Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Play Dough!

I made this lovely play dough from this recipe over at Cooks.com. There are easily a hundred different play clay recipes there, but this one was similar to an old one that I had tried before and really liked, but no longer had a copy of (isn't that always the way?).

It's a cooked corn starch salt dough, with a little oil for consistency and to help prevent sticking. This version has you color AFTER cooking.

I made a few small changes, of course, because I'm one of those cooks, and I can never leave anything alone. Here's how I did it, based on this classic recipe.

First, measure out the cornstarch and salt. Do not pack the cornstarch down or you'll need more water! Then put the dry ingredients in your pot and mix well. Next measure your water and oil. Drizzle your water in and stir with a narrow spoon or silicone mixing spatula. Keep going until all the water is incorporated. it'll get kind of hard to stir, which is normal for cornstarch. It'll also be kind of gritty. That's the salt. That's normal too.

NOTE: I omitted the shortening and wintergreen oil and just used salad oil. One tablespoon goes in the pot, the rest is kneaded in later. Add the oil and mix it in a little, then turn on the heat. A medium-low burner is best, and it has to be stirred constantly until it's all cooked. It will get harder to do, and you have to keep scraping the bottom and sides of the pan (remember that spatula? You really need one for this part)or you risk scorching to uneven cooking of your dough. It'll get lumpy, mushy and translucent. Eventually almost all of it will be cooked, and then turn off the heat and just keep stirring it around the pan until any opaque or runny spots start to blend with the rest.

At this point, cover it tightly - a plate is fine if your chosen pot has no lid - and let it sit until it's cool, about an hour. Don't refrigerate it.

Take it out of the pan and knead it in a medium sized salad bowl to work out any lumps that have occurred, slowly adding the remaining oil. You can drizzle in a little more oil or a little water as needed if it's dry or crumbly, but remember that coloring will add moisture too and don't go overboard! Keep kneading it until it's nice and smooth, then divide it up into as many hunks as you want colors and put each into a ziplock bag.

You can either color it now, or let it sit overnight and color it in the morning. I used washable tempera paints to color mine. To do that, put a couple squirts of paint into each bag, seal, and knead until mixed. Add more paint until you like the color, but remember that the more intense the color, the more likely the dough is to stain, even with a washable pigment color. My bags took three double squirts for red, three for blue and two for yellow and they are relatively non-staining.

Store in plastic bags in a cool place.

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