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.
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.
• Quarter sheet cake, 4” high, frozen or chilled
• 3 quarter sheet cake cardboards
• White electrical tape, 3/4″ wide (19 mm)
• Offset serrated knife
• Smooth buttercream to frost
• 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
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.
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.
4. Carve away a shelf for a keyboard.
5. Crumb coat the cake with smooth buttercream 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.
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 dowel.
9. Screw the dowel legs through the base of the stand no less than 1” from each corner.
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.
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.
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. Also, here is a link for how to make that yummy-looking dripping chocolate effect.
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.
Please share photos of your own piano cake creations below in the comment section!
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Sample the books
Cake Decorating with Modeling Chocolate
The Ultimate Modeling Chocolate Resource Guide