[EDITOR'S NOTE: My bad! Christine got this post to me in plenty of time for it to be posted on Saturday. But . . . I had a minor work crisis yesterday, and got distracted by it, which is the only reason this post is late. My apologies to everyone, and especially Christine. Now, go on and enjoy what follows! ~JMU]
By the time you all read this, I will hopefully be lying on a beach, cerveza in hand, but at this moment, as I write this Spotlight, I can see and think of nothing but lace! As ever, I am extremely impressed with the myriad ways you used lace in your cookie designs. Whether it was with very traditional and very beautiful lacy hearts, or more eclectic 3-D masterpieces, you all definitely brought your A-game for this popular challenge. Before this challenge, I honestly had no idea how very versatile edible lace was. But, of course, all of YOU did!
Now, before we get to the spotlighted artists for Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #21, let's talk about the incredible prize that we have for one lucky entrant! You may recall that our prize is none other than a HUGE $100 gift certificate to SugarVeil®, which has been generously donated by Michele Hester, SugarVeil®'s owner, founder, and food scientist extraordinaire. A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Michele in person at CookieCon, where she personally demonstrated a whole slew of SugarVeil® products, and I have to say, I was truly amazed. From chocolate lace to Air Pen piping, SugarVeil® is at the forefront of cutting-edge sugar art. And now, one lucky winner of Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #21 will be able to buy any SugarVeil® product his or her heart desires! Below is just a small sampling of some of those products and what you can do with them. Thank you, Michele!
And the (randomly drawn) winner of Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #21 is . . . Kelcy Workman! Congratulations, Kelcy!
Kelcy had not one but two entries in the challenge (remember: more entries = more chances to win!), both of which showed an adept use of several techniques, including edible lace, needlepoint, and handpiped lace. I can't wait to see Kelcy take her lace skills to the next level with the products she buys with her SugarVeil® gift certificate!
Cross-Stitch Bunny by Kelcy Workman
Lace Cookies by Kelcy Workman
And now, off we go to take a look at the other spotlighted entries from this challenge, which I present in no particular order . . .
Fun with Lace by Manu
Edible lace! Needlepoint! 3-D cookies! Piped lace on a curved cookie! Photography staging! This entry by Manu truly has it all. Brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed, this set pushes the envelope. There is not much more I can say about this entry, so take another moment to stop and just stare at it. Seriously.
Spring Lace by Sweet Prodigy
This is just a very harmonious cookie. The design is really lovely, and the piping impeccable. You can never go wrong with a combination of violet and yellow, but the bright violet and pale yellow really work so well here. I also thought it was interesting how Sweet Prodigy used edible lace mesh for the center, but adorned it with pansies instead of needlepoint. I could frame this cookie, hang it on my wall, and admire it all day.
Lolita Fashion by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.
This is such a whimsical and fun cookie. But the devil is really in the details, and upon closer look, the amount and variety of lace, both edible and piped, used in this entry by Ryoko are staggering. For example, tiny bits of edible lace were cut for the thin lace borders of the dress, and a teeny tiny grid was piped for the stockings. It was immediately clear to me that this was an entry that Ryoko had spent a significant amount of time planning prior to execution. From the looks of the elaborate photo essay that Ryoko put together to explain her process (see it here in the comments to her entry), I imagine hers was not much different than that of an actual dress designer!
A Grandmother's Heart by Teri Pringle Wood
I could probably leave the caption off this photo, and most of you would still know who created this work of lacy cookie art! In addition to this exquisite entry, Teri submitted a whopping THREE other entries, each one more beautiful than the last, so be sure to take a look at them all: "Lacy," "An Irish Valentine," and "Lacy and Blue." I chose to specially spotlight the cookie above, "A Grandmother's Heart," because I thought the idea of piping a needlepoint grid over a handpainted image was really beautiful and innovative, and, of course, Teri's piping skills are unparalleled.
