Cornelli Lace, and a Pretty Face …

Candy Egg

Candy egg with Cornelli Lace piping

(Ok, I know the lyric is “Chantilly Lace”, but I’m trying to be inventive.)

Last week I completed the first term of a cake decorating course for beginners. The predominant emotion throughout the seven weeks of the term was frustration, as I battled my own impatience at not being able to master everything immediately. Let’s just say, the road was a little bumpy, although by the end I was quite proud of my efforts.

The hot temperatures of the Perth Summer made it hard to combat modelling paste, fondant, candy icing, etc. drying out too quickly and causing the dreaded “elephant skin” look on surfaces that should have been  as smooth as a baby’s you-know-what. Then as the weeks went on tiredness, pelvis injuries and other life intrusions made it hard to keep up with the homework. My Ragdoll kitten sent me back to square one when she knocked all my sugar flowers for a cake project to the floor, causing every single one of them to smash into pieces. I spent a whole weekend re-making them all…

And don’t anyone ever mention the words “floppy flowers” to me again – it seems I have hot hands and little patience for floppiness as I never did succeed in creating one single floppy flower that didn’t look like a dog’s breakfast (so to speak). Actually I don’t think even a dog would have eaten my floppy flower disasters. I did in fact produce one flower in class that was halfway there, but then stupidly left it in the plastic container in which I transported it home, and true to name it became very floppy and had to be thrown away (fondant icing turns soft in airtight containers).

The pictured candy egg above is part of another project we did this term, which was an Easter plaque featuring a decorated candy egg and a sugar paste bunny. (I can’t help but wonder what the two lovely Muslim ladies in our group did with theirs!) My plaque is currently brightening our team’s work area at the office. Candy eggs are rather fun to make (eventually) but I can’t help but smile at the memories of disappointment we used to feel as children if ever a candy egg was received at Easter, instead of the expected chocolate ones traditionally given in Australia.

I say eventually,  because they too were a cause of frustration for me. Making the eggs before decorating them was a challenge as the pictures below show. Getting the egg halves off the moulds typically resulted in baggy, wrinkly, and let’s face it, ugly surfaces.

A not so smooth egg half

A not so smooth egg half.

And it was very difficult to cut the edges neatly when removing the overhanging excess.

Rough edges

Rough edges

Then, once dried, dropped or mishandled, the egg halves occasionally came to an unhappy end…

Broken egg

An unhappy (but tasty) end to this egg!

I am happy to say that while having another go at it at home, I did come up with some solutions to some of these frustrations. To whit: plastic food wrap placed over the moulds before laying on the rolled out candy icing made removal of the egg halves a breeze and therefore reduced the risk of stretched or wrinkled surfaces. And as for the rough cut edges, my teacher (who occasionally reads this blog – gulp!) would be horrified to know that I found it very effective to rub the edges of the dried halves on fine grain sandpaper(!). Obviously I wouldn’t do that if it was my intention that anyone would actually eat my Easter plaque.

Sadly I missed the class during which we were shown how to join the egg halves and decorate them, but I had a go at home using a bit of common sense and was quite pleased with the result (shown at the top of this post). The little decorative “brooch” in the centre of the egg was made with some modelling paste and a silicone mould, and the wiggly piping was my first attempt at the “Cornelli Lace” piping technique. There were some lessons learnt the hard way about spacing piped dot borders, and the nozzle size used for the Cornelli pattern (i.e. a finer nozzle would probably have been better for such a small surface area), but overall I was quite pleased with the attempt. Joining the two halves and piping over them to cover the join was made much easier thanks to my sandpaper caper. 🙂

On a side note, I made a (half-hearted) search on the internet and could not find an explanation of the origins of Cornelli Lace. I suspect it is a dressmaking or fabric-based term that has made its way into cake decorating, but if anyone can enlighten me…

This term we also learnt how to make various simple flowers, and were introduced to basic figure modelling. The latter involved making a bunny to go on the Easter plaque, and my first attempt featured ill-judged colour choices and an onion-shaped head that snapped off some weeks later during the kitten & smashed flowers incident mentioned earlier. I wasn’t particularly pleased with the cracks in the ears either, which were the result of the quick-drying effect of the fore-mentioned hot weather.

First bunny figure

Bunny #1

I was rather more pleased with Bunny #2, despite accidentally smudging black food colour on his stomach.

Bunny #2

Bunny #2

I’ve just noticed my injudicious placement of an Eriostemon flower, as if protecting his modesty. I might need to add a few more around his feet to reduce the effect!

And the end result…

Easter plaque

The finished Easter plaque

… complete with M & Ms Speckled Eggs…

Side view of plaque

Side view

.. and hand made Daisies, Eriostemon, and Ivy leaves.

Eriostemon flowers

Eriostemon flowers

Daisies

Daisies

Secretly, I’m rather pleased with the whole.

And now for the pretty face of the title, who was also the culprit in the flower-smashing incident – my young Ragdoll called Audrey. Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth…

Ragdoll cat called Audrey

Audrey

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3 thoughts on “Cornelli Lace, and a Pretty Face …

  1. A beautiful plaque for my beautiful student, well done I love it. Can’t wait to see your sugar creations this term and your cornelli piping is excellent. P.s. Keep Audrey away from this weeks project. See you next week.xx Tammy

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