Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #2 - Shapes

2014 FB

 

New Year's cookies in June?

Why am I showing you these cookies now? Because this is where I got the idea for this next challenge. I love this set because of how it came about. I have a good friend in my town who also decorates cookies. We decorated and decorated all through the Christmas holiday last year, and after the big day, she was headed out of town. Before she went, she dropped off a few cookies that she hadn't gotten around to decorating, so they wouldn't go to waste.

 

Well, you can see that it was an eclectic collection of cookies: two Hello Kitties, a circle and some stars, three snowmen, and a goose. And the only cookie decorating occasion in sight was New Year's Day! Let me tell you, I had SO MUCH FUN figuring out how to use all of these cookies in one set, and I really could not be more pleased with how they turned out. I mean, three snowmen and a goose? Crazy!

 

So here's your challenge.

I'm going to give you five cookie shapes. You need to pick at least three, and as many as all five, and decorate them as one set - that is coordinated together!  Some logistics: I will provide you with a template for all of the shapes so that you can hand-cut them if you don't have all of these crazy cutters. I will even give you some hand-cutting pointers in a minute! (See below.)

 

You may make one of each of your chosen shapes, or multiples of them as needed, but you need to use at least three of the different shapes. Also, while it is fine to adjust the size of the cookies, or to use the cutter (if you happen to have it) instead of hand-cutting, we are not looking for you to combine the shapes. It is meant to be as if I dropped by your house with these . . . 

 

 IMG_2263

 

. . . and asked you to make something of them!

 

For the purpose of this challenge, I baked these tonight. I also hand-cut them, because I don't have all of these cutters. These are cutter shapes that I solicited from a few cookie friends, without telling them what I was up to! They sent me pictures of cutters and I came up with this mix above. You can find the pdf template with all of the shapes in the attachment at the end of the post.

 

So, let me tell you about the ways that I hand-cut cookies.

I do it a lot, because I'm forever making funky art cookies. I know that some people avoid it - so this is the perfect opportunity to practice!

 Handcutting Collage

  1. Start with dough that has been rolled out and chilled. I usually pop it in the freezer for five minutes.
  2. I used to use a sharp paring knife, and that's what you should use if you don't have an X-ACTO knife. 
  3. For the paring knife method, cut out the template from paper. I just used regular printer paper, but I've also used file folders or thin plastic, depending on how often I wanted to cut out the shape.  
  4. Put the template on the dough and cut around it with the knife.  
  5. If you find that the paper sticks to the dough, you can lightly dust with flour, or lightly spray the paper with cooking spray and wipe it off with a paper towel. 
  6. My hand-cutting method now involves an X-ACTO knife, and I put the template right on the chilled dough and cut through the drawing of the image and the dough at the same time. I often use tracing paper over the sketch of the image, and then use that paper as the template. Tracing paper has the advantage of not sticking to the dough as much too.
  7. Here is the gnome after I cut it out with the X-ACTO knife. I leave the paper on the cookie until I transfer it to the cookie sheet, to help the cookie hold its shape.
  8. I happened to have a fleur de lis cutter. But it's mini, so I made a few extras . . .
  9. Here are the shapes ready to bake!

By the way, I have to give a shout-out here to Jill Wettstein of Jill FCS. She put together a great little hand-cutting tutorial on her Facebook page that really was a big help to me when I was starting out! 

 

And of course, there will be prizes!

Julia has graciously and generously rounded up some great things that will be awarded to one participant in a random drawing. [EDITOR'S NOTE: An extra special thanks to Ribbon by Design for seeking me out at CookieCon to offer up their wonderful part of this prize!]

 

Prize- Challenge Two

Estimated retail value: $42

 

AND, as an added bonus because this is a hard challenge, I will be contributing to the prize pot as well - with a few cookie cutters that I have designed and will have made. Details on that are in the works!

 

To enter:

  • Please post an image of your cookies on the site under the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set no later than July 6, 2014 at 5 pm central.
  • Because these challenges will be ongoing, we ask that you put the number of the challenge in your photo caption (subtitle field) AND in a tag, so we can tell them apart from month to month. As noted above, this is challenge #2. Please use the title field to uniquely name your cookies as you normally would.
  • Please also assign other relevant clip sets and tags to your images, as you normally would. (Meaning don't just use the Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge clip set and leave it at that, or your photos won't easily be found with keyword searches.)
  • You can enter more than once, but please post only one clip of each distinct entry/cookie. Multiple clips of the same entry/cookie are not allowed unless added in a comment beneath the one primary clip.

Once the challenge closes on July 6, we will announce the winner and host the Saturday Spotlight the following weekend. But you can expect Challenge #3 around July 7. And don't worry, next month will be an easy one!

 

Last but not least, these challenges are meant to spark conversation and learning. If you have a question, or if you need help getting started or just want to run an idea by me or the group, please comment below. I love to troubleshoot, brainstorm, and talk technique, so please don't be shy!

 

 

Rebecca Weld came to cookie decorating from gingerbread house making. As a "real" architect, busy business owner, and mom of two small kids, Rebecca discovered that gingerbread houses had a way of getting out of hand, and that cookie baking offered her a more manageable artistic outlet. Always eager to be a part of the cookie conversation, Rebecca maintains an active Facebook page as The Cookie Architect, as well as Pinterest and Instagram presences. She makes cookies to inspire herself and others, to feed those needs that art fills in all artists: expression, sharing, stretching yourself. 

 

Photo credit: Rebecca Weld

 

Note: Practice Bakes Perfect is a monthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Rebecca Weld that poses inspiration or challenges to get you to stretch as a cookie artist - for practice, for prizes, and for fun! Its content expresses the views of the author and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. Catch up on all of Rebecca's past Cookie Connection posts here.

