Everything's coming up roses! (Unless, of course, you live in the Midwest, or Northeast, or frankly anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line, in which case, there is nothing coming up, and there is snow on the ground. But I digress . . .) For this challenge, I am reaching back into that big old bag of cookie kryptonite! (Yay! Yay. Yay?) And, in honor of spring, and Mothers' Day (which is coming up terribly fast), I would like you to make for me one dozen roses.
But, before I get to the specifics of the challenge, I would like to talk about the prize for it. As with all of our challenges, one lucky challenge entrant will be chosen at random to receive this challenge's prize. "And what IS the prize?", you may ask. Well, here it is . . . another grab bag of decorating items that coordinates with the challenge, including a wide array of rose nails and petal tips, but also these three special goodies:
Two sets of Gourmet Sweet Botanicals crystallized sugar roses (total count: 20), like the one on the scrumptious dessert below (retail value: $40)
One pack of "Spring Floral Bouquet" perfume bottle label wafer paper from Queen of Tarts Wafers (retail value: $14)
And, last but not least, one graduated set of long-stemmed rose cutters from Cookie Cutter Kingdom (retail value: $14)
Wow! I wasn't kidding when I said that everything is coming up roses!
Now, back to the challenge! For this challenge, I want you to make a full one dozen classic royal icing roses. Some of you may also call them "Wilton" roses. What I am talking about is roses that look like this:
Royal Icing Roses by Emma's Sweets
Bike with Flower Basket by Jackie Rodriguez
Handpiped Lace and Roses by Teri Pringle Wood
Lovely, aren't they? I want YOU to be able to make beautiful roses like these too. And I am here to tell you that YES, YOU CAN! Like most things, you just need a good tutorial and a bit of practice.
There are a lot of tutorials out there for making classic royal icing roses (believe me, I watched plenty in preparation for this post), but one of the best is by none other than Cookie Connection host and founder, Julia M. Usher. Literally, everything you really need to know about making beautiful classic royal icing roses is in her YouTube video, which can be viewed here. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks for the shout-out, Christine! Just one small update to my video: For small, relatively flat roses to sit on cookies, I do not pipe a full central cone or core any more, just a dab of icing to anchor the rose center. Then I proceed as in the video, using a small 101S or 101 petal tip.]
Julia makes her roses on a decorator's rose nail, but another method is the "toothpick" method, demonstrated by Tunde in this short Cookie Connection video tutorial. I think that the toothpick method is great for making smaller roses, but I find that it does not really work with the larger, heavier ones. (I always use a decorator's rose nail for larger roses.) When I use the toothpick method, I place a small square of parchment over the toothpick (since I don't have Tunde's hole-punched sheet onto which to transfer the roses) and make the rose on that paper; then I simply remove the entire square of parchment with the rose on it for drying. An example of using the toothpick method with parchment squares can be found on Bake at 350's blog here.
Without giving out too many spoilers, in my opinion, the two keys to royal icing roses are your icing consistency (it should be quite thick, but not so thick that you can't get it relatively easily through a petal tip) and A LOT of PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. And that is why, for this challenge, I will be asking you to make not one, but 12 royal icing roses.
Since classic royal icing roses are kryptonite (aka a perceived or real weakness) to so many of us, many cookiers have developed various easier, alternative style roses, such as: the ribbon rose, the swirl rose, and Sweet Sugarbelle's simple rose.
Example of ribbon-style roses:
Wedding Roses Wreath Cookie by Barbara Anna Foss
Example of swirl-style roses:
Pink Swirl Roses by Kat Rutledge-Ibicci
Example of Sweet Sugarbelle's simple-style roses:
Tea Set by Grunderfully Delicious
While all of these simpler roses are very beautiful, and certainly handy tools to keep in your cookie "toolbox", NONE of them (ribbon, swirl, or simple) will be accepted for the purposes of this challenge. And so, with that caveat, let's get to the rules . . .
1. Create a cookie or set of cookies that include(s) 12 (or more!) classic royal icing roses. The 12 roses do not have to be all on one cookie. You could do one rose on each of 12 cookies, or two roses on each of six cookies - you get the idea.
2. Ribbon, swirl, and simple-style roses (as illustrated above) may be used on your cookie(s), but DO NOT COUNT toward the required 12 roses.
3. As always, we ask that you make a brand new set of cookies for this challenge.
4. Think outside the box, take some healthy risks, and HAVE SOME FUN.
5. ***BONUS*** In honor of spring's renewal and Mothers' Day, consider gifting your Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge "dozen roses" cookie(s) to a special woman in your life. Share the cookie love.
- Please post an image of your cookie or cookie set to the site under the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set no later than May 22, 2016 at 5 pm central.
- Because these challenges will be ongoing, we ask that you put "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #16" in your photo caption AND in a tag, so that we can tell the challenges apart from month to month. Please use the main 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 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 set. Multiple clips of the same entry/cookie set are not allowed unless added in a comment beneath the one primary clip.
After the challenge has closed on May 22, we will announce the winner in the Saturday Spotlight the following weekend (May 28). The next challenge will be announced after that Spotlight.
And one last thing . . . This is NOT meant to be a competition. The only person you should be competing against is yourself. Period. These challenges are intended to inspire the artist in you and push you to be the best cookie artist YOU can be at this snapshot in time. Remember, the whole point of this exercise is to get you out of your comfort zone - to "take healthy risks," as my wise-beyond-his-years son always reminds me. Plus, prizes are given entirely at random, so healthy risk-taking has its own rewards!
I would love to chat with you as you journey through this process, so if you have any questions about the challenge, are having trouble getting started, need help bringing an idea to life, or want technical advice, please leave a comment below.
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.