Monday, July 30, 2007

Mirror Mirror On My Cake

Daring Bakers Challenge - July: Strawberry Mirror Cake



How the months fly by when you are having fun! This is so true when I think about the fantastic Daring Bakers and the monthly challenges. It's hard to believe this is my fourth month with the awesome group and I find it so astonishing that I have managed to complete four challenges with more or less good to pretty good results.

This month it was the brilliant Peabody who was to give us our assignment. I have no problem admitting that I was nervous about it.



If anyone is a regular visitor over at her blog (and I think almost all of you are) will know she dishes out the most incredible cakes, sweets and desserts. So, I knew she would set a high standard.

When the challenge was announced I was on vacation but you can all take a guess what the first thing I did upon returning. I logged into the DB blog and checked out what challenge she had chosen. It was to be a mirror cake - a strawberry mirror cake to celebrate the flavor of summer. She had chosen a recipe from Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy 1993 - a cookbook I have my eye on for a while. So, I was excited to be making something from that.




Reading over the instructions a few times it was all straightforward stuff. I was a bit relieved as, besides the fact that it would be time consuming and there were several steps, it all looked very doable. All I had to do was organize myself and set myself a workable timeline.

As with each challenge there were the rules and the modifications we had to stick to.

The rules for this challenge were:
  1. Cake must be a white cake.
  2. Cake must be strawberry (unless there are health issues or one was not able to find strawberries).
  3. The mirror had to be made.

The allowed modifications were:
  1. The alcohol may be substituted for a non-alcoholic flavor or omitted.
  2. Cake may be decorated BUT a portion of the mirror must be visible

I tried to research mirror cakes on the internet and was a bit disappointed not to have found much information on it. Also the library did not produce much useful details for this cake. So, I was more intrigued by the mystery of it. I finally decided to make the cake in one go, instead of dividing it over a span of two days. The entire cake kept me busy for approx. 4 hours, but that was including chatting to other DBs and commenting on the DB blog!

The cake consists of four components:
  • Two layers of spongy cake
  • Two layers of Bavarian cream as a filling
  • Strawberry juice for the mirror
  • Finally the actual mirror.
Without much banter from me - I present you my fourth completed Daring Baker Challenge.



Strawberry Mirror Cake
Adapted from Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy 1993



Special Pans: 11 x 17" Jelly Roll Pan, 10" Springform Pan, 8 1/4" Cake Round or Tin (or pattern)

Strawberry Mirror Cake

Ingredients

3 eggs
3 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2 TBSP sugar
2/3 cup sifted cake flour
½ cup water
1/3 cups sugar
2 TBSP kirsch or strawberry liqueur

Method

Preheat oven to 230C. Butter and flour the sides of an 11-by-17 inch jelly roll pan (rimmed baking sheet). Line bottom of pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit bottom pan exactly.

Beat eggs, egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar together in a medium bowl until thick and light. Beat in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, add cream of tartar and beat until whites begin to form peaks. Add the 2 TBSP sugar and beat until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks (do not over beat).

Sift flour over the egg yolk mixture and fold in . Stir in one fourth of the whites. Then carefully fold in the remaining whites.

Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake until light brown and springy to touch (7 to 10 minutes).

Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife along edge to loosen. Invert cake tin to cut out 8 ¼ inch circles of cake. Wrap the cake layers, separated with waxed paper, and set aside.

At this point the cake can be frozen.

Soaking Syrup

Combine water and the 1/3 cup sugar in saucepan; bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Cool to room temperature; flavor with liqueur. Set aside or refrigerate in glass jar until ready to use.

My tips: In Germany cream of tartar is called Weinstein Backpulver. Alnatura is the brand I used, which I found at DM Drogerie. I had posed a question on the DB blog about what cream of tartar actually does when added to baking ingredients. As always the DBs are so full of energy and provided me with useful information from O chef.

I did not notice any great difference in my egg whites with the addition of the cream of tartar.




