Wednesday 26 September 2012

Making Playdough - either stovetop or microwave

Kids love playing with their food. There are times when it seems that they prefer food to be entertaining than tasty.  That is why making playdough is so satisfying.  Sylvia can play with it as much as she likes and I never have to convince her to eat it.  Ok, I admit I occasionally have to convince her not to eat it.  Kids!

I've now made a few batches of playdough for Sylvia.  We've made orange, purple, green and pink.  It is a great opportunity to use some of our food colouring that never seems that healthy in our food.  When it comes to play, bright colours are fun. 

Initially I made the playdough on the stovetop but lately I have been making it in the microwave.  It was so easy to make, that I wondered why I hadn't made it before.  Fortunately my mum has been making it for Sylvia for some time now, just as she made it for me when I was a little girl.

Sylvia loves playdough.  She often will make little things at her kiddie table.  She loves to fill little containers with playdough, she rolls long sausages of playdough, and she makes little morsels of food that end up in her toy frypan and cupcake holders and plastic cups.  She particularly loves to put little things into it.  At one stage her playdough was full of googly eyes that we had bought for craft.  I seem to spend my life putting the playdough away with a lid on it so that it wont dry out.

My mum made some and put hers in a tub that she had bought goats cheese in.  The other day in the supermarket Sylvia was running around with a tub of goats cheese insisting it was playdough.  I've bought some clear containers for Sylvia's playdough.  This is useful now that we have a few different colours.

Today I was in a shop and looked at a 570g set of 4 pots of playdough.  It cost $20.  I haven't calculated the cost of making playdough at home.  Yet I am sure it is far cheaper.  (And I am finally finding a use for my cream of tartar.)  The website where I found this suggested using this for party bags.  A great idea.  What kid doesn't love playdough!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: WHB Raspberry Yoghurt Cake
Two years ago: Rice Noodles with Orange
Three years ago: Champion Crackers and Footy Food

From adelyn Stone

1 cup plain white flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup table salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp cream of tarter
about 3-4 capfuls of food colouring

To make on the stovetop:

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a medium saucepan.  The colour will be darker once the mixture is cooked.  It will be quite thin.  When we made the orange batch the mixture looked like tomato soup.

2. Heat over medium heat.  Stir constantly because it will stick to the bottom of the saucepan.  You will need a strong stirring arm as it cooks.  Keep stirring in the looser mixture at the top until the mixture is quite thick. 

3. Transfer onto a board once it comes together into an ugly blob. Knead until smooth.  The first time I did this, I had to knead in some flour because it was a bit sticky.  The next time I let it get a little drier.  It will be quite soft when kneading the warm dough.  As it cools down, the playdough will firm up a bit.

4. Keep in an airtight container.  The huge amount of salt will keep it for a long time, so long as it doesn't dry out.

To make in the microwave:

Follow part 1 of the instructions for Making on the Stovetop, but put ingredients together in a medium microwave-proof bowl.

Microwave for about 6 minutes (my microwave is not very powerful so if your microwave is more powerful you may need less time).  I stirred mine after 2 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes, 5 1/2 minutes and by 6 minutes I was too impatient to wait longer.  It needs a good stir regularly as it cooks around the edges far quicker than in the middle.  I found it harder in the microwave to guess when it was ready so I timed it the second time I did this.

Update: a fun variation is to add glitter - here is an example of glitter playdough.

On the stereo:
Way to Blue: an introduction to Nick Drake


  1. Wow, your playdough colors are vibrant.

    1. Thanks Bliss - I was quite pleased with them - and even a little surprised at how bright they are

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Cakelaw - it is a monster - didn't it scare you :-) Or maybe an octopus monster :-)

  3. I will have to try this recipe for playdough, the one we make is a little to the colours you made!

    1. Thanks Kate - good luck with the recipe - I have found that leaving it to cook that little longer (or kneading in a little extra dough) helps if it is too soft. This one has lasted quite well. And I love being able to add all the colours!

    2. Have been meaning to tell you that Sylvia's preschool are now using your playdough recipe after I introduced them to it :)

    3. Thanks Kate - glad it is working for them - we make it from time to time - I was speaking to a friend who have given her recipe to a playgroup and I think she used twice as much salt and interestingly said that not only does the salt preserve but it is also anti bacterial

  4. I have found memories of making playdough as a child, and as an adult when I was looking after a room full of kids! Quick, easy and entertaining. Love how bright the colours are.

    1. Thanks chele - I don't know if I ever helped make playdough as a kid but I remember my mum making it for us. Looking after a room full of kids seems challenging

  5. You could make so many awesome colours too! And I meant to ask, how is Sylvia coping with not having Dolly around? Is she ok :)

    1. It is so much fun to play with playdough - and unlike icing you don't feel you have to eat it :-)

      Sylvia is very sad without dolly - we have a new dolly ordered and hope she will bring some comfort

  6. You wrote "It needs a good stir regularly as it cools around the edges far quicker than in the middle." Don't you mean "cooks around the edges"?

  7. My mother made play dough for me and I have such fond memories of it, both the making and the playing. It makes me sad to see the small sterile jars sold in shops. Homemade is definitely better - and your colours are better too!

    1. Thanks Kari - it amused me when we got a jar of playdough and sylvia was sure my mum had made it. But I agree there is nothing like the feel of soft fresh home made playdough


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