How to Make a Piano Cake

Piano Cake Tutorial Wicked Goodies

The technique for making a chocolate monarch butterfly is in the book, Hello, Cupcake!

I’ve landed a decent system for executing 3D grand piano cakes that is easy and worth sharing so here it is. Note that the legs of this piano cake are not edible; they are made of wood. This particular design involves elevating the cake on a stand that can easily be
built out of a few basic items plus dowels. The stand goes a long way towards making the cake look like a real piano and it is not that hard to make. The use of a drill is required but otherwise the steps are fairly simple and worth the effort.

Flat Sheetcake by Wicked Goodies

Begin with a quarter sheet cake that is 4” deep. I baked and assembled this particular cake in a 3” deep Fat Daddio’s quarter sheet pan. I used the build-in-pan method, froze the cake, then depanned it.  Note how square and neat the cake came out using that technique.

This piano cake serves approximately 20 people.

White Electrical Tape by Wicked Goodies

Items Needed
• Quarter sheet cake, 4” high, frozen or chilled
• 3 quarter sheet cake cardboards
White electrical tape, 3/4″ wide (19 mm)
Offset serrated knife
Buttercream to frost (I use American buttercream)
Small offset spatula
Bench scraper
• 4 wooden dowels, 1/2″ diameter (13 mm)
• Four 1.5” long flat head wood screws
• Drill with narrow drill bit
• White and black modeling chocolate 
Melted chocolate for piping decorations and inscription

How to Carve a Piano Cake by Wicked Goodies

This piano cake template has the same proportions as a quarter sheet cake. It can be printed out and used as a guide to shape the stand and carve the cake. The yellow portion represents the intended shape of the cake whereas the blue & red portions get cut away.

1. Trim (I use a box cutter plus scissors for this but a serrated knife will do) all three quarter sheet cake cardboards  into the shape of the above yellow piano base template. Make sure they are identical. Set two of the templates aside for later.

2. Using the third cardboard base template as a guide, carve the blue and red sections of the quarter sheet cake away. Use a bench scraper to make the clean vertical cuts required to remove blue section. Use an offset serrated knife  to carve the rounded red sections.

Sheetcake carved into a piano by Wicked Goodies

3. Set the cake atop the same cardboard base template that was used as a guide. That cardboard will now serve as the cake’s working platform.

Frosted Cake That Looks Like a Piano

4. Carve away a shelf for a keyboard.

5. Crumb coat the cake then chill it. I like to work on top of an inverted pizza pan at this stage, applying buttercream with a small offset spatula then smoothing and shaping it with the blade of a bench scraper.

6. Finish coating the cake then chill it.

Base for a Piano Cake by Wicked Goodies

Here, I re-purposed cake cardboard that was once used to decorated a cake (hence the buttery stain) + cake dowels

7. To build the stand, first sandwich together the two remaining template pieces and reinforce the edges with white electrical tape.

8. Make sure the 5” wooden dowels are all the exact same length. Drill a small 1” hole into the end of each one.

9. Screw the dowel legs through the base of the stand no less than 1” from each corner.

 Base for a Piano Cake Underside by Wicked Goodies

10. Test the stability of the cake on the stand before proceeding. It might be a little wobbly but the stand, if constructed well, should hold. The platform of heavier cakes (half sheet size or larger) should be made from wood, not cardboard.

Modeling Chocolate Piano Keys by Wicked Goodies

11. Measure the length and depth of the space allotted for the piano keys. Roll out a ¼” thick strip of white modeling chocolate and trim it to that size.

12. Using a flat sculpted implement, press evenly spaced notches into the length of the strip to give the impression of ivory keys. At this stage, I’ve found that not attempting to recreate the actual number of keys (88) onto a piano is both easier and looks better, hence the abbreviated keyboard.

13. Roll out a ¼” strip of black or dark modeling chocolate that is half the width and length of the white keyboard. Cut small strips to create black keys. Arrange them on top of and between the white keys as per a standard piano keyboard (3, space, 2, space, 3, space, 2, space and so on).

14. Decorate the cake as desired.

Piano Cake by Wicked Goodies

The technique for making a chocolate monarch butterfly is in the book, Hello, Cupcake!

The above piano cake was served to celebrate the birthday of a music lover. The lyrics piped onto the top of the cake are from her favorite Alicia Keys song, Butterflyz. Follow this link to read up on my chocolate cake-writing tips.

Grand Piano Cake Design by Wicked Goodies

Above is a fancier grand piano cake from my portfolio. This one was served at the wedding of a professional pianist. It was a half sheet size, had a wood platform, and was a trickier 3D shape due to the arms on either side of the keyboard. I did the piping scroll work with white chocolate then gilded it with gold luster dust. It is otherwise wrapped and decorated in modeling chocolate.

This piano cake tutorial was brought to you by:

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Comments

How to Make a Piano Cake — 19 Comments

  1. thanks so much for this fabulous tutorial. I’ve been asked to make a piano cake, and was wondering if you have any tips on transporting this guy to it’s new home. I don’t own a minivan and usually put my cakes in the trunk or hatchback. Thanks!

    • For this cake, I would wait to add the stand until you reach your destination. A nice clean empty trunk of a car works great for transporting a cake if you can put the backseat down to ventilate because that keeps the sun out but allows AC in. I use something called contact grip liner that is normally for lining shelves to put under the cake to help it from sliding around. That works quite well. And I give the cake at least 5 hours in the fridge before leaving so that it is well-chilled for the ride.

  2. So glad to have come across your pages! I love that you have made your knowledge available to the world free of charge!!!

    I have made several cakes in the past without knowing this filling method and am flabbergasted at how awesome that method seems to work! I can’t wait to try this the next time I make a cake.. although I think I’d decrease the thickness of filling between to the cake layers..
    Love the piano cake as well. I may make a cake similar to this for a 90th birthday in the near future.

    I know I’ll be back to check out all of your awesome tricks of the trade.

    Thank you so much!!

  3. Is there a reason you freeze the cake. Also for the piano cake (the one with the arms), did you cut a shelf and then add the arms. How did you do it. Thanks

    • It’s easier to make carved cake shapes like this when they are very cold, like semi-frozen. It helps the cake hold together. It also makes it easier to frost the contours and angles smoothly, because frosting firms up when cold.

      To make the piano version with the arms, I first carve out the shape based on the template then cut away just a portion for the keyboard, leaving two arms on each end. To cut directly into the cake without going through the sides, I use the blade of a bench scraper or spackling knife and push it through the cake. It’s important that the cake is quite cold when doing this and that you avoid cutting sideways through a layer of filling.

  4. Hi there, I have just been asked by a friend to make a piano cake for her daughter’s 21st. I went searching and found your amazing pages!!! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and talent with us all, you are truly generous and I am really grateful. The board is assembled and the cake is in the freezer. Can’t wait to put it all together :)
    Thanks again!
    Alex

  5. I just ran across your website and I am so amazed! You are so talented and I will be back often! Your tutorials are so easy to understand, and I just have to say thank you for sharing your expertise!!!!

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