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If you don't want to pay for an expensive, custom-made cake you can create your own. However, how exactly do you make a pony- or rocket-shaped birthday cake?
Before baking some cake and trying to sculpt it with a knife, see what you have to work with by taking inventory of all of your cake pans (circular, square, rectangular, bundt, etc.).
Next, cut all of the shapes out using pieces of paper and practice fitting them together or cutting them strategically. This way you'll know what fits together before you cut up your cake!
Here's a great birthday cake idea: To make an easy turtle cake, bake 4 cupcakes and use the rest of the cake batter in a 2.5 quart round oven proof bowl to make the turtle's body. Cut 2 cupcakes in half and use the 4 pieces for legs. For the head, take the other two cupcakes and frost them together. Use gumdrops for eyes. Black licorice strips can make the toes, tail, and mouth. Green frosting or green tinted coconut can be used to decorate the round turtle body.