Hi, everyone! Welcome to a new Watch-Learn-Create challenge! The theme for our 54th challenge is piped flower bouquets, and award-winning Ganna (aka Anna) Oliinyk of @Anna_Sunday_Cookers is our featured guest.
In 2022, Anna earned a silver medal in the 3-D Cookie/Advanced-Master division of Julia M. Usher’s Cookie Art Competition™, and in this year's competition, she walked home in first place with a gold medal in the same category. In both editions, Anna’s entries received the Kerry Vincent Best in Show Award, given to the one entry across all categories/classifications that, per Julia, "best demonstrated impeccable skill, attention to detail, design innovation or aptitude, and/or high style – all hallmarks of Kerry Vincent’s legendary designs." Below, you'll see Anna's winning entries.
Anna is from Ukraine and currently resides in San Antonio, Texas where she runs Sunday Cookers with her husband Konstantine. Anna designs and decorates the cookies while Konstantine takes care of the baking, delivery, content creation, and Etsy shop. Take a look at their Instagram feed, and you will get lost in the great variety of realistic flower cookies and bouquets arranged with great taste. I have highlighted some of them in the collage below.
Originally piped on flat gingerbread bases, Anna's flowers were quite popular as soon as she started offering them, but she quickly realized that creating more lifelike bouquets required that the underlying cookies be curved or have some volume, and that the flowers be presented at different stages of blooming. The various 3-D shapes and stages of Anna's flowers, her color choices, and her great eye for composition are all elements that make Sunday Cookers’ bouquets so wonderful and unique. They truly pass for the real thing!
In Anna's kickoff demo, she shows us how to create three realistic cornflower cookies, each piped on a dimensional cookie and at a different stages of blooming (full-bloom, half-bloom, and bud). Again, it's this focus on different stages and volume that defines Anna’s signature style.
And now, let’s watch Anna’s demo together, but first . . .
Important: Anna's video was recorded exclusively for Cookie Connection for the sole purpose of helping Cookie Connection challenge participants develop their skills and apply those skills to this challenge and future projects of their own design. This video recording, and the content contained therein, cannot be used as material for cookie classes, for purposes of financial gain, or for any other purpose than stated above without obtaining written permission from Anna in advance. Thank you!
As already happened with the past challenge tutorials, Anna’s demo turned into a full-blown cookie class, rich with so much valuable information. I know from our recent challenge survey that shorter demos seem to be preferred, but real-time piping takes time. Rather than edit out important content in the original video and add time-lapsed parts (of which we see plenty on the internet), I thought you’d appreciate seeing Anna's techniques in actual time, and the ability to fast-forward the video at your own convenience. [EDITOR'S NOTE: While on the subject of the survey, I will add that I am still processing the results, but based on what I've seen so far, I anticipate making some changes to these challenges to improve the experience for guests and participants. Those changes will likely roll out at the time of the next challenge. Now, back to Manu! ~JMU]
To help you quickly locate content in Anna's video, I've included a video "outline" with timestamps below.
Video Timestamps for Easy Navigation:
- 00:00:00: Manu introduces featured guest Anna Oliinyk of Sunday Cookers
- 00:02:46: Anna discusses her approach to flower cookies and bouquets
- 00:08:14: Anna overviews her tutorial project (cornflowers in three stages of blooming)
- 00:08:55: Demo starts with discussion of cookie shapes
- 00:12:00: Discussion of royal icing consistencies and colors
- 00:17:28: Piping full-bloom cornflower
- 00:32:17: Piping half-bloom cornflower
- 00:38:40: Piping cornflower bud
- 00:41:28: Airbrushing cornflower cookies
- 00:48:13: Alternatives for those who don’t have airbrushes
- 00:51:20: Adding leaves to half-bloom cornflower
- 00:58:33: Adding leaves to cornflower bud
- 01:04:00: Adding final icing details to flowers
- 01:12:25: Airbrushing leaves
- 01:15:25: Assembling a cookie bouquet
- 01:22:40: Demo ends/Manu describes the challenge and prizes
- 01:28:47: Video ends
Remember, this challenge (like all of our challenges) is open to those of all skill levels because it is not a cookie competition; it is a learning experience and chance to practice new techniques and to connect with other participants and Anna.