Strawberry Bavarian Cream



Ingredients

2 ½ TBSP unflavored gelatin
1 ½ cups strained strawberry puree
5 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups milk
1 TBSP lemon juice
several drops of red food coloring
1 ¾ cups whipping cream

Method

Sprinkle the gelatin over the strawberry puree in a small bowl and set aside until spongy.

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl' beat until light. Bring milk to a boil in sauce pan. Add a few tablespoons of the hot milk to the yolk mixture, stirring continuously. Once the egg mixture has tempered you can pour the rest in a steady stream and stir with a wooden spoon. Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until your finger leaves a clear trail in sauce when drawn across the back of the spoon. Do not boil or mixture will curdle.

Immediately remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin mixture. Pour into a stainless steel bowl places over a bowl of ice water. Stir in lemon juice and a few drops of red food coloring. Cool over ice water, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to the consistency of softly whipped cream.

While gelatin mixture is cooling, whip the whipping cream until it holds soft peaks. When the gelatin mixture resembles softly whipped cream, fold the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture.

My tips: I made my strawberry puree by simply throwing them in the blender and pureeing them. It is not necessary to add any extra sugar or lemon juice. If the strawberries are fresh and taste good simply pureeing them will do.



Strawberry Juice

Ingredients

1 ½ pints of strawberries
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup water

Method

Wash and hull strawberries; coarsely chop.

Place strawberries in saucepan; crush to start juices flowing. Place over low heat; add sugar and water; simmer slowly for 10 minutes.

Pour juice and pulp through damp jelly bag or cheesecloth-lined colander and drain into a bowl for 15 minutes. Do not press down on fruit.

Strawberry Mirror

Ingredients

1 tsp lemon juice
1 TBSP kirsch
1 TBSP water
1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
Few drops of red food coloring

Method

Prepare strawberry juice.

Place lemon juice, kirsch, and water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over this mixture; set aside until spongy and soft.

Measure 1 ½ cups Strawberry juice into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; pour over gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve gelatin. Tint to desired color with red food coloring. Place bowl over bowl of ice water and stir occasionally until the mixture is syrupy and just beings to thicken (do not allow to jell); remove from ice water.

When mixture is syrupy, pour a 1/16-inch layer over the top of cake. Refrigerate until set.

My tips: Make sure there are no bubbles when you pour the liquid onto the cake. To get rid of the bubbles simply tap the bowl on the counter a few times to release the air. Do the same with the tin once you have poured it onto the cake.






To Assemble the Cake

  1. Brush sides of 10-inch springform pan lightly with flavorless salad oil or almond oil. Cut out a cardboard circle that is exactly the same size as the bottom inside of the pan; cover cardboard with aluminum foil and fit into bottom of pan. Center one layer of the cake bottom of pan. Brush the cake with some of the soaking syrup to just moisten(not drench) the cake; set aside.
  2. Prepare Strawberry Bavarian Cream. Immediately pour about half of the Bavarian Cream over the first layer of cake in the pan. Set the next layer of cake on top of the cream. Pour remaining Bavarian Cream over cake and smooth top of the cream with spatula. Refrigerate until the cream sets (1 to 2 hours).
  3. Prepare the Strawberry Mirror.


To serve

Wrap a hot towel around the outside of springform pan for a few minutes. Run a small sharp knife tip around the edge of the Strawberry Mirror to separate it form the sides of pan. Mirror will tear when sides are unlatched if it is stuck at ANY point. Slowly unlatch the pan and slide it off the cake. Slice cake in wedges and serve in upright slices.

Decoration

The red and pink are such bright and prominent colors, I thought of adding a bit of contrast in color, but also slightly to the taste, by adding a few lovely green pistachios. They livened the cake up and gave it a bit of crunch. I used some leftover strawberries and cut them in quarters leaving the greens on. I was quite pleased with the end result.



Verdict




The cake is a stunner. It looks great with the alternating layers of cake and cream and finally the bright red mirror. The green highlights added more to it's good looks. Taste-wise, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. I used fantastic organic strawberries that were exploding with flavor when eaten pure, however, the taste of the fruit somehow was lost in the cake.

