This do-it-yourself cake adds a lot of excitement to any piano occasion! Are you planning a reception at the end of your students’ recital? Or maybe your own graduation recital? Maybe you are having a special piano party or a special final group lesson? Whatever your piano occasion, here is a cake that looks great, and is inexpensive and easy to make.
Before google existed, I wanted my own piano cake. I came up with a design with white icing for the white keys and KitKat bars for the black keys. My students loved it! I’ve made it time and again, always for enthused little nibblers.
Now that google exists and I’ve seen others’ creations, my little cake doesn’t seem all that amazing.
But let’s be real. I’m not a pastry chef, and likely, neither are you. Sometimes I’ve tried online recipes that looked incredible on my screen. But in my own kitchen, my attempt ended up looking like a wonky sideways-skewed kindergarten version.
Here is a piano cake recipe you’ll actually be able to replicate and yours will look just as good as mine. I promise!
I’m going to share this tried-and-true recipe my mother shared with me from a very old farmer’s cook book she started using in the mid-50s.
If you are not gluten-free, use regular flour. I’m gluten-free, so I’ve updated the recipe with a flour mixture I developed about a year ago. It is soooooo good! It is the first time my gluten-free baking has tasted better than my old glutenous baking did (I use this ratio for all of my baking now).
Delicate 2-egg cake
In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients:
- 2 cups flour, sifted – or – (Gluten-free: 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour, 1/2 cup almond flour, 1/2 cup coconut flour, 1/2 cup arrowroot flour, 3/4 tsp xanthan gum)
- 3 tsp Magic Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
In a mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients:
- 2/3 cup of butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar, gradually blend in
- 2 eggs, beat in one at a time
In a liquid measuring cup, combine:
- 3/4 cup milk (generous), (Cow’s, rice or coconut)
- 1 tsp vanilla
To combine all ingredients:
In mixing bowl, add flour and milk mixtures alternately to butter/sugar mixture, 3 additions each, adding milk first and flour last.
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
Turn batter into cake pan(s), greased with butter and dusted with flour (for easy release).
For the piano cake, use an 11 x 7 inch brownie pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a pin inserted in the centre comes out clean.
This recipe can also be baked in other pans. For two round birthday cake pans, bake for about 20 minutes, or until a pin inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for about five minutes and then on a rack.
Vanilla butter icing
- 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
- pinch salt
- 2 cups sifted icing sugar (I never sift)
- 1/8 cup cream (less than this at first)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
Start with those measurements. Add icing sugar or cream in small amounts until you achieve the consistency you want.
Assembling the piano cake
Once the cake has fully cooled, turn it upside-down. The width of the brownie pan makes it nearly the exact measurement of the white keys of the piano. Ice it with the vanilla butter icing. Smooth the surface by dipping a butter knife in milk and sliding it slowly over the icing. Cut the keys in by sliding the edge of the same knife through the icing.
Carefully break apart KitKat bars (see note below) and place in groups of two and three. These are nearly the exact measurement of black piano keys.
Serve and enjoy! Take photos!
P.S. Notes on gluten-free baking
Baking gluten-free isn’t just about using “gluten-free” ingredients, it’s about avoiding contamination in the kitchen, as well. If you regularly use wheat flour and there is gluten in your kitchen, here are some steps to keep in mind when baking for others who are sensitive:
- Wash all of your cooking utensils very well with a clean cloth.
- Glass baking pans are best. Metal pans are porous and may contaminate your recipe with gluten, even when they appear to be clean.
- Please do not use any wooden surface or wooden spoon that has ever come in contact with gluten.
- It is best to use ingredients out of newly-opened containers (be especially careful of butter).
- Let sensitive people know that the cake is made in a kitchen that also contains gluten, so they can decide.
Unfortunately, KitKat bars are not gluten-free, so I don’t eat the cake once these are put on. I still haven’t found a suitable substitute and my vanity wins in this one area. The KitKat bars just look so good. Most people aren’t as sensitive to gluten as I am, so it’s okay for them to remove the keys and give them to someone else to eat, but still eat the cake. If you are serving the cake to a mixed crowd, why not cut it into two sections, making one key section completely GF (no KitKat bars), and the other section with KitKat bars? Does anyone have ideas on what could be used for the black keys instead of KitKat bars?
Bonus: Cover reveal:
Bonus for my readers: Here is the reveal of the cover of my newest collection of piano solos. I’m so excited about this new book! It’s full of toe-tapping Early Elementary piano solos with optional teacher duets. In solo form, perfect for festival performances, in duet form, perfect for recitals! Check out Rock the Boat here!
My cover artist is 17-year-old Laura Meisner, a talented 11th-grader. Many thanks to two teacher groups for honorariums that helped fund the design. They are the Palmerston Canada Music Week Festival and the NSRMTA Valley Chapter.
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I appreciate shares, comments and likes. Happy teaching!