I bought a Build-a-bear cake pan from Williams-Sonoma for Christmas. This was meant as a Christmas present for my wife, however because I do the baking it's really the CAKES that are the present, and thus we tried making one of these cakes over the weekend to give it a trial run before Christmas.
After exchanging the pan, I followed the recipe on the back of the box. The box comes with a recipe for a bundt cake that is quite easy to make. The cake tasted great, although you can use any recipe you want, as long as the cake is dense enough to stand up on its own. My only complaint is that the recipe is printed on the box, when it should be a paper insert instead. Now I have to transcribe it. I've noticed this defect with every Williams-Sonoma cake pan. I guess it saves on packaging, but please, these pans aren't cheap. At least give us a sheet of paper!
Assembling the 3-D bear isn't hard at all. After the cake has finished baking, you cool it for a few minutes in the pan, remove it from the pan, cool it some more, then put it back in the pan. This process takes a few hours in total. When the cake is fully cooled, you put it back in the pan so that you can cut off the extra that rises above the pan. Then you spread icing on half, and put the other half on top, then pop it into the fridge so that the icing can set. We had a slight problem: the cake didn't come cleanly out of the pan the second time, so one half of the bear was decapitated. Luckily we were able to repair it with some icing and skewers; in the end the damage wasn't noticeable.
Decorating the finished cake is the hard part. I had a lot of difficulty applying the glaze and the brown sugar which simulates the fur. The Williams-Sonoma website has a how-to video which shows a woman applying the "fur". I notice that her cake doesn't look as good as the one on the box (though it is far better looking than mine). In the end the fur was so difficult that I think my next cake will just use a glaze or icing fur. My "furry" bear appears to have some kind of odd patchy disease. Maybe next time I'll try to make some fondant to clothe the bear; at least then you don't need to put as much fur on.
Despite the bear's poor appearance, it was a lot of fun to make and delicious to eat. Hopefully in a couple weeks I'll have perfected my technique.
The man from Williams-Sonoma eventually did mail me the Santa Template. Stay tuned; next Christmas I'll try it out. Also, I eventually did make a new bear. It turned out better.