Happy holidays! I hope everyone has been having a festive, or even restful, couple of weeks. And if you've had more than your fill of quality time with aunts, uncles, and cousins, just sneak away to the quiet, joyful refuge of Cookie Connection, where you can scroll beautiful cookie pictures in your pj's while dunking those extra holiday cookies into your hot cocoa with ZERO judgment from me!
As ever, I was delighted by all of the incredibly creative and inspiring entries that were submitted to Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #37. From amniotic fluid to tea, and from oceans to raindrops, you presented entries that truly highlighted all of the awesome and magical properties of water (and cookie art!).
Before we get to our spotlighted entries, I would like to reveal the winner of the fabulous prize for this challenge! That one lucky winner, who was chosen entirely at random from among all of the entrants, will receive a $100 gift certificate to Creative Cookier, donated by Cookie Connection founder, @Julia M. Usher. Recall, Creative Cookier is the genius-company behind the Stencil Genie and other stenciling and airbrushing products. Ginny and Doug Levack, Creative Cookiers' owners, also sell their own lines of meringue powder and gel and airbrush colorings, and are all-around great people with great customer service!
And our winner is . . . @Petra Florean! CONGRATULATIONS, Petra! Petra broke all prior Practice Bakes Perfect records by submitting a whopping 15 entries! Across her many, many entries, Petra used media such as isomalt, corn syrup, glucose syrup, wafer paper, gelatin sheets, fondant, and royal icing to create water. Petra created a lot of incredible watery scenes, but, by far, the most intriguing and unique of her entries was this one . . .
Embryo Inside Woman's Belly by Petra FloreanWhat could be more evocative of the phrase "water equals life" than an embryo in amniotic fluid? To say that this was a creative spin on our challenge's water theme is an understatement. In this entry, Petra used clear gelatin to create her amniotic fluid. The effect is amazingly realistic.
Petra had other entries that I would like to spotlight, so let's get to the rest of our spotlighted entries and artists, which I will now present to you in no particular order . . .
Aquarium, Whale Shark, and a Boy by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.
This entry by @Ryoko ~Cookie Ave. is pure cookie magic. It all begins with an absolutely delightful scene involving a little boy and the friendliest looking shark I have ever seen. (The perspective with which the boy and shark are made is a fantastic example of those perspective skills we acquired in Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #36!) But then we get to the piéce de résistance: that water in the shark tank. To create the incredible illusion of depth here, Ryoko made four separate, framed layers of isomalt stacked one atop the other. Each layer has a different texture and/or color. The lowest layer has different shades of blue covering piped royal icing rocks, coral, and tiny sardines; the next layer is clear with air bubbles; the next layer has waves; and the last layer is the clear glass of the shark tank. The shark sits below the tank glass layer, with the boy placed above that layer. The amount of planning and the sheer amount of time it must have taken to execute this entry are staggering. And while I have tried to describe the component parts and process of this entry in detail, I strongly encourage everyone to check out Ryoko's comments to her entry where she explains step-by-step, with photos, how she created this masterpiece.
A Fish Out of Water! by Kim Damon
In this entry, @Kim Damon used molded and painted fondant to create her river water. Our judges agreed that the modeled and carefully layered fondant water ripples create a dynamic sense of motion. The rich shades of grey contrasted by the white splash only add to that dynamic effect. And that perfectly painted trout, with an almost startled look as he pops out of the water, really completes this scene. As one of our judges commented, "This is a compelling piece of sugar art."
Deep Blueness by PUDING FARM
This overarching sentiment comes from one of my fellow judges, but I agree 100 percent: "I love this cookie - the moody blues and the perfect little whale. It's so unexpected. It takes a deft hand to make something as hard and brittle as [royal] icing appear as fluid as crashing waves." I will add that you should really take a look at the process photos in the comments to this entry, because the overhead view presented here does not remotely reveal the complexity, depth, and layers of this entry. You will be surprised and impressed!
Mini Goldfish Pond by Icingsugarkeks
First, I must say that I am in awe of the scale of this entry by @Icingsugarkeks. The base cookie is only 5 centimeters in diameter! And those teeny tiny koi are only millimeters long, but the detail is incredible. The water aspect of this entry is equally impressive. The gray and white painted rocks that form the pond bottom give the isomalt "water" a really enchanting swirled effect. And to cap it off, I love how the water gradually recedes into the mossy pond's edge. Great things do come in small packages!
Turn Off the Faucet! by Kim Damon
Our judges were impressed by the gravity-defying engineering that went into the construction of this second spotlighted entry by @Kim Damon. Despite one setback after another, Kim persisted, and was able to get that faucet to sit atop that mound of royal icing water, which she painstakingly piped and dried, layer after layer.
Last Breath by Petra Florean
The somber subject of this entry aside, this piece is another remarkable feat by @Petra Florean. The sugar paste waves create a real sense of menacing depth, as do the varying shades of blue and the ruffled white water splashes placed near and around the hand. That hand popping out from the center also does a great job of creating perspective (another flashback to Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #36!).
Loo by radicaledward
I must admit that this entry was a bit, shall we say, unexpected. I give @radicaledward bonus points for creativity here, as I can honestly say I have never seen a toilet cookie. That said, I was pretty impressed with how radicaledward made his own sugar syrup, perfecting the cooking time from one batch to the next. His final act of bravery in this entry was his attempt to create a wet-on-wet eddy with his homemade sugar syrup - an attempt that I would say was quite successful. Let's hear it for taking healthy risks!
Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head! by Kim Damon
So much of my own cookie art involves detailed research into the subject that I am cookifying. And so, I was thrilled when I saw this entry by Kim Damon. Kim researched the nature of water drops and created the shape to reflect the state of water as it falls from a surface. As Kim notes, the classic teardrop shape only lasts a fraction of a second, and as soon as the water leaves the surface, it reforms into a sphere. The beautiful colors of Kim's drops represent the reflection of the colors of surrounding objects in the water. Finally, I want to point out how clever it was to paint these drops with watercolors! [AUTHOR'S NOTE: Kim made a total of four entries for this challenge, three of which have been spotlighted in this recap. Congratulations, Kim!]
Waterfall by Dani Matos
The thing about this entry is: it takes the standard blue-flooded cookie with brush embroidery waves to the next level by adding the isomalt layer. I was impressed with how @Dani Matos created so much depth with what is essentially just two rectangular cookies. All of the other details - such as the rocks, the moss, and the flowers - really contribute to the whole dreamy scene. The only thing this entry is missing is a fairy or unicorn peeking out from under the waterfall!
And with that, Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #37 is a wrap. Thank you all for what was, yet again, another journey of inspiration and learning. I swear that, at the end of each challenge (and this one is no exception), I could write a book about all the things I/we have learned from the entries, and then from everybody's comments on the entries. So, THANK YOU for being a big part of my own cookie education.
Our next challenge will post in about a week, on or around January 5, 2020. I hope you all will join us!
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.