I love baking and sharing my journey of becoming a full-fledged, real-deal cake decorator.
A Baking Challenge
One day, I was approached by someone who wanted a panda bear cake for his little girl's birthday. As usual, I accepted the task and did what I always do: research. I looked through many different cake sites for ideas and inspiration.
One cake that I saw repeatedly, in several different forms, was the 3D bear cake. So off I went to Michael's, 50% coupon in hand, to purchase a Wilton bear pan. This cake can be made with a 3D cake pan or cut freehand. The latter was out of the question for me, so the bear cake pan was the way to go. While making a test cake, I learned what to do and what not to do. I figured I would help spare someone else the headache I had as I experimented with this medium.
How to Make a 3D Bear Cake
- Buy a pan: I used the Wilton Stand-Up Cuddly Bear pan, which can be purchased at hobby shops like Michael's, AC Moore and Hobby Lobby. If you have a second-hand store in your area, check them out. Don't be afraid to peruse second-hand stores, you may be surprised what precious gems you may uncover. If you do purchase a used pan, you may find out you do not have the heating core or clips. Don't fret! This cake can be made without the core and giant paper clips can be used to hold the pans together.
- Prepare the pan: Prepare the pans as you would for any other cake. I use shortening and a dusting of flour. Be sure you grease the inside and outside of the heating core thoroughly, or your cake will surely stick. Clip both sides of the pan together and place core in middle.
- Make the cake batter: This cake requires a dense cake recipe in order to stand properly. Wilton recommends you use a box cake mix and pound cake mix together. I found that combination quite boring, so I used 10 cups of my doctored cake recipe. If you have a delicious pound cake recipe that will do also. Pour batter into cake pan and heating core. My test cake didn't have paws because I failed to use enough batter.
- Bake the cake: Place pan on foil-lined rack on a cookie sheet. Your rack may need to be lowered to the bottom placement prior to preheating since this is a tall cake pan. Cook cake for approximately 55 minutes. Test doneness by sticking a skewer into heating core. If the skewer comes out clean, it's done!
- Cool the cake: This step is very important! Stand the cake up to cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Then loosen clips and remove half of the bear pan. Let cool for an additional 15 minutes. Switch sides and repeat.
- Ice the cake: I have found it beneficial to use a crusting buttercream. I make my own icing, but any decorator's icing will do. After applying a crumb coat, refrigerate for about fifteen minutes. The icing is ready when it doesn't stick to your hands when you touch it. I usually do these steps the day before actually decorating the cake.
- Decorate the cake: Be creative! My initial cakes were done with the ease of a star tip. For a more realistic fur effect, you may want to try a grass tip. Take your time. It may take a while to completely cover the cake, but if you do it in sections you will have a cleaner look. I use fondant for the eyes, nose and fondant flowers.
Well, I hope these tips will help you produce a lovely bear cake. Take your time and be creative. Your options are limitless. Whoever receives this cake will feel so special.