Ho, ho, ho! How are everyone's holidays going?! I must say I am busy and joyful. Although, honestly, right now, I am mostly very busy, and waiting for a little downtime for more of the joyful to kick in. Which, brings me to my first point - THANK YOU to everyone who participated in this challenge. It spanned some of the busiest cookie times of the year, and yet we had a HUGE number of participants. You guys, you make me proud.
The thing I think I love most about these challenges is watching all of the creativity and innovation that flows through each and every entry. I also have to admit that, selfishly, I get to learn from YOUR trials and errors. Though, in reality, I hope we are all learning a trick or two from each other!
The wet-on-wet technique is one of those things that sounds easy, but as many of you found, is a bit harder than it looks. There are so many variables that go into creating a wet-on-wet cookie success. Throughout the course of the challenge, it became clear that certain things are critical to the outcome of a wet-on-wet cookie project. As @Manu so smartly put it: "In my opinion, a good design, a good step-by-step plan, and a lucky combination of temperature, humidity, and icing consistency are the keys to wet on wet." It sounds easy enough, but as we all learn the hard way, these factors change day by day, and sometimes hour by hour. So really, when working on a wet-on-wet project, one has to constantly reassess all of the above conditions. Something that turns out a complete success one day, may be a complete flop the next, so never be discouraged if your first (or even fifth!) attempt at a particular design looks like it belongs on "Nailed It!". Seriously, it happens to the best of us. All that said, I think the entries for this challenge were spectacular, and so without further ado, let's talk about our Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #31 prize winner and our spotlighted artists!
And the winner of the challenge, who was chosen at random from among all of the entrants, is . . . @Joanna Manuel! Congratulations, Joanna! If I am correct, I think this is the first Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge that Joanna has ever entered! Joanna's entry was a bold attempt at wet-on-wet lettering:
Smile by Joanna Manuel
I hope that this is just the first of many challenges that you enter, Joanna! We can't wait to see what you create with the supplies you buy with your gift certificate! Congratulations again!
Now let's talk about our other spotlighted artists, shall we? In no particular order, here they are . . .
Goodbye, Sunny Autumn by PUDING FARMOur judges simply could not get over the incredible tiny details in this entry. These tiny details would be impressive in their own right, but to create these intricate scenes using the wet-on-wet technique is truly masterful. I encourage everyone to click on the @PUDING FARM link above this picture to see the bigger version, so you can really appreciate all of the fine details. You will be amazed!
Dimensional Stars by swissophie
Also in the category of masterful is this exquisite entry by @swissophie. As one of our judges put it: "I love the combination of techniques here and the sheer precision of the icing transfer structure rising out of the finely detailed wet-on-wet patterning [on the cookie]." Yes, folks, the 3-D stars on top of the cookie are carefully assembled royal icing transfers! All of the beautiful patterns on both the cookies and transfers are wet-on-wet designs. Truly amazing.
Holiday in Nature by Fernwood CookieYou all KNOW I would love this entry. I love the colors, the patterns, the subject matter (though maybe I would add a bird or two, haha!). However, what I and all of our judges were especially drawn to was how @Fernwood Cookie sanded the cookies with sugar to create an icy vintage Christmas card effect. I may be wrong, but none of us had seen anyone do this before on a set of cookies. I, for one, will definitely be trying this technique in the future!
Love, Top of Anything by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.Nobody tells a story in cookies like @Ryoko ~Cookie Ave., and this entry is a prime example. The idea of Santa leaving a letter filled with love in addition to so many wonderful presents is downright heartwarming. As Ryoko points out, the wet-on-wet technique is perfect for creating fire, and she demonstrates that expertly. In this entry, I also really like those angels hovering above the whole scene. The angel designs themselves are beautiful, and the use of the two tones of grey creates a lovely sense of dimension on an otherwise flat surface.
Aquarium Puzzle by Kanch J Clearly inspired by this challenge, @Kanch J submitted not one, not two, but SIX entries! This was one of our favorites. As one judge said, "I [could] see her enthusiasm growing and her technique improving entry after entry." This puzzle was a very ambitious all-wet-on-wet project. Each panel of the scene blends into the next flawlessly. The tiny details on all of the fish are terrific, and the marbling that was done to create those jellyfish is brilliant.
Gift Box for 2019 by Kanch JThis entry was another very ambitious one by @Kanch J. (Congratulations on having TWO spotlighted entries!) I loved the story of the trials that Kanch J encountered while trying to make this idea come to life. For instance, in an earlier attempt to make a round box, she tried to flood and decorate a curved cookie. I couldn't help but imagine all of that icing slowly (and then very quickly!) sliding right off! Take note: the wet-on-wet technique is not generally suitable for curved 3-D cookie creations. As you can tell, Kanch J definitely figured this out and then created this round cookie box by decorating a number of flat sections and assembling them in a circle. Overall, this design is delightful, and the colors are very festive.
Solar System by Annelise (Le bois meslé)One of our judges dubbed this entry "witty and colorful!", and I could not agree more. In addition to the delightfulness of this entry, we learned that @Annelise (Le bois meslé) created this entry with her daughter. I really like the use of wet-on-wet royal icing transfers. It was a great way to give these cookies dimension and make those cute little planets stand out.
Butterfly Cookies for a Girl's Fourth Birthday by AnyaSTo me, the wet-on-wet technique always seems like an obvious choice for butterflies, and, yet, it is always one of the trickiest things to properly pull off. The symmetry and crispness of @AnyaS's wing patterns are impressive. I would love to see a huge set of these in every color of the rainbow!
Autumn by DraganaThe judges and I loved the vibrant colors of this entry by @Dragana. And, as one of those judges commented, "The cookies look painted, but [upon] closer look they are wet-on-wet [designs]." This painterly effect is especially evident in the acorns and mushrooms. I seriously had to zoom in on this photo to confirm they were in fact not painted!
Flower Motifs by Branka Vitman
I was quite drawn to these fairly simple, but well executed designs by @Branka Vitman. The rich colors pop against the white backgrounds, and the designs are crisp without a hint of feathering or bleeding. (And, while not a consideration for the challenge, I have to say that I think the packaging for these cookies is perfect.)
And with that, Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #31 comes to a close. Thanks again to the very many people who participated in this challenge, whether it was by submitting an entry or cheering on other people with your comments and likes. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season filled with friends, family, love, and good cheer. May there be cookies on every table. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
The next Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge will post on or around January 5, 2019.
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.