Carving a 3D Hippo Cake Design, Block Style


Last week I made a 3-D groom’s cake of two hippos kissing.

Since hippos are relatively sturdy beasts, I figured that I didn’t need to use any kind of special supports, and I’d just carve them using their blocky shapes and physics.


kissing hippos grooms cake design

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Figure out the cake boards.

When I do a carved cake I figure out beforehand where the boards will be, because they often help determine where the carving is going to be.

For the 3-D birthday cake I did recently I used a board to both support the arms on the figure and to help gauge where I needed to taper the cake.

bottom before carving

The bottom of the figure was a square that I needed to carve down to a smaller square at the top.

The top section also had the figure’s arm on it, and I was planning on carving those out of the solid block of cake.

I did the bottom section, and put the board for the top section on top of it to use as a guide. The edge of the board showed me where I needed to taper the bottom block to. I carved the bottom to match the width of the top board.


torso carved

After doing that, I put the top section on the board and carved it down so that the arms sat on the board where the little rounds stuck out.

When I stacked the tiers the arms would stick out slightly over the sides of the bottom section.

For the hippo cake, the board would go in the middle of the two stacked of cakes that would be the hippo bodies.




Stack the cakes.

hippo cake prep

I started by placing the base cakes on the board and stacking them like a normal tiered cake.

I had two 7″ rounds as the base.

I dowelled them and put the board for the next tier.

Since I wasn’t sure how much I was going to carve out, and I was going to insert another piece for the arms, I used a semicircle instead of a full round for the boards.

I also didn’t put the board all the way out to the edge of the cake in case I ended up carving some of the back part off.

stacked cakes with support in between

The next step was to stack the 6″ layer, then put in two plastic boards that would eventually support the arms.

The layers were placed so that the front edge of the layers were all lined up flat toward the center of the two cakes. (The 6″ layers weren’t centered on the 7″ layers below them.)

After that, I added the next layer, but I angled it out so that the two touched each other.

Based on the center of gravity, they would stay where they were and not move.

I also decided that I could have done a bigger layer and carved it out, because I needed to add another piece to the back of the head to give me enough to carve later.

Next was to stack a block for the top of the head. This was going to be carved, so it didn’t have to be a specific shape.



Carve the basic shape.

hippo cake carving

Next, I carved it until it was the general shape of a hippo.

This didn’t take a lot of technical skill because the shapes are pretty basic and blocky…as long as you do it slowly and just take off a little at a time you’ll be fine.

Also, refer to a lot of photos on google images.

Notice that I didn’t use any dowels other than the ones in the lower tier.

Based on the physics of this particular cake, they weren’t needed.

I like to avoid too many dowels so that the person who serves the cake doesn’t have to deal with trying to find a piece that doesn’t have a support going through it. 


Cover with fondant and add details.

hippo cakes

After icing the cake I covered it with fondant, and let it sit for a while.

I added fondant legs, and fondant arms that rested on the plastic board that stretched between the cakes.

I did some of the facial features then decided to let it sit and firm up overnight.

The next morning I came back to find the evil of fondant elephant skin had developed in a few places where I had seamed the fondant while covering the cake.

I fixed that to a certain extent, but honestly, these were hippos, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

Click here for the post showing how I fixed it.

The hippos got a veil and a bow tie.

I thought that I should dress them at first, but when I put the rest of the facial features on they seemed to be done, so I left them in their birthday suits.

hippo grooms cake

Here’s the final cake…Awwww….


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