Another thing I was a bit disappointed with was the overall texture. While the spongy cake was perfect and tasted great on its own, the cream was a bit stiff. When I first read the ingredients of the cake, I was a bit taken aback by the amount of gelatin that goes into the cream. It's a large amount and I wonder if that's what made the cream so stiff. I was hoping for a light and fluffy creamy texture but that was not the case.

On the whole though the cake tasted OK. The three of us had a slice each and
Tom took the rest for his students over at the uni. They enjoyed it to the last slice.

Would I make this again?

I have mixed feelings about this one. It was easy to make even though it takes a lot of time to prepare. I think if I was to give this another try I would probably use other berries, like raspberries, which are more tart and add more flavor than the strawberries do. I would also reduce the overall amount of gelatin to make it creamier. Furthermore, I would also leave the food coloring out. It does add to the vibrant color of the cake but I think the natural coloring of the berries would have been just as spectacular.

What did I learn from this challenge?

Organization is the name of the game. I took plenty of time for this and organized myself really well. I carried out each component of the cake step by step and it all came together really well. The overall making of this cake was a lot of fun and when I finally poured the mirror over the cake and slid it into the fridge to set, I felt completely satisfied.

Thanks to Pea, for choosing a very interesting challenge. To see the other completed cakes from the rest of the fantastic members visit the Daring Bakers' Blogroll and work your way down the list.

Time to relax for a few days until the next challenge is announced. Hope to see you all here around the same time next month again.


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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

73 comments :

  1. Looks great Meeta! Once again you did a fabulous job with the challenge. I love this cake for its visual appeal, it's like takig grandma out for a drive an her shiny silver car...classy!

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  2. Aaah, Meeta! The cake looks stunning! I've got very similar feelings to yours - I was disappointed about the lack of strawberry flavour. I loved the sponge, but the Bavarian didn't impress me (maybe it was me?). Did't like the use of food colouring. And although it looked impressive, I thought the amount of work (and the number of eggs) that went into it were on the excessive side. I prefer easier, yet at least as tasty, concoctions :)

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  3. Your cake looks great Meeta :) I like your strawberries on top, I wondered if I would do the same, next time ... it's really pretty!

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  4. Yeah, the gelatin has to be pretty heavy since it is the Bavarian Cream and not the cake that gives it structure.
    I definitely suggest getting that cookbook, mine is very well used.
    Excellent job on your cake.

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  5. Loved this Meeta. The pics are absolutely great.

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  6. It looks great! Mine did taste a lot of strawberries but I'm beginning to suspect that that I might have interpreted the recipe slightly wrong, I first made the puree with fresh strawberries but then I thought that was wrong so I used the strawberries left over from the strawberry juice making and that made the bavarian taste a lot of strawberries. boh, who knows

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  7. Beautiful! I love the look of your cake Meeta.

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  8. That looks heavenly! it has an appeal to it, looks luxurious for me...great job!
    padma

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  9. That was another superlative baking experience dear girl! I can imagine the kind of organizing that would go behind something like this...you are turning into an expert Bakerina :)

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  10. Wonderful Meeta...simply superb...you have a great sense of creativity...way to go...

    Srivalli
    www.cooking4allseasons.blogspot.com

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  11. Meeta, you were "quite pleased"??? Talk about understatement! I'd have been over the MOON if I'd made this gorgeous looking cake!! :)

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  12. great work of art, Meeta! as always....

    Just a note on weinstein (pls. correct me if I'm wrong). Weinstein itself is cream of tartar but is mixed with baking soda or any such agent to make a baking powder. I suppose weinstein backpulver is a bio-baking powder that is free of phosphate (now i don't know what effects phosphate has on one's health). i use this like a normal baking powder in cakes. but i do remember seeing something to do with egg-whites on normal supermarket shelves. wonder what they are!

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  13. great work of art, Meeta! as always....

