Best cake recipe for spherical cake?
May 14, 2018 11:58 AM   Subscribe

What it says on the tin. Against my better judgement, I’m making a spherical cake. I’ll cut off the bottom so it will be steady, but I’m still afraid it’ll collapse. What type of cake recipe should I be using? Assume my baking ability is highly suspect.
posted by snickerdoodle to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You don't want a spherical cake, you want two half-spheres with a narrow-based cake support sandwiched between them. You won't be able to see it from the outside and the beauty of a cake support is that the support dowel will be holding the entire weight of the top half, not your little tiny cake butt. You'll find plenty of tutorials on youtube. Here's a photo to show you the idea, though.

For recipe you want something firm textured like pound cake that'll stand up to carving.
posted by phunniemee at 12:11 PM on May 14, 2018 [17 favorites]

I would make a tall multi-layer cake, and then carve it into a sphere -- trying to bake something spherical seems doomed. Once you're doing that, I think pretty much any standard layer cake should work okay.

That is, I'd make maybe five 8" layers, probably a little less than 2" thick each, trim the tops until they're flat, stack them with just enough icing/jam between them for good adhesion, and then carve.
posted by LizardBreath at 12:13 PM on May 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

You should be able to buy affordable stainless steel bowls that will be nearly half-spheres; try goodwill or the dollar store. I would make a sling for the base out of strips of fabric or something, because cake obeys gravity. In fact, can you line the baking pan/ bowl with parchment paper and leave it on the part that will be the southern hemisphere?

Please post results, pictures, triumphant or not. I am impress.
posted by theora55 at 12:29 PM on May 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I swear I've seen a globe-shaped cake from How To Cook That, but so far haven't found it (but I have found the BB8 cake recipe). She also has a lot of tutorials for shaped cakes you may want to study; agreed that making a multi-layer cake that you then carve into a sphere would work better than baking the sphere.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:37 PM on May 14, 2018

IKEA has nice stainless steel bowls that would be perfect for baking two half-spheres. They come in different sizes, but I wouldn't go too big. You need the cake to be both firm and light, maybe an angel food cake?
posted by mumimor at 12:40 PM on May 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Baking a sphere in semisphere cake bowls seems at first like it would work, but in fact it's a recipe for raw cake batter in the center or else overcooked cake on the outside. I just spent a few minutes contemplating how to do it in layers within a bowl, but my best solution involved, eventually, half-filling the bowl with plaster so you can make a layer that's not the full depth but retains the shape.

Carving is far easier unless you're making a whole solar system of spherical cakes.

I definitely agree that you'll want some support in the center, as well as some dowels as rebar.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:41 PM on May 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

Use pound cake or something similiarly dense; you don't want light and fluffy for this kind of stuff. I'd get something like this mold, which has supports. You can use icing to stabilize; don't use soft frosting like cream cheese; it needs to be firm to decorate. I make lots of cake. Sample instructions for mold here or more detailed and more options here. IMHO carving is not easier because you're going to need a giant block o' cake to do this, and if you screw it up, it's hard to fix it, and lack of confidence begets mistakes.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 12:47 PM on May 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Bake two bundt cakes. Flip one. Combine. Carve. Frost. You're welcome.
posted by zippy at 1:34 PM on May 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

You can buy a hemisphere cake pan; here are instructions on how to keep it from being raw in the middle. If you happen to have a roundish metal mixing bowl you could use that instead of a unitasker cake pan.

You don't need to have two identical pans, btw--bake one half, unmold the half-ball and then bake the other one.
posted by drlith at 1:50 PM on May 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

don't take advice from anyone who hasn't ACTUALLY SUCCESSFULLY MADE A SPHERICAL CAKE

(source: I am a competent baker, have tried to make spherical cakes using hemispherical pans, it seemed like it would work, it emphatically did not.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:37 PM on May 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

Wilton makes pans for this. You can get one at most craft stores. If you're not a baker, use a cake mix. Do make your own frosting, of course. I have made the ball cake more than once using cake mix.
posted by girlbowler at 7:20 PM on May 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I made my wedding cake from this Wilton Butter Cake recipe. It is sturdy but not heavy, and very tasty. I'm sure it would be great for a shaped cake.
posted by apricot at 8:56 PM on May 14, 2018

This question reminded me of the watermelon cake on the Great British Bake Off, which turns out to not be precisely spherical but might still be of use.
posted by trig at 1:06 AM on May 15, 2018

Another vote for carving traditionally baked cakes instead of half-sphere pans. The batter in a half sphere pan is a lot of weight for the baking powder to lift. Even if you can get the center done, I am afraid the texture may be compromised, especially for delicate cakes. You know the traditional cake pans will succeed because that is what cake batters are formulated for. I would carve with a serrated and fine-bladed bread knife, cool the assembled cake down (maybe even freeze it) to stiffen up the stacks, do a thick crumb-coating to seal all those rough surfaces you created, cool it down again, and do the pretty frosting.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:52 PM on May 15, 2018

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