for his second birthday to celebrate that love. It’s now a yearly tradition—we’ve since made it for his third and fourth birthdays—and I just love that this is part of our celebration.

This cake is also a perfect Super Bowl dessert as it’s both simple and fun. And you really don’t need any special cake decorating skills to pull it off.

I love that this chocolate cake is easy to make, is just sweet enough, and stores really well if you want to make it ahead of time.

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Ingredients You Need

To make this recipe you need to have the following ingredients on hand.

ingredients-in-chocolate-cake
  • Flour: You can use whole wheat, all-purpose, or a mixture of the two. I usually use all-purpose flour for light and tender results.
  • Vegetable oil: I typically use canola oil or vegetable oil here, but avocado oil would work, too.
  • Sugar: A little granulated sugar is the sweetener of choice in this cake because it blends in so well and adds moisture.
  • Baking soda: Fresh, active baking soda helps the cake bake through and rise nicely. (This works much better than baking powder, so do be sure to use baking soda.)
  • Cocoa powder: I like SACO or Hershey’s Special Dark for the best chocolate flavor.
  • Salt: A dash of salt helps enhance the rest of the flavors and deepen the chocolate flavor.
  • White vinegar: This works with the other ingredients to deliver the perfect texture you expect in a chocolate cake. Please do not skip this!
  • Vanilla extract: Paired with cocoa powdervanilla extract is an extra flavor note.
  • Quick Chocolate Frosting: Or a frosting of your choice.

TIP: The cake is dairy and egg-free, and there’s not even any butter. You can make it gluten-free by using a gluten-free cup-for-cup flour blend. It’s like a magic cake!

Step-by-Step Instructions to Make the Cake

Here’s a look at how to make this football cake so you know what to expect from the process. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full information.

how to make football cake step by step
  1. Trace your pan onto parchment paper.
  2. Grease the pan and add the parchment paper round.
  3. Stir together the cake ingredients.
  4. Add to the greased pan and bake.
  5. Carefully invert onto a wire rack.
  6. Let cool.

TIP: You can bake the cake up to this point the day before you plan to serve it. Store it, once cooled, tightly wrapped or in an airtight container.

how to frost a football cake step by step

Step-by-Step Instructions to Frost the Football Cake

  1. Cut a strip of cake from the center of the cake. Place the remaining pieces carefully on a serving platter (or cutting board).
  2. Use frosting to secure the pieces together to form the football shape.
  3. Frost with Chocolate Frosting.
  4. Add white football laces with white frosting. (I use a zip top bag as a piping bag.)

TIP: Assemble your cake on the platter or surface on which you plan to serve it to keep things easy.

toddler with football cake and candle

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of pan do you need to make a football cake?

This cake works well in a 9-inch cake pan.

How do you ice a football cake?

You first cover the cake with chocolate frosting. Then, pipe on white frosting to make the laces. I use a plastic zip top bag as an easy piping bag.

Can I make this cake ahead of time?

You can make it up to a day ahead and store it in an airtight container at room temperature. Frost closer to serving if possible. (You can also make the whole thing, with frosting, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours. I would let it sit out at room temperature for an hour before serving if possible to allow the cake to soften a smidge.)

How to Store

You can make it up to a day ahead and store it in an airtight container at room temperature. Frost closer to serving if possible.

You can also make the whole thing, with frosting, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours. I would let it sit out at room temperature for an hour before serving if possible to allow the cake to soften a smidge.

Best Tips for Success

Related Recipe


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football cake on white cutting board

Favorite Football Cake

The only thing to keep in mind when making this is that when you make either frosting, you’ll want to set aside a small amount of it before you add the cocoa powder so you have frosting to make the white laces.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dessert
Calories 238kcal
Servings 8

Ingredients

Football Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (I like SACO or Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a 9-inch cake pan on a piece of parchment paper and trace. Cut out just inside the traced line. Grease the pan very well on the bottom and sides with nonstick spray (I use classic Pam spray) and place the parchment round inside to lie flat.
  • Add the ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk gently to combine. Add the batter to the prepared pan, shaking gently to evenly distribute it.
  • Bake for 22-24 minutes or until the middle is firm to a light touch and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out cleanly. Try not to over bake.
  • Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully run a paring knife around the edges of the cake to loosen the cake if needed. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and flip over to invert the cake onto the rack. Lift off the pan and let the cake completely cool.  
  • Add the yogurt and powdered sugar to a small bowl and stir together. Add to a zip top bag and seal.
  • Prepare the Frosting with all ingredients except the cocoa powder. Transfer ¼ cup white frosting to a zip top bag to make the laces. Add the cocoa powder to the rest of the frosting and beat to combine.
  • Transfer cake to a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to lightly press a line in the center of the cake. Cut about 3/4-inch to the left and right of the cake to remove a strip down the center of the cake. (You can sample this, or use as you like. It’s not needed for the cake.)
  • Place one side of the cake on the platter or plate on which you plan to serve it. Apply chocolate frosting to the center and press in the other side to make the football shape. Cover the cake and sides with the frosting.
  • To add the white laces, cut off one bottom corner of the bag of white frosting and pipe on a curve at both ends and laces up the middle.
  • Serve.

Video

Notes

  • Use a 9-inch cake pan.
  • Use a serrated knife to slice out a center piece.
  • I prefer to use an offset or straight frosting spatula to frost the cake. (A butter knife will work if that’s all you have.)
  • You can make it up to a day ahead and store it in an airtight container at room temperature. Frost closer to serving if possible.
  • You can also make the whole thing, with frosting, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours. I would let it sit out at room temperature for an hour before serving if possible to allow the cake to soften a smidge.
  • Gluten-free: Use cup-for-cup gluten-free flour in place of the all-purpose flour.
  • Use my Quick Chocolate Frosting or Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. (I prefer the cream cheese frosting since it’s a little thicker but both work! You may have a little frosting leftover.)
  • Set aside a small amount of frosting into a zip top bag before adding the cocoa powder so you can make the laces.

Nutrition

Calories: 238kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 212mg, Potassium: 81mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 17g, Calcium: 9mg, Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published February 2021.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe amy, we can celebrate a birthday, holiday, or other special event with this football-themed cake. It’s easy to make and can be made several days in advance, and it can be adapted to be gluten-free. Cheers