    Just a note on weinstein (pls. correct me if I'm wrong). Weinstein itself is cream of tartar but is mixed with baking soda or any such agent to make a baking powder. I suppose weinstein backpulver is a bio-baking powder that is free of phosphate (now i don't know what effects phosphate has on one's health). i use this like a normal baking powder in cakes. but i do remember seeing something to do with egg-whites on normal supermarket shelves. wonder what they are!

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  14. oops... why did my comment appear twice??

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  15. Your cake looks gorgeous. I kinda thought the same about the taste. I found the bavarian cream a wee bit bland.

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  16. Well done Meeta, it looks superb. Great pics as always. x

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  17. WOW! You met the challenge head on, Meeta! What a beautiful cake!

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  18. oh this oe looks stunning! love it, not like my little dwarf cake. good job meeta!

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  19. Your cake looks stunningly good! You can easily feel good about this one.
    I especially enjoyed the clean up!
    Different experiences: I really loved the bavarian cream and thought it really tasted wonderfully of strawberries.

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  20. The pictures are a great treat Meeta!

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  21. Your cake looks beautiful Meeta, and what a great idea to add bits of pistachio to it to draw the color out! Since I've made the cake with both strawberries and raspberries I can confirm that it tastes better and more flavorful with raspberries...of course, if I hadn't made a mistake to start with in interpreting the recipe, it probably would have had more flavor with the strawberries.

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  22. The colors are so attractive and I love how you decorated the strawberries on top of the mirror. Beautiful!

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  23. This is the 3rd Mirror cake I am looking at today! I was puzzled at first and then I got it!!:D
    Looks great.Mirror is new to me!:)

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  24. Great colors on the cake meeta. I was dubious about all that gelatin too but it obviously made the cake more enduring. I agree about the organization, I was flying by the seat of my pants when I made this. I could have prepped all the strawberry portions all at once instead of having to do wash and hull the strawberries a second time for the mirror.

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  25. The colors of your mirror cake look gorgeous.

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  26. Lovely cake Meeta! I'm with you though, I found the flavors very subdued.

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  27. Lovely, lovely cake, beautifully presented!

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  28. Lovely cake Meeta. I just saw another one at Sunitha's blog.. same challenge. Kudos to you both.
    It sure is a long procedure and I like how you've presented each step so well.

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  29. Just lovely Meeta! Your pictures are gorgeous, and I love the care and patience you put into decorating it - and posting about it! I did not put food colouring in mine and still thought it turned out well.

    I've missed your blog and have so much catching up to do. I hope all is well!

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  30. Good job, Meeta. Your cake looks beautiful and I like hearing your thoughts on the process of making it.

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  31. I'm with ya - the bavarian cream was a little stiff. It made it slice beautifully though.

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  32. I knew your cake would be beautiful! I love the addition of the pistachios. It sounds like people were either in love with this cake or a bit disappointed with the flavor. I was with you, a bit disappointed, although it was a gorgeous cake!!

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  33. It looks beautiful Meeta!

    I was also disappointed about the lack of strawberry flavour and I didn't use any food colouring. And I agree that the cake would be better with less gelatine.

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  34. Meeta, what a lovely looking cake. You've decorated it beautifully! Wonderful post too, you've really made those instructions and tips very clear for anyone who tries the cake. And they all should!

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  35. Meeta, as usual your cake and photos just blow me away. How unbelievable your cake looks. And your decorations are what makes it so perfect!

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  36. It's a beauty as always Meeta, thats four down for us and hopefully many more to go!

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  37. Hi folks! I thank you all for your comments. The challenge was great, but I can tell you I was glad I had it behind me.

    I appreciate all your wonderful feedback and the great motivation.

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  38. I knew when I clicked on your site, that yours would be so pretty. All yours are!

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  39. Fantastic post. I came to similar conclusions about it too. You plate is pretty ordinary though ;-) I beat you there :-D

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  40. It's unfortunate that your were disappointed with the flavor especially after all that work. I guess it really depends on the strawberries. But your cake is truly beautiful!

