1981 NBA All-star Games Throw Back Cake

My friend, Lia, asked me to help her design and bake a cake that would fit with a themed ‘1981 NBA All-Star Games Throw Back’ surprise birthday party for her husband and brother-in-law.

View from the top

Finished product – View from the top!

Our final design sketch to scale

Our final design sketch to scale

The boys are big fans of the Portland Trail Blazers, so the font reflects that team’s identifying logo, and the entire cake represents a basketball backboard with their names and stars for all-stars 🙂


This was my first cake using fondant for decoration, and I also used licorice strung on a wire for the rim, and wove the net out of yarn.

Close-up of Reese's basketball and red licorice hoop

Close-up of Reese’s basketball and red licorice hoop

We ran into some complications along the way, for example, we ordered a full sheet from Costco for the main part of the backboard, but they only gave us a half sheet! So Lia and I had to run around to Fred Meyer and pick up another half sheet to make it whole. The two cakes aren’t quite the same height, but oh well; we had to work with what we could get. I baked the three-layer ‘basketball’ portion of the cake, and added a little orange food coloring to the, really yellow, cake to look a bit more basketball-ish 🙂


‘Section cut’ through basketball at the party

We couldn’t find any ready-made boxes big enough, so Lia spent a long time designing and making the beautiful and gigantic box with the blue base and transparent star on top. The whole thing–box with cake inside–was so bulky, awkward and heavy by the time the finished cake was inside of it, I had to ask my neighbor to help me carry it out to my car!

Custom designed and assembled cake box by Lia

Custom designed and assembled cake box by Lia

Let’s take a look at how we got there………………………………..


Costco didn’t give us a full sheet like we were expecting…. so we had to run to Fred Meyer and pick up another half sheet so that we had a full sheet size. Variety in flavors isn’t bad, right??

8-transfer 1

Transferring these half sheets onto the cake box board was challenging

9-transfer success

One down… one to go

10-transfer 2

Second one up…

11-transfer success (barely)

Success with minor damage!


Wax paper edging to protect the final board surface underneath

15-basketball cakes cooling

3 cake layers, waiting in the wings

17-basketball cut-out

Carving room for the basketball

18-basketball cut-out

Two flavors


Round cake homemade filling/frosting, and large sheet cake homemade frosting

20-basketball layer 1

First basketball layer down

21-basketball layer 2

Second basketball layer in place

22-basketball layer 2 frosting

Second layer frosted

23-basketball layer 3

Third layer down

24-basketball layer 3 frosting

Basketball form complete

28-reeses 1

Applying basketball (Reeses) detail

29-reeses 2

31-reeses 4


34-reeses close-up

35-red borders!

First fondant borders on

36-beginning lettering

The big ’30’

37-measuring reeses border spacing

The rest of the custom Blazer-type fondant lettering and finishing touches



40-net creation

Creating the basketball hoop

42-net weaving

Weaving the net

43-net untrimmed

pre-trimmed net

44-net trimmed


39-in the box

In the box, ready to go!