Hello and welcome to a very special Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #50! In recognition of this extraordinary milestone, I thought it only fitting that we mark the occasion by giving you an opportunity to participate in not one – but 50 different challenges! This means you have the possibility of challenging yourself in 50 different ways – and perhaps even have 50 chances of winning the amazing prize! But before I reveal the details of this challenge, let me fill you in on the details of our prize . . .
For this challenge, not one, but two lucky entrants will be chosen at random from among all of the challenge entrants to receive a free ticket ($150 value) to The Bake Fest, the world's largest virtual baking and decorating event, which runs May 21-22, 2022. This online event brings the whole baking community together through workshops, demos, business sessions, and networking opportunities. On the second day, Cookie Connection Founder and Host @Julia M. Usher will be teaching an advanced hands-on cookie decorating workshop for the second year in a row. She can't wait to cookie with you there! But, that's not all - you'll get to learn from at least 40 other instructors, with topics ranging from pie art to baking science to social media marketing. Pretty exciting, huh?! For more info (or if you can't wait and want to purchase a ticket right away ), visit The Bake Fest's site!
And now, let's find out more about the 50 challenges that make up this milestone challenge . . .
As you may know, the very first Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge was launched here on Cookie Connection back in 2014 by Rebecca Weld (aka @RebeccArchitect). It was Rebecca's idea to create a fun way for people to challenge themselves in a non-competitive environment to ultimately become better all-around cookie artists. In March 2015, at Challenge #9, Rebecca ceded her hosting reign to Christine Donnelly (aka @Bakerloo Station) who created 30 fantastic challenges over the course of five years. And then, I took over in March 2020. This special milestone challenge marks my twelfth challenge in just under two years.
For eight years running now, these challenges have seen cookiers of all skill levels and experience try their hands at various techniques, themes, and media; however, with many new cookiers joining Cookie Connection throughout this time, not everyone has had the chance to enter all of the challenges. So for this challenge, I am giving you the opportunity to try your hand at any of the past challenges that you haven't entered before. This means that you will be able to "enter" a past challenge, but it will count toward this challenge.
To learn more about each challenge, simply click on any title in the list below to be taken to that challenge. Just make sure to read the entire post and follow all of the rules for that particular challenge the same way you normally would for any other challenge.
Past Practice Bakes Perfect Challenges:
- Inspiration Board
- One Image
- The Third Dimension
- Architectural Cookies
- Piped Lettering
- Cookie Arrays
- Christmas in July
- Mixed Media
- A Dozen Roses
- Stenciled Scenes
- "You Complete Me" Collaboration
- Molded Cookies
- Cookie Redux
- Wafer Paper
- Warm and Cool
- Cookie (Skills) Swap
- Cookie the World
- Crystal Clear
- Lambeth Overpiping
- Inside the Box
- Brush Embroidery
- Stained Glass
- Gingerbread House
- Imprinted Icing
- Customer Order (Wedding Favor)
- Mystery Shape
Okay, I know what you're thinking, "That's only 49 challenges and you said there were 50." Since we, technically, have had only 49 challenges, I thought it would be fun to add an extra special challenge to the list! Read on for the details . . .
Many of us started learning the techniques of our cookie craft by watching online video tutorials. At the forefront of this trend was none other than Cookie Connection Founder and Host – and sugar artist extraordinaire – @Julia M. Usher. With over 35 million views on her YouTube channel, it's more than likely that most, if not all, of us have at some point watched, learned, and benefited from the wealth of information that Julia provides with her videos.
