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Remember when birthday cakes were simple round cakes with white or chocolate icing? Well, you can still get a traditional cake, but today's birthday cakes come in many more shapes and sizes. In fact, there are birthday cake designs for almost any theme, no matter how obscure it is.
If you are making the cake yourself, you may want to look for special birthday cake pans. Barney the purple dinosaur, Barbie and even horseshoes are a few of the options available. Simply buy a cake mix in the birthday boy or girl's favorite flavor and mix it up according to the directions on the box. Make sure the pan is nice and clean, grease it and pour in the mix. After it cooks, let it cool and carefully remove it from the pan. Ice it with different colors of icing to make it look more realistic and you have a cake in the shape of the character or object.
For people who can't boil water, there's another option. Look for a themed cake topper and put it on a standard sheet cake or round cake from the bakery. Toppers come in an amazing variety of themes, from Spiderman to Dora the Explorer. They are a nice option, since these birthday cake designs can be keepsakes of the special day long after a character shaped cake has been eaten.