Final Four Basketball Cake

By: Michelle Buffardi

They call it The Big Dance. I call it A Good Reason to Make Cake. The Elite Eight has been narrowed down to the Final Four, but there's only one surefire winner in this game -- a team-neutral basket ball cake. Whether you're rooting for one of the Final Four contenders, or your bracket got busted long ago, you'll need dessert.

To make the best basketball cake ever, start with your favorite cake recipe -- Smitten Kitchen's Best Birthday Cake is a good one. You can use both layers, or just one like I did (I stuck the second layer in the freezer for another time). The key to making a basketball cake, besides the cake, is knowing what the lines on a basketball look like. That's actually the hardest part.

This should help:

You'll need, in addition to a fabulous cake, some orange and some brown candies. M&Ms are good -- you can order them by color or pick out the orange and brown ones, but since there are more colors, there are less oranges and browns per bag. Reeses Pieces work the best for a basketball cake because you only have to pick out (and eat) the yellow ones.

So get yourself some Reeses Pieces and eat the yellows. Then make your cake and let it cool completely. You want to frost the cake with a very thin layer of orange frosting; just a crumb coat -- you need something to stick the candies to. Once the cake is frosted, draw the lines on with a butter knife. If you make a mistake, blend in the frosting and start again. Stick the brown candies along the lines you've drawn in the frosting. Then fill in the rest with orange candies. If the frosting dries too much, dab a bit on the candy pieces before sticking.

That's it. That's all you need to do to make a super-cute basket ball cake.

Of course, if you're feeling really ambitious, you can try this 3-D cake from Eat Cake Be Merry:

Any predictions on who'll win?

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