Julia's channel is filled with a wide range of project tutorials that include everything from complex arrangements using multiple decorated cookies and other media to more basic designs that use techniques suited for the cookier who is just starting out. And this is what makes Julia's YouTube cookie tutorials the perfect addition to our list of challenges! [EDITOR'S NOTE: I am blushing, Christine! Thanks for this lovely and unexpected recognition! ~JMU]
The rules for this particular challenge, if you select it, are as follows:
1. Choose a video tutorial from Julia's YouTube channel that features decorated cookies as the main topic.
2. Follow the tutorial to the best of your abilities to create a finished project as close to Julia's as possible.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In the cases of Challenge #50/Julia's YouTube Cookie Tutorials and Challenge #28/Tutorials, it's acceptable to copy the tutorial project, as the aim with any tutorial is to see how well you can master the techniques in it and create a similar project. But if you select any of the other tutorials listed, you must, in accordance with site rules and US copyright law, submit original work with no use of copyrighted material.
These 50 challenges should provide plenty of opportunity for you to develop your cookie decorating skills. And, remember, all of these challenges are intended to inspire and motivate you to try new ideas, step out of your comfort zone, and take healthy risks. So look for challenges that will encourage you to do just that. Experiment, be creative, and find ways to challenge your abilities. You just might be surprised at what you can accomplish!
PLEASE READ THEM CAREFULLY. I would hate to disqualify an entry because someone failed to read ALL of the rules.
1. For each entry, select from one of the 50 challenges listed above. You may submit entries for as many different challenges as you like, however, in the interest of learning and growing, you may submit only one entry for each challenge. Similarly, for Challenge #50/Julia's YouTube Cookie Tutorials and Challenge #28/Tutorials, you may select just one of the tutorials and submit only one entry for it.
2. You may submit entries ONLY for challenges you have NOT yet entered, regardless of whether or not your entry was featured in the Saturday Spotlight.
3. In the comments section under your entry, tell us which challenge your entry is based on and why you chose that challenge.
4. You must follow ALL of the rules that are listed for your chosen challenge. If you have questions about any of the rules or need clarification, please make sure to post your question(s) in the comments section below.
5. Your design/set MUST BE ORIGINAL and NOT a copy of any other artist's design. Again, the ONLY exceptions to this rule are for Challenge #28/Tutorials and Challenge #50/Julia's YouTube Cookie Tutorials, since these challenges require you to reproduce what is being taught.
6. As always, we ask that you make a brand new cookie design/set for this challenge.
7. And because Cookie Connection is all about learning and sharing, please tell us in your comments the techniques and media that you used and what you learned along the way.
- Please post an image of your entry to the site under the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set no later than February 27, 2022 at 5 pm central.
- Because these challenges are ongoing, we ask that you put "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #50" 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. Multiple clips of the same entry are not allowed unless added in a comment beneath the one primary clip.
The prizes are given entirely at random. This means that everyone who participates in this challenge has an opportunity to be rewarded with one of two tickets to The Bake Fest.
After the challenge has closed on February 27, we will announce the random winner in the Saturday Spotlight on March 5. The next challenge will be announced about a week after that Spotlight.
And, remember, these challenges are NOT a competition. They are intended to inspire and motivate you to step outside of your comfort zone, to experiment and be creative, and to try something new. The goal is for you to challenge yourself artistically and technically, and to develop your skills so that you may reach your full potential as a cookie artist. And, of course, the goal is for you to have fun along the way.
I can't wait to see what you create. If you have any questions about this challenge, or if you are looking for ideas, technical advice, or creative help - or if you just want to talk cookies - I would love to chat. You can leave me a comment below, or you can send me a private Cookie Connection message.
Christine Dutcher's journey as a cookier began in early 2013 when an online search led her to the amazing world of cookie decorating. After spending countless hours learning all that she could, Christine decorated her first set of cookies in October 2013. In 2016, she decided that she would begin to focus on perfecting her skills, challenging herself each time to create more detailed and progressively complex pieces of cookie art. In 2019, Christine became one of the very first sugar artists from around the world to be named as an "Honourary PME Five Star Sugar Artist" by Knightsbridge PME. You can learn more about Christine's work here on Cookie Connection, and by following her Facebook and Instagram pages.
Photo credit: Christine Dutcher
Note: Practice Bakes Perfect is a bimonthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Christine Dutcher 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.