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Dear Rebecca:

Thank you for conducting the second challenge, a really crazy but absolutely challenging!! I have two questions for this challenge:

1. Besides the requirements for cookie shape and coordination, do you have any restriction on the decorating mediums (e.g. fondant, royal icing, etc.) to be used on the cookies?

2. Is there any theme limitation?

 

Best,

Dan 

Good Morning:

I really wanted to start another challenge! and I love this!

But I have two questions ....
1 - Can I choose the topic that I want for my cookies? or cookies have to be New Year.
2 - Can I change the size of the cookies? or I have to respect the size of the photo

Thank you.

Originally Posted by Dan:

       

Dear Rebecca:

Thank you for conducting the second challenge, a really crazy but absolutely challenging!! I have two questions for this challenge:

1. Besides the requirements for cookie shape and coordination, do you have any restriction on the decorating mediums (e.g. fondant, royal icing, etc.) to be used on the cookies?

2. Is there any theme limitation?

 

Best,

Dan 


       

Hi Dan- great questions! Fondant is absolutely welcome- really any cookie decorating medium or technique!
Also- no theme limitation- I show the New Years cookies only as an example- they can be timely like Fathers Day, Patriotic, or anything at all- tv show, birthday party- as long as the theme carries across the set!
Originally Posted by El rincón de glass:

Good Morning:

I really wanted to start another challenge! and I love this!

But I have two questions ....
1 - Can I choose the topic that I want for my cookies? or cookies have to be New Year.
2 - Can I change the size of the cookies? or I have to respect the size of the photo

Thank you.

El rincon de glass- Absolutely any theme!  I was only showing the New Years ones as an example.  If I were to do that today, I'd do something different- more topical to my needs now- summer, patriotic, house warming, etc.

And yes- you can change the size of the cookies- it is only their shape that has to be maintained.  And if you wanted to do multiples- two pears, a gnome and a fleur de lis for example, that is fine too.  As long as you choose at least three shapes and the theme carries across the set!

Originally Posted by Lucy (Honeycat Cookies):

This is fascinating! I have one question, does the relative size of the shapes matter? I have a fleur de lis cutter and a pear for example but my fleur de lis is bigger than my pear!

Using your own cutters is great, and yes, the size can change.  Perfect example Lucy!  My fleur was mini so I made it smaller, but it could be the biggest one if you want to blow it up or use a cutter!

This is a great challenge! And that New Year's set is gorgeous! I hand cut cookies all the time and came up with my own method of doing it. I cut the shapes out using my cake boards. I put the white side down on the dough and it doesn't stick. It also gives me a firm shape to follow. Necessity really is the mother of invention!

Originally Posted by Dana ~ Dana's Daydreaming Cookies:

Hi Rebecca! For the Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #2 - Shapes, are we allowed to alter the shape of any of the cookie in this set? For example, cut the leaf off of the pear shape or a corner off the rectangular shape? 

Dana- I'd prefer that they remain as is- the intention is as if someone handed you these cookies already baked.  I suppose if you wanted to break or cut away from the cookie- but I'd try and fill all the nooks and crannies with design instead.  We'll do some shape combining and changing in a later challenge!

Originally Posted by patty53:

I would love to participate .... if I can ..! as I understand it I have to choose three shapes and decorate them to coordinate pleasure ..!

Patty53- it is three minimum, but you can do up to the full five!

An X-Acto knife - of course -  now why didn't I think of that?  I've been fussing for a month after losing my favorite paring knife for cutting out cookies, while and X-Acto knife sits silently in my desk drawer all the time.  This is such a great site -  Thank  you Rebecca!

I have my idea and the dough is made.  As soon as "life' gets out of the way, I will get busy. I understand that we label the entry picture as Challenge #2, but do we still post the picture in the clip where the Challenge #1 photos are?

Thank you, Jackie

Originally Posted by JackieLynn:

I have my idea and the dough is made.  As soon as "life' gets out of the way, I will get busy. I understand that we label the entry picture as Challenge #2, but do we still post the picture in the clip where the Challenge #1 photos are?

Thank you, Jackie

Yes, there is just one Practice Bakes Perfect clip set. I did not want to create one for each challenge, because very soon we would have an unmanageable list of clip sets on the site (which makes navigating other clips sets quite difficult). Plus, this way, there's just one place to go to review the results of all of our challenges, which I think will probably be more convenient for most people.

 

This is why it is important for everyone to include  "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #2" in both the sub-titles (caption field) AND tags, so that we can easily differentiate which clips go with which challenge.

Originally Posted by Evabella´sCookies:

Hay que hacerlas con el tip 2????

Sorry, I don't think I understand your question. We don't specify that anything needs to be done with a #2 pastry tip. All we are indicating is that your entry must include a caption (sub-title) and tag that says "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #2". I hope I've answered your question.

Originally Posted by Michelle west Sion:

Wow. This getting good. It is so interesting how people see things in so many different ways

I agree Michelle! And I'm excited because I worried that is was "too hard" or specific somehow- but people are running wild- perfect and I love it!!!  I even did a set that is nothing like anything I've ever done! Can't wait to share after the recipient gets them!

Everyone is doing such amazing work!!! Everybody keep it up! Had a stray thought though. When handcutting- you need to be on a cutting board- I use those flexible plastic cutting mats. I don't want anyone destroying their counter with an XACTO!
Originally Posted by Michelle west Sion:

Well the competition is heating up now.    I can't believe all these amazing creations can come from five simple cookies

I know!!! I had no idea!  And now I'm feeling the pressure for next month!  I had ideas and now they have vanished from my head!

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