Ever made home made play dough? If not, you really should try it. In my humble opinion, it is WAY better than store bought and my kids agree.
Last week I was teaching on the escape from Egypt and the plagues. I got out the play dough set and we made flies with the play dough bug set Sweetie bought. I have never seen play dough go “slimy” but this stuff was gross. I finally gave up and threw it away. As a child, I always preferred homemade play dough anyhow so I decided to make some. I went through my craft books and online and found several variations. Most of them have the same basic ingredients but all in different measurements. What was better? I decided to try several recipes and just see for future reference. Following is a list of my tests. J If you consider yourself an expert in homemade play dough, here is what I am looking for :
- Nice scent
- Nice color
- No refrigeration – I want it to last a few months in an air tight container
- No salt residue on hands
- No grime on hands when you rub them together
- Not sticky or leaving any amount of play dough residue
- Easy to mold
Chocolate Play Dough
2 cups water
½ cup salt
2 T vegetable oil
2 T cream of tartar
1/3 cup cocoa
3 cups flour
Bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in remaining ingredients. Allow to cool slightly. Knead until smooth. Allow to cool and store in an air tight container.
When I first tried to mix it in the pot I thought we were headed for disaster as it seemed WAY TOO dry. When I put it on wax paper to knead it, I thought I would never get the flour kneaded in it and almost threw it away. (It firmed to a ball so fast in the pot, all the dry ingredients had not been thoroughly mixed in yet). Then the magic happened. As I kneaded and kneaded it turned into a beautiful rich brown with a nice chocolatey smell. It turned out to be, by far, the firmest dough. The best part about this dough is that it didn’t leave ANY residue on my hands and NO gritty salt leftover that irritates. It will be the cleanest for pickup as it is not nearly as “adhesive” as the rest. The recipe makes a 4 cup batch and the measurements to split it are awkward. This large of a recipe is hard to handle in the pot. Unfortunately though, it is not a “smooth” dough because of its dryness. Tanner really liked it and liked the “feel of it” but I got frustrated with the pliability of it. It takes a lot of kneading to get it nice and you have to reknead everytime you use it. I have a polymer clay “pasta maker” that flattens clay and this dough was way too dry to flatten into a smooth sheet. *Notice in the pictures above the cracks in this play dough? I couldn’t get it smooth for anything.
Would I make it again? Maybe. I think it would work well for building houses or walls or something that requires more firm mass. And….Tanner liked it. J
Pumpkin Play Dough
1 cup flour
½ cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar (I used T not tsp)
1 cup water
1 tsp vegetable oil
Lots of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, whatever
Mix the dry ingredients. Mix water and oil together first and then add dry ingredients and stir. Cook for two to three minutes until dough starts pulling away from the sides and clumping together. Take the dough out of the pan and knead the dough until it becomes soft and smooth. Allow to cool and store in an air tight container.
This recipe has less flour, less oil, more salt, and less cream of tartar then the chocolate recipe. It also called for 1 teaspoon of oil and I changed it to 1 tablespoon. I don’t know if that was a mistake or not but all the other recipes require 1 tablespoon so I don’t know what would have happened if I would have only used a teaspoon.
I mixed cinnamon oil and cinnamon, cloves and pumpkin spice into this. It has a nice smell to it but my oils are getting old and I wonder if that makes for a less significant smell. Wasn’t as strong as I hoped. The boys actually didn’t care for the smell of this one. This recipe seemed much less dry and moderately firm. I dyed it orange. I liked the pliability okay but it did leave a salt residue on my hands. It worked better through the pasta maker but still pretty bad. *Notice in the picture that it looks smoother but the star is “pitted” with texture.
Play Dough Tip: Always put the food coloring in the water before stirring. This is MUCH easier than kneading the color in and it comes out VERY beautiful and even.
Would I make this dough again? No
Perfect Play Dough
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 cups water
2 T baby oil
2 T cream of tartar
Liquid food coloring
Combine dry ingredients. Add water and oil. Stir well. Microwave on high 4 to 5 minutes. Stir again. Microwave another minute. Stir. Continue to microwave one minute, then stir, until dough is the consistency of mashed potatoes. Cool it enough to touch. Knead. Allow to cool and store in an air tight container.
I don’t think I agree. I don’t know if there is a difference between the baby oil and vegetable oil. I couldn’t really tell. This recipe called for microwaving and that was a disaster. The play dough batter doesn’t get stirred well enough and two things happened. 1. I had clumps that were hardened into the batch. 2. The microwave burned all the thin portions that stuck to the upper edge of the glass bowl. Then when I put it on wax paper to knead it, it was just tooo sticky. I only microwaved it the first four minutes in a glass bowl and it was already mash potato consistency and starting to burn on the edges. Does my microwave just run hot I wonder?
I tried the recipe again but this time used the stove directions just like all the above and it came out very nice. Say NO to microwaves I guessJ. This is a pretty soft dough but I could feel the salt in it. I don’t like those salt residues on my hands. I used neon food coloring which was fun and I used spearmint and clove oils to scent it. It also had more of a messy clean up – not terrible but more than I would care for. *Note in the picture that it is definitely smoother.
While I was taking pictures and not keeping my eye on Ty, he blended the colors for me. Lovely. Sigh….
Would I make this dough again? No. Too salty. BUT I would use the oils and the neon food coloring again and possibly the baby oil.
Strawberry Play Dough
1 cup flour
1 T veg oil
1 package un sweetened strawberry kool aid
¼ cup salt
2 T cream of tartar
1 cup water
Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar. Add water, oil, and kool aid. Stir over medium heat until mixture forms a ball (3 to 5 minutes). Knead until smooth. Allow to cool and store in an air tight container.
Here is what I loved about this dough:
- Using the kool aid scented the dough nicely. Not quite as strong as the oils but the fruity flavor was nice and Tanner and Ty loved it the best. Maybe mixing a complimentary fruit oil in would be nice. Very nice.
- Using the kool aid made for an easy way to dye the dough and the red color from the strawberry kool aid was quite dark. Very easy dye methodJ. Better than using 50 drops of red.
- It has less salt and didn’t leave much of a salt residue at all – yeah!
- Theoretically, a small package of sugar free jello can replace the kool aid and should provide more scent and color options.
- If I wanted to use the neon colors I could try leaving the aid/gelatin out and replace with color or add neon to the water to give it extra umph.
- It was wonderful in the pasta maker. Came out in a very smooth sheet and rolls very smooth as well. *Notice in the picture how smooth it is!
- The pliability was wonderful and therapeutic. Felt very nice to work with. VERY nice. Tanner and I both agreed it felt the best in your hands. So soft. It also held up well to the modeling test. (See the delicate rose I modeled – held up nicely for that little project).
The one drawback to this dough was that it is a tad messier. It was the only dough that left some residue in my wedding ring. (For the record though, I forgot to wash the ring off and I am looking at it now and it’s clean again so I guess it crumbles off easy enough when it dries).
I wonder if you used sugar free jello instead of kool aid if it would be a bit firmer? Reason being there is more powder volume in a small package of jello then in a packet of kool aid. The extra dry ingredient may change the recipe. Not sure.
I did some tests last night after I made the dough and retested again this morning and changed my mind on some things. Therefore, reserve judgment until play dough is 24 hours old because the cooling effect changes it a tad. Example, this recipe was stickier when it wasn’t 100% cooled and I didn’t think I would like it because of that. It wasn’t nearly as much of a problem today – in fact – it didn’t even stick to any of the cookie cutters!
As for how these recipes will stand the test of time? I guess I will have to get back to you on that. I read somewhere that play dough can be a germ magnet so you don’t want to keep it in large groups of kids long. Jim wanted to know why I was scenting them because it would entice Ty to eat it. He eats it anyhow so I have to watch him regardless. I used to eat so much play dough in Sunday School as a child I would come home throwing up. A proper investigation of the Sunday “flu” unveiled my secret obsession. Ty is not nearly as bad as I was. He doesn’t really eat it – he just tastes J. I like it scented because playing with play dough is strangely therapeutic for ME but I need it to have an aromatherapy quality to achieve the longed for result LOL.
Would I make this recipe again?
Absolutely! So far this is my favorite recipe!
And one more recipe to share….
One off my favorite EDIBLE doughs when I was young was Chocolate Chip Raisin Peanut Butter Balls. I don’t know the exact measurements because I just estimate everything until I get a consistency I like then I roll them into bite sized balls and refrigerate. They taste so good!
Peanut Butter (a cup maybe?)
Honey (1/2 cup or more?)
Dry Powdered Milk – enough to get the consistency right
Raisins to taste
Chocolate Chips to taste
Have fun in the kitchen and if you think you have a better recipe, please share! (Are you laughing at me? Be honest ).