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Wednesday 30 April 2014

That's So Fetch: A Mean Girls Birthday Cake

"I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy."
Crying Girl ("she doesn't even go here!"), Mean Girls

The day has finally arrived, fangirls and fanboys: Mean Girls turns 10 years old today, and I'm excited. So excited, in fact, that I have made a special cake to celebrate. 

When I first started thinking about making a Mean Girls birthday cake, I knew it had to fulfil certain very important criteria:

1) It had to involve pink, and a lot of it. After all, it's a Wednesday. (I couldn't resist including the whole scene here for giggles.)

2) The aforementioned rainbow should be hidden inside.

3) It had to be totally fetch. Because I'm still trying to make fetch happen.

I think I've ticked all the boxes with this six-layer cake. I will be forever indebted to BBC Good Food, who had already worked out the frightfully boring domestic science part by making an impressive rainbow cake - I followed their cake measurements to avoid tears. I swooped in with the much more interesting Domestic Sluttery part of the proceedings, and made my secret rainbow varying shades of pink (we can call it ombré if you want to be fancy), and used a suitably pink-sounding, pink-tasting flavour combo of raspberry, rose and vanilla. I made the icing as per their guidelines, but I won't tell if you use pre-bought buttercream icing. You'll probably need three tubs of Betty Crocker or similar to ice and layer the whole cake. 

This would, of course, make a lovely cake for anyone's birthday, mean girl or otherwise, in particular fellow pink-lover Bagpuss (12th February, and he'll be 41). It looks impressive, and although the list of steps below is lengthy, it's pretty straightforward. It's just making six cakes, and it's more about patience than skill.

Mean Girls Cake (serves everyone who can sit with us)
Preparation time: 1 hour
Baking time: 1 hour
Assembly and decorating time: 30 minutes
You will need:
For every two layers of cake (you'll need three times these ingredients for a six-layer cake like mine)
  • 125g unsalted butter ("is butter a carb?"), plus a little extra to grease your cake tins
  • 225g plain flour
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp flavouring (I made two layers with raspberry extract, two with rose water, and two with vanilla extract)
  • Pink food colouring (Wilton's are good, and I used a combination of their Rose and Pink shades)
For the icing (whole cake)
  • 3 x 250g tubs of mascarpone
  • 1 tsp flavouring (I used raspberry extract; the norm would be vanilla)
  • 350g icing sugar
To decorate
  • Pink sprinkles of your choice (I used pink sugar and tiny pink chocolate hearts)
  • Pink writing icing (Mine is Dr Oetker's Glitter Writing Gel in neon pink, and was - unusually for icing pens - wonderfully easy to actually write with)
Make it!
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease two 20cm/8in cake tins, and line the bottoms with baking paper.
  2. We're working in batches of two layers at a time, otherwise there won't be space in the oven. Mix the cake ingredients, minus the food colouring, in a food mixer (remember - if you're making a three-flavour cake like mine, each batch of two layers will need a different flavour). A quick blitz is fine - a smooth batter is what we're after. 
  3. Weigh the wet mixture, then remove exactly half into a separate bowl. For reference, my total weight was 606g, so I ended up with two bowls of 303g each. Note down your particular figure, as you'll need to remember it for the next batch.  
  4. It's colouring time! Be restrained with the food dye - that old suck-a-lemon warning about how you can add more, but you can't take any away is true. I used a skewer to add a minuscule amount at a time, stirring well before deciding if I needed to add more. I found it easiest to make the darkest layer in this batch first, because that way I got used to the food colouring and its quirks, and it didn't really matter if I added too much while I experimented.
  5. Pour the batters into the two cake tins - making sure to get them nice and level, and to use every drop of mixture - and bake in the centre of the oven (same shelf) for 15-20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave the cakes in their tins to cool a little, then turn out onto a wire rack while you get on with the rest.
  7. Grease and line your tins again, then repeat steps 2-5, using a different flavouring if that's what you've decided, and of course making the sponges different shades of pink. I may have consulted a Dulux colour card, but I quite soon abandoned that in favour of winging it. Also, when you weigh your mixture in order to half it, make sure the total weight is the same(ish) as it was for the first batch.  
  9. Go through steps 2-5 for a final time. Now you should have six thin sponges in all the shades of pink, ranging from palest pink to OOFT-WHOA pink. 
  10. When all the sponges are fully cooled, it's time to assemble and ice. Make the icing by whisking the mascarpone and flavouring extract until smooth (about half a minute using an electric whisk). Fold in the icing sugar bit-by-bit, using a spatula to gently mix it.
  11. Put a small dollop of icing in the centre of your cake stand. Place the darkest cake layer on top of this, then add a layer of icing on top. Right to the edges, please, and don't scrimp - I used two tablespoons per layer. Smooth it out using a spatula, and place the next darkest layer on top. Repeat until you've got the palest cake on the very top.
    The crumb layer
  12. Quickly and roughly cover the whole cake with a thin layer of icing. This is the crumb layer, so called because it picks up any loose crumbs and means your final layer will be blemish-free.
  13. Now cover the cake with the rest of the icing. At this point, you'll probably be looking in the bowl and LITERALLY SHOUTING, "This is never going cover the whole cake, Laura!". It will. I promise. Slap it on and smooth it around the sides, top, edges, and not forgetting that really hard-to-get-to bit right around the base.
  14. NOW DECORATE. Sprinkles, quotes, whatever you like, just make it pink. I went for "so fetch" because it really is, isn't it? I was going to go for "On Wednesdays we eat pink", and then I was completely creeped out by that sentence. 
  15. You've made a six-layer, raspberry, rose and vanilla rainbow cake! How many slices should you have right away? 4 for you, Glen Coco! You go, Glen Coco! 

I learned a few things along the way:
  • Cut out all six pieces of baking paper for the bottoms of the tins when you do the first two. You will thank me when you're not searching for the scissors part way through your second batch of sponges.
  • Take time levelling off your layers in their tins before you bake them. I was a little gung-ho, and with a bit more care my cakes would have been more even. That said, who gives a damn? It still looks brilliant and tastes amazing. If you're a stickler for the details, though, this is a step you'll want to take a little longer over.
  • The sponges will bake very true to the "raw" colour, so bear this in mind when you're adding your colouring. However, don't be disheartened when two or more look a bit samey straight out of the oven - the spongier inside will show the nuances when you slice through.
  • Don't fret about the icing. Slop it on and whoosh it about if you want. When you try to be too neat, another bit goes awry, and you drive yourself demented smoothing icing - plus, horror-of-horrors, it could split if it's overworked. When in doubt, add a heap of sprinkles to cover an imperfection. No-one will look at your icing once you've cut into the pink rainbow delights within.
  • Normally I'm the world's biggest advocate of eating a little bit of batter here and there while you prepare your cake. In this instance, however, we want the sponges to be the same size, so eating half the mix before it's even in the oven isn't an option here. The same goes for the icing, as you really will need it all. There will be plenty to eat once it's finished. 


  1. "As cute as Brutus."

  2. Stop trying to make fetch happen.

  3. It's happened.

  4. I'm a bit sad that Dulux hasn't got a colour called 'OOOFT-WOAH pink'. Or indeed an array of Mean Girls pinks - Wednesday, So Fetch, I have a lot of feelings, You go Glen Coco Fuchsia. I'd paint an entire room with 'Too Gay To Function'.


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