Haftowany Pierniczek by Teresa Pękul
Teresa Pękul is another prolific lace cookier who had multiple entries in Challenge #21. I chose this particular cookie to spotlight for a few reasons. First, I think that the needlepoint is just exquisite. That handpiped grid could not be finer or more uniform, and the tiny needlepoint rose pattern could not look more realistic if it were stitched with needle and thread. I am also impressed with the Battenberg-style lace border of this cookie, which complements the needlepoint center so perfectly.
Backstyle of a Bride by Aurinko
I have to say I am a bit partial to this entry, as it evokes memories of my mom making my own wedding gown. We shopped for the lace in the garment district in New York City, and she cut and sewed individual flowers from the lace all over the gown. Here, I like how Aurinko made an edible lace veil and then tied the whole "look" together by using some of the individual flowers from the lace on the body of the dress. Here comes the bride!
Jajka Wielkanocne by Teresa Pękul
I am extremely impressed by the fact that, in her second spotlighted entry (well done, Teresa!), Teresa was able to so cleanly pipe lace and such extremely fine needlepoint grids on curved 3-D cookies. Now those are some serious lace-piping skills!
Lady in Lace by Dolce Flo
It is quite possible that I love this cookie representation of Madame la Connétable des Augures even more than I like the original 17th century painting upon which this cookie was based (which you can see for yourself here). Aside from the captivating subject and Dolce Flo's clear ability with a paint brush, I think the piped lace collar trim (done with some amazing perspective, no less) and piped (and contoured!) needlepoint bow really steal the show.
Jolly Mask and Five of a Kind by GingerbreadFairy
This entry is like a "best of" at least two, if not three, past Practice Bakes Perfect challenges: 3-D, molded cookies, and now lace! Again, I am super impressed with the piped lacy elements on the curved surface of the mask, and how GingerbreadFairy was able to seamlessly use both edible lace and piped lace elements to create the mask. As one judge put it, "If you wore it for Carnival in Venice, no one would ever suspect that it was a cookie."
Lacy Sunbonnet Sue by Alison Friedli
I think this is just a sweet cookie. The dimension created by the edible lace elements and the royal icing transfer butterflies really brings this cookie scene to life. I especially like how Alison was able to ruffle the edible lace to create the bonnet brim. The wafer paper peeking through the edible net lace on the dress is super cute as well.
As the Schoolhouse Rock! saying goes, "Darn! That's the end!" It was incredibly difficult to highlight just ten entries from this lace challenge. We tried to pick entries for this Spotlight that showed the broadest possible sample of lace techniques. Honestly, there were so many entries that deserved to be spotlighted. I cannot encourage everyone strongly enough to check out the entire Practice Bakes Perfect clip set for this challenge to see for yourself. For instance, take a look at this gorgeous "Easter Egg 2017" by Cookie Celebration, "Kalocsai Embroidery" by Gulnaz, "Blue Birds and Eggs" by mintlemonade, and two amazing "non-entries" by contributor/judge Laegwen, including this clever "Laced with Coffee" set. And, yet, there is still so much more! So please do head over to the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set and check them ALL out!
Since both Julia and I are out of town over the next couple of weeks, our next Practice Bakes Perfect challenge will post in approximately two weeks, around April 8, give or take. Please stay tuned!
Christine Donnelly began her professional baking career at 16, when she was hired on the spot at her local bakery to work the counter and decorate cakes. After detours to college and law school, she worked as a trial lawyer in Chicago for many years, ultimately leaving that career to become a stay-at-home mother to her two children. In her “retirement,” she continued to bake at home, at last finding her preferred artistic medium in decorated cookies. In February 2013, Bakerloo Station was born with a presence on both Facebook and Instagram. Christine makes cookies to balance her left brain, to inspire and share creative ideas, and to feed those needs that only art can satisfy.
Photo credit: Christine Donnelly
Note: Practice Bakes Perfect is a bimonthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Christine Donnelly 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 Christine's past Cookie Connection posts here.