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If your kid wants a birthday cake with a special theme and you're up for designing your own, don't forget about using stainless steel bowls to bake a cake in. This will get you a nice rounded cake, perfect for turtles, lady bugs, and other round animals. Use some of the batter to make cupcakes in addition to the large round cake. Use the cupcakes for heads and feet, depending on the animal you're trying to create. You'll have to adjust the baking time, of course.
Deeper cakes are going to take a bit longer to cook thoroughly. Stick a toothpick down into the center of the cake and pull it out when you think the cake is done. If it comes out clean, it's done. If it comes out with some gooey cake batter, put the cake back in the oven for a bit and keep an eye on it.