String Instrument Cake

Today's cake tutorial is a special cake I just made for my mom's birthday! Long time readers may recall I made special 1950's themed cupcakes for her surprise 60th party last year, including a cupcake stand made from real records. This year we had a smaller dinner at home with friends and family. Her birthday isn't actually until later this week, but my husband and I were able to come in for Memorial Day weekend, so it was a great time to celebrate. We had fun getting together and spending time celebrating my special mom! She is constantly doing things for others and well deserving of a special evening just for her.

My mom started playing a musical instrument called the dulcimer about 6 years ago. It's a string instrument with origins in the Appalachian area. She loves her dulcimer group she performs with, so I really wanted to make a special dulcimer themed cake. I usually make round cakes, but I decided to try my first carved cake. My mom was so surprised, and absolutely loved the cake! I know not everyone knows what a dulcimer is, but I wanted to share this tutorial as it would be similar to making a violin or acoustic guitar cake. The main elements (fret board, tuning pegs, strings, body of instruments) or very similar.

Here are the steps I used to create this musical cake:

A day before making the cake I started working on the fret board for the dulcimer. This part needs to dry for an hour, or so. It just makes less work the day of the cake if you make it in advance.
  • I printed out a dulcimer picture the size I needed for the cake, I wanted to make sure the fret board was the correct size
  • I started the fret board by dyeing some fondant a dark brown color
  • Roll the fondant out pretty thin, less than 1/16 inch
  •  Roll out thin ropes of white fondant to represent the frets
  •  Using a print-out as a guide, attach the frets at the positions for the string instrument (attach using a small amount of water on the fret board at the location of the fret

Once it was finished, I let the fret board dry overnight. I also baked the cake in advance, as I was going to have a busy day the day of the dinner. I needed a large cake, so I baked an 11x15 chocolate cake.

Here's how I finished the cake:
  • Place the printout on the cake (mine was a little larger than the cake, but I was going to cut out the head from the excess cake)
  •  Carefully cut out the shape of the cake using a sharp knife
  •  Very carefully lift up the cake and place on your cake board (I used some long spatulas and moved it slowly
  • Cut out any remaining pieces to finish the shape (I still needed to cut out the head and place it on
  • Fix one recipe of buttercream (just enough to cover the cake) and tint it brown
  • Pipe on icing using an icing tip (or ice on with a spatula)
  • Use a spatula to smooth out icing and cover any cake exposed
  • Smooth out icing even more using a non-design paper towel (such as Viva) and a fondant smoother
  •  Place the fret board on the cake
  • Add any other fondant details to the top of the cake (I realized I wanted the fret board to extend to the head of the dulcimer, so I added some more brown fondant to that section)
  • Shape white fondant into a tuning peg shape with a long thin cylinder attached to stick into the cake
  •  Stick the tuning pegs into the cake
  • For the strings, I used un-waxed, plain dental floss. After trying many different ways, I ended up running the floss completely across the cake and just taping it to the board on either end, just off the cake.
  • I finished off the cake board by adding scraps of sheet music and some cute ribbon. I just used tape (not glue) to attach these since the cake was already on the board.

Hope you've enjoyed this tutorial. The cake was a lot of fun to make, and a big hit with my friends and family! Don't forget to come back tomorrow and link up to my Sweet Tooth Tuesdays party! I can't wait to see what recipes, crafts, and projects are linked up this week.

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