For this challenge, I leave you with essentially three simple rules and the freedom to create as you wish:
- Your entry must consist of at least three (3) cookie flowers on sticks arranged in a bouquet. You can create any flower type you like, including the cornflowers in Anna's demo, but I would like you to apply Anna's techniques to give volume to your flowers and to represent them in different stages of blooming. You can also use any cookie dough for the base of your flowers, in any shape, modeled or molded with tools or simply with your hands.
- I also ask that you share comments under your entry that explain your process, what inspired you, and any tips that will help your fellow cookiers learn and grow.
And, that's it!
Optional Ideas: Now, if you want to get fancier (which, again, is purely optional), your bouquet can include some cookies on sticks that are not piped flowers, as Anna often does, such as ones in the shape of greenery, fruits, and/or vegetables. You can also include a single small cookie that might be a tag, plaque, insect, or other personal touch. Your call!
As usual, each entrant is eligible to participate in the random drawing that will determine this challenge's prize winners. (Yes, there will be two winners this time!) I encourage multiple entries because the more times you enter, the greater your chances of winning - and the prizes are wonderful as always!
Let's talk about the first of our prizes! Anna is giving away "Flowers of Ukraine", one of her prerecorded online classes where you can learn how to pipe more flowers and complete the vibrant bouquet you see in the picture below. You can read more about Anna's "Flowers of Ukraine" class here. How terrific is this?! I can't be more grateful to Anna and Sunday Cookers for spending time with us, showcasing their techniques, and offering this prize!
The surprises are not over though, because there's that second prize I mentioned. It's offered by Julia M. Usher, founder and host of Cookie Connection, and she calls it the "Incredible Wilton Goody Box" for reasons that will soon become quite obvious.
Part of Julia’s bounty for being an instructor at The Bake Fest, this box is valued at over $200 and is replete with all sorts of Wilton’s latest baking and decorating items, including colorings, sparkle gels, charming cupcake liners, silicone molds, sprinkles galore, and more. Julia will ship this box at her expense to one randomly drawn winner located in the United States. Julia, thank you so much for providing this awesome forum for these challenges, and for always thinking of ways to fulfill Cookie Connection's mission to help the community "learn, share, and celebrate the art of cookie decorating."
- If you have any questions for Anna as you are developing your entry, that's great! We encourage questions and learning at every step of the process. Please enter all questions in the comments area under this post, so that everyone can benefit from the Q&A. And please tag @Anna_Sunday_Cookers so she is sure to see your question and respond in a timely way. Anna also provided a resource list that you can find attached at the end of this post.
- Please post an image of your cookie project to the site under the Cookie Connection Challenge clip set no later than July 23, 2023 at 5 pm central time. (Yes, we are giving you lots and lots of time to create - nine weeks!)
- Because these challenges will be ongoing, we ask that you put "Watch-Learn-Create Challenge #54" in your photo caption (subtitle field) AND in a tag, so we can tell the challenges apart from month to month. Please use the 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. (Don't use just the Cookie Connection Challenge 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.
On July 30, in our weekly Saturday Spotlight, I will reveal the 10 top-trending entries (as determined automatically by our site-trending algorithms*) as well as the randomly drawn prize winners. The next challenge will be announced soon after this challenge has closed. *Note: The site algorithms use members' collective likes, comments, and reactions to each entry to determine our Spotlightees.
If you are new to Cookie Connection and need help posting your entry, please let me know and I’ll be happy to help you.
We can’t wait to see the home page in bloom with all of your entries!
Ciao, Manu (and Anna)