Children love novelty cakes, particularly three dimensional novelty cakes, and they are easier to make at home than most people think. When it comes to shaped cakes, unless you are a skilled modeler or carver, it is paramount to use a shaped cake mold. Molds are easy to find at any baking or craft store and are generally inexpensive. Once you have the mold, the rest is merely decorating. For football cupcakes, rather than a mold, the magic lies on the use of multi-colored frosting and piping bags.
Acquire a half-oval shaped mold made from either metal or heat-resistant plastic (the label on the mold must state that it can withstand up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit). If you cannot find a football shape mold specifically, look for an egg shape as an alternative.
Mix the cake batter; boxed cakes or home-made recipes both work. Grease the inside of the pan with either butter or cooking spray and coat with flour. Fill the mold halfway with the batter, and bake in a preheated oven for the designated time of your recipe. Baking times will vary depending on the cake ingredients.
Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Invert over a cooling rack and gently tap until the cake is released. Allow the cake to cool on the rack until room temperature, about 45 minutes.
Prepare the frosting. Choose a frosting recipe that is either thick or will coat the cake in a smooth layer, such as a chocolate ganache. Avoid royal icing as it tends to toll off the surface. Buttercream and cream cheese frosting are recommended. Divide the frosting into two bowls at a 1:4 ratio. Leave the smaller portion white and add brown food dye to the larger bowl. Use either liquid, powder or gel dye and mix thoroughly, adding more dye as you go to reach desired consistency.
Frost the cooled cake completely in the brown frosting using a frosting spatula. If you are using a chocolate ganache to smooth-cover the cake, wait for it to cool to room temperature and pour it directly over the center of the cake. Allow the excess to roll through the drying rack.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a rounded tip with the white frosting. Carefully pipe on the laces by first making one long stitch down the middle followed by perpendicular short stitches. Pipe two larger white straps around both ends of the ball about 1/2 to 1 inch away from the end.
Bake and cool your cupcakes. The football cupcakes will be decorated with footballs rather than shaped into one as with the cake. Use any cupcake flavor and recipe you like, making sure to use either green or white cupcake liners. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before continuing.
Prepare either a buttercream or cream cheese frosting and divide it among three bowls in a 3:2:1 ratio. Dye the largest portion green, the second largest brown and the third leave white.
Frost all cupcake tops completely in green. Do not layer the green too thick--a rough opaque layer is all that is needed to represent grass. Fit a pastry bag with a medium size round tip and fill with the brown frosting. Pipe an oval football shape into the center of each green cupcake making the center of the oval rise up higher than the ends. The ball should look like half of a football.
Fit another pastry bag with a medium round tip and fill with white frosting. Pipe a long stitch down the center of each brown football, and make perpendicular stitches across to complete the laces.