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  41. It seems that many of the Daring Bakers were not entirely pleased with the flavor or texture of this cake, but all of you produced a lovely cake with beautiful decoration. Hooray!

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  42. Ooooh Meeta, such a beautiful cake. I especially like the addition of the decorations on the top. In thinking about the differences in texture for the cream, all I can figure out is that I used whole strawberry puree, not strained, in the bavarian cream, which might have lightened it some. I agree on the food coloring...probably would do without next time. Your proportions of cake, cream and mirror look perfect!

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  43. Look at that stunning cake! Meeta, you never fail to amaze me!

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  44. how do u do it? make a cake like that looks so good!

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  45. What a gorgeous cake you made Meeta - I love your decorations!

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  46. I first go for the cream layer in any mirror cake. Gorgeous Meeta. You should be tired of hearing that by now. But I cannot help say that yr pics are beautiful!

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  47. Gorgeous Cake Meeta. Lovely Pics. Totally fell in love with your cake.

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  48. wow....That's the most beautiful cake I have ever seen..hats off to you Meeta.

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  49. I love the colors on this cake and the name is so fitting! Congrats on completing such a daring challenge with your fellow bakers!

    Ari (Baking and Books)

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  50. I keep putting on weight just looking at your recipe pics. Great going Meeta...

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  51. Great job you've done here Meeta! You were definitely up to the challenge with this cake! :)

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  52. A beautiful cake, Meeta! I agree with you.. the strawberries did get lost in there somewhere and the cream was way too stiff.

    I really like your addition of the pistachio - gorgeous!

    xoxo

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  53. That was another challenge passed with flying colours!!!You did very well!

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  54. Hi,

    I tagged you to post 8 random facts about yourself. For info, visit, http://lamesatkusina.blogspot.com

    Thanks,
    Unice

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  55. Lookin good Meeta! Your cake looks delicious!

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  56. Folks I thank YOU. For your motivation and feedback. I think part of my success lies with you. If it was not for your gentle motivation I think I would not have the drive I do to this.

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  57. That's beautiful! And a lot of hardwork there! Btw, you've been tagged!

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  58. I tried so many times to see your beautiful photos yesterday but the slow connection didn't let me, Meeta!

    Your cake is stunning!

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  59. Lovely cake decorations. Very creative. I agree going step by step through recipes like this are absolutely essential. Wendy

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  60. What a great idea the pistachios are... they add a stunning visual contrast and clearly a nice texture point too. Gorgeous cake Meeta!

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  61. A most beautiful creation. That picture of the entire cake is breathtaking. Very nice job.

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  62. Thank you all so much! I appreciate your feedback and encoragement!

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  63. Wow ! lovely pic and sooooooo yummy. I cant wait to try out your recipe. Ur blogs grb !!! Well, i'm a new blogger and love cooking. I have added you in my blogroll and will keep dropping by.

    www.monaafzal.wordpress.com

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  64. Hey,
    Can I use this image:
    http://i174.photobucket.com/albums/w113/MeetaA/Food/StrawberryMirrorCake02.jpg

    for a multimedia project I'm doing? It won't be published.

    Thanks,
    Armin Samii

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  65. Thank you everyone for your feedback and comments.

    Armin: I am glad to help with your project and you are welcome to use the picture. Thank you for asking and please do not forget to credit me and the blog! I'd really appreciate that!

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  66. This dude used your picture of cake in a crazy rant on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=169967366388610&set=a.141265615925452.44792.100001260439226&comments

    I figured since you had your copyright stamped right on the photo, you might want to know.

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  67. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I was contacted be a few others via email by several other folks. I have sent him a message and also reported it to Facebook. Looks like it has been taken down now.

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  68. Dear Meeta,

    I couldn't remember where I had got this idea... after a lot of thinking, I remembered this post just now.

    As always, my cake didn't come close, but again, as always, the inspiration was you!

    http://chefatwork.blogspot.sg/2012/08/strawberry-cheesecake-trifle-squares.html

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  69. Raaga, that's a good effort too. Well done.... :)

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta