Someone wrote asking about recipes for dough ornaments. My mom has lots of well preserved dough ornaments on our tree each year so I asked her. She sent back this, everything I ever wanted to know:
I have several recipes, but haven’t yet found the one for cinnamon, allspice and ginger dough that Aunt R used for little spice ornament miniatures for a small tree. I think all she did was add applesauce to the ground spice until it was the consistency of stiff pie crust dough, roll it out and cut it with cookie cutters (mini-sized ones). She poked a hole in the top to put a string and let air dry until completely stiff. I’ll try this out this weekend and see if I can come up with actual measurements and drying time. Maybe the microwave would speed the process as well. This recipe doesn’t require coating the ornament, but it should be stored in a dry place.
Some folks make gingerbread dough extra stiff, cook it extra hard and treat it like a “baker’s clay” for ornaments. It would need to be coated with shellac or varnish to keep out moisture.
Following recipe is safe for kids, but they probably wouldn’t eat it — too salty! [ note: this never stopped me! ]
This recipe was in the preschool cookbook that we parents put together at the cooperative preschool your brother attended [ note: my parent's were a bit hippish before I came along ] when he was 3 years old. I used it quite a bit for ornaments years ago, but haven’t used it lately. I believe several of us parents submitted the same recipe, since it didn’t have a name with it. Most of the recipes are credited to a family who turned them in.
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups water
Mix and knead. If too stiff add water in small amounts until right consistency to work with.
Shape into figurenes.
Bake 1 hour in 300 degree oven or until hard. (Make sure oven temperature is accurate or use oven thermometer — these will brown if too hot.)
When cold, paint and decorate. (I used acrylic paints. Children can use tempera paints. You can also add paste food coloring to the dough.)
To preserve, spray with fixative or shellac, or use colorless nail polish.
Dough will keep moist in plastic bag until baked.
I have found that these ornaments only last in dry conditions, even when coated well with varnish or shellac. It’s difficult to get all the moisture out by baking unless they are thin. Thin ones can “warp” when baked.
Allow to dry thoroughly after painting and before coating, as the dough may absorb moisture from the paint, and disintegrate from the inside out.
Some that were given to me lasted several years, but when stored in the basement inside plastic bags started to disintegrate. If they’re precious to you, store them where moisture can’t get to them.
I’d suggest — If you want the ornaments to last “forever”, invest in real clay that can be fired in a kiln, or use a plastic clay that can be dried in a home oven.