Spiced Salt Dough Decorations

I was originally going to do a post showing you some wonderful origami shapes you can do to make paper napkins look decorate at the Christmas dinner table, but then I realised I was still a Christmas present short for my grandparents!  At this point I searched Pinterest and discovered some wonderful recipes for cinnamon and apple dough ornaments that would make lovely presents.  I picked up the laptop, put on the Christmas music and prepared to start making some ornaments…

At this point I realised that I just didn’t have enough cinnamon for most of these recipes.  I didn’t want to do a plain simple salt dough…so I decided to get creative!  I present to you my mixed spice salt dough ornaments!

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I’m using cups as my measurement today because my bread maker came with some wonderful cups that measure only in cups…and they are convenient measurements…so cups it is!  You can convert this into whatever quantities you want!

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup mixed spice (or selection of spices of your choice that adds up to 1/2 a cup)
  • approx 3/4 – 1 cup warm water (for some reason it binds better when its warm!)

Optional extras:

  • Cookie/pastry cutters
  • Rolling pin
  • Straw
  • Evergreen leaves (I used some leylandi – they come in useful once in a blue moon!)

Step 1 – Make the dough

Mix the flour, salt and mixed spice together in a bowl.  Add the water slowly, mixing with a spoon or your hands.  You want to stop when the dough binds together and you can use your hands to mould it into a smooth ball without getting loads on your fingers.  If its too wet, add a little more flour and knead it in well.  If its too dry add a tiny amount of warm water.  I forgot about taking any photos until I reached the point of having it in a convenient ball (after making several ornaments as well!).

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Step 2 – Roll it out and make your ornaments!

Roll it out on a surface!  If its the right consistency you shouldn’t need to flour your work surface, but if it does stick, just knead a little more flour in to the dough.

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If you want to be fancy and decorate them with an imprint of an evergreen leaf, then lay your leaf onto the top the dough and use your rolling pin to squidge it in.  If not, just use your cookie cutters and cut some simple shapes out.

Then carefully peel it up and admire your lovely imprint!  Use your cookie cutter to cut out an ornament making sure you get the nicest parts of the imprint.

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To make the hole, I find a drinking straw works really well!  (But you might have to squidge some dough out of it every few holes you make!)

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The dough is happy with being kneaded back up into a ball several times, but like the rules of biscuit baking, try not to handle the dough too much, you don’t want it to dry out and go all crumbly on you!

Step 3 – Drying them out

There are a variety of ways you can dry them.  The simplest is to air dry them.  Downside?  This can take days!  The method I’m using today is putting them in my herb drier (which is basically just a dehydrator) because I want them to be done quickly so I can seal them.  Traditionally you oven bake salt dough on a really low temperature and try hard not to burn them!  I’ve also seen online somewhere (I forget now) of a recipe that allows you to microwave them too!  But personally I’d recommend air-drying to be sure they won’t break.

After about 5 hours in the herb drier they were nice and hard.  I’ll also be leaving them overnight before attempting to decorate them, just to be sure!  They do go lighter in colour when they dry – they also look a lot like biscuits but please don’t try to eat them, I promise they’ll taste disgusting…unless you like large amounts of salt.

Important things to remember if you’re oven drying – don’t have the oven too hot and don’t use self-raising flour.  If you do, then the mixture will bubble and you’ll have some odd looking ornaments!  I haven’t tested this recently with photos to prove this, but I remember it happening when I was a child.

Step 4 – Decorating them

So that these hopefully last many years I like to cover them in a good layer of PVA glue (the clear drying variety!).  You don’t have to do this, but it does make them nice and shiny!  If you want to paint them, then do it before you add the glue, but make sure they are properly dried first!  You can cover it with glue after you’ve painted them to make them nice and shiny too.

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I don’t have any pictures of them all finished up yet because they’re still drying, but I promise to update this post with some pictures when I have them!

Finally, thread some ribbon, string or thread through the hole and hang up your ornaments, or wrap them up and give them as gifts and enjoy them!  I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.  I’ll be taking a week off from this blog next week to recharge my batteries and spend some quality time with both sets of family so I’ll see you in a couple of weeks!

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