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4 unusual birthday cake ideas you can actually make for your kids

If you’re looking for a crazy birthday cake that is outside the box, making one isn’t as difficult as you think. You don’t necessarily have to be a cooking school graduate or an alumnus of The Great British Baking Show to craft one. There isn’t a secret to making unusual birthday cakes. It’s actually not as difficult as you think, and it all starts with an idea and a pan.

A simple way to make a unique birthday cake from the usual circle or sheet cake is to head online and see if there’s a pan for that. A decorative cake pan helps you bake a cake in the desired shape from a heart to a train to a dinosaur and beyond. There’s even a pan to make a sunflower cake. So, let’s get baking.

young girl decorating a cake in her kitchen
Ermdaev Alexander/Shutterstock

Boxed or scratch?

The first decision you need to make is if you want to go boxed or scratch when making your cake. Boxed is easier and a time-saver, but if you want to make a cake from scratch, here is a simple yellow or chocolate cake recipe:

Ingredients for yellow cake

  •  3 cups of cake flour (all-purpose is fine, too)
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup milk

Ingredients for chocolate cake

  • 6 1/2 tablespoons of cake flour (all-purpose is fine, too)
  • 6 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Grease and flour 4-inch or 6-inch cake pans. (You will have enough batter for more than one 4-inch cake. You can also use the extra batter for cupcakes).
  • Mix flour and baking soda together in a large bowl.
  • Combine softened butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Then, add in eggs and vanilla.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixer.
  • Add milk into the mixer.
  • Blend until combined.
  • Pour into pans.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool on a wire rack before removing it from baking dishes.
  • Apply icing when completely cooled.

Decorative cake pans may require more batter because of their size. If so, simply double the recipe ingredients.

mom decorating cake with sprinkles
New Africa/Shutterstock

Outside-the-box birthday cake ideas

Sunflower cake

Nothing says sunshine more than a sunflower cake. Mix up your batter and pour into a sunflower cake pan. Once the cake has cooled completely, remove it from the pan and decorate. All you need is yellow and chocolate icing along with a package of Oreos or chocolate chips. Follow these steps:

  • Apply chocolate icing to the center of the sunflower cake.
  • Apply the yellow icing to all of the petals.
  • Crunch up enough Oreos to sprinkle on the flower’s center to add a decorative touch. If you prefer, sprinkle chocolate chips instead.
  • Place in refrigerator to allow icing to harden.

Oreo ice cream cake

If you like ice cream cake and Oreos, this is a DIY cake anyone can make:


  • 1 gallon of vanilla ice cream (or flavor of choice)
  • Premade Oreo crust (you can find it in the baking aisle of your local supermarket)
  • Hershey’s chocolate syrup
  • Package of Oreos


  • Fill the premade Oreo pie crust with vanilla ice cream almost to the top (allow the ice cream to soften a bit before spooning into the crust).
  • Make a layer of icing using the chocolate syrup.
  • Crunch up a package of Oreo cookies.
  • Sprinkle the cookies over the layer of chocolate syrup to make a crunchy topping. The more cookie pieces, the better.
  • Place into the freezer for at least one hour to set before eating.

Hershey cake

This cake is all about the kisses.


  • Chocolate cake mix or use above scratch mix
  • Two 8-inch cake pans
  • 2 containers of chocolate icing
  • Bag of Hershey’s Kisses
  • Bag of Hershey’s milk- or dark-chocolate miniatures


  • Bake the cake using a boxed mix or scratch recipe.
  • Allow cake to cool and remove from pan.
  • Be sure the cake is completely cool before decorating.
  • Cover the bottom layer with a liberal amount of icing.
  • Place top layer on and ice with a liberal amount of icing.
  • Remove wrappers from Hershey’s Kisses and line the edges of the cake with a circumference of them.
  • Remove wrappers from Hershey’s miniatures and crunch up using a potato masher.
  • Sprinkle the crushed Hershey chocolate throughout the middle of the cake on top for a thin or thick layer.
  • Place in refrigerator to allow chocolate to set.

Cat-face cake

If you have a kitty-lover, this is a meow-a-licious cake.


  • Yellow cake mix or use above yellow scratch mix
  • One 8-inch pan and one 8-inch square pan
  • 2 containers of dark chocolate icing
  • A handful of Hershey’s Kisses
  • 6 black Twizzlers


  • Bake the cake and pour half the batter into a circle pan and the other into a square pan.
  • Allow cakes to cool and remove from pans.
  • Cut two triangle ears from the square cake.
  • Position triangles above the circle cake to make the cat’s ears.
  • Connect to the cat’s head with icing.
  • Apply icing to the rest of the cake.
  • Make eyes, nose, and mouth using Hershey’s Kisses.
  • Make whiskers with Twizzlers.

The secret to making a unique birthday cake is all in the pan. A pan provides the shape. Then, all you need is icing and a little creativity to make your cake distinctive. Add marshmallow Peeps, candy, or fruit to give your cake a unique and yummy topping.

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Dawn Miller
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