Football Cake

Not taking this chocolate-covered cake to the tailgate is a giant fumble.

football cake
Photo: Photgrapher: Frederick Hardy II, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Kay Clarke
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs

Football season will always be a close second to the holidays for Southern hostesses. This tailgate season, our Test Kitchen pros racked their brains to come up with Southern Living Football Cake that would impress any crowd. We think they outdid themselves, because this football cake is too darling for words. You probably have most of the ingredients for this cake already sitting in your pantry, and if not, they're easily available in any grocery store's baking aisle. The rich, tender cake is smothered in a decadent chocolate frosting for a chocolate (and football) lover's dream. There's no need to be intimidated by this football-shaped cake; it comes together in just a few easy steps. When mixing the batter, be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure everything is incorporated well. When it comes time to decorate your cake, you can use a 2-inch cardboard stencil to cut out the middle section. A zip-lock bag with one of the corners cut off is a great makeshift piping bag if you don't have one on hand. Add a bit of green food coloring to coconut flakes to imitate the turf fields for a party-worthy presentation. Serve this football cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you're sure to be the tailgate hostess with the mostess this season.



  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate baking bar, chopped

  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) salted butter, softened

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 ¼ cups (about 4 ¾ ounces) cake flour, bleached (such as Swans Down), sifted

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder

  • ¾ cup whole buttermilk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate baking bar, chopped

  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate bar, chopped

  • ½ cup (4 ounces) salted butter, softened

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

  • 2 tablespoons whole milk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • ½ cup creamy vanilla frosting (such as Duncan Hines Creamy Vanilla Frosting) 


  1. Prepare the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Microwave chocolate in a small microwaveable bowl at MEDIUM (50%) power for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, stirring at 30 second intervals until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

  2. Beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl occasionally. Add egg, and beat until just combined. Add melted chocolate, and beat until combined.

  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; add to chocolate mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix at low speed after each addition until just blended. Stir in vanilla.

  4. Pour batter into 1 coated (with baking spray) 9-inch round cakepan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes; invert cake onto a wire rack, and remove from pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

  5. Prepare the Buttercream: Microwave chopped unsweetened chocolate and chopped semisweet chocolate in a small microwaveable bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, stirring at 30-second intervals until melted and smooth. Cool for 10 minutes.

  6. Beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed in a medium bowl until creamy. Add melted chocolate; beat until blended. Add powdered sugar, cocoa, milk, and vanilla; beat on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, scraping down bottom and sides of bowl occasionally.

  7. To assemble cake, cut a 2-inch-wide strip from center of cake using a serrated knife; remove strip; set aside. Push the 2 sides of cake together to form a football shape.

  8. Frost top and sides of football cake with Chocolate Buttercream. Place vanilla frosting in a piping bag fitted with a small round tip or into a zip-lock plastic bag with a small hole cut in the corner and pipe lines and laces on the cake. Cut reserved strip of cake into 4 equal pieces and frost tops with remaining buttercream.

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