Allergy Friendly Salt Play Dough
Katie Crafts with Casey!!! This is an awesome craft for your littles who need some motor skills work like my guy, and it makes unique keepsakes. Many of our children will be hybrid or fully remote learning this school year and this craft is a fun, SAFE way to pass an afternoon! I posted it on my Katie Bakes for Casey Instagram a few months ago and got some great responses!
Casey has been getting Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy since he was 4 weeks old due to a rare form of viral meningitis he contracted as a newborn. We almost lost him but thankfully, our boy is quite the fighter and has made amazing strides since! Casey is a big kid, the youngest of three boys, and looking at him you would never think he has any physical issues, but his motor skills are well behind. When Covid shut everything down here in New York in March we transferred to doing OT, PT and Speech via Teletherapy with his fantastic therapists. It was a massive struggle keeping his attention on the computer during sessions as he is a total livewire and constantly on the move.
His OT (love you Miss Ashley!) and I decided to go into the crafting route to get his hands messy AND working those muscles. Play Doh is a no no because of wheat so I tweaked my recipe for salt dough. Salt dough is an old school dough that is used for culinary showpieces. It’s not edible (SALT dough lol) but you can shape it any way, bake it low until dried and use it as display. I balanced the recipe for gluten free flour, but of course you can use all-purpose if you need to.
We made it and he had so much fun! I definitely helped make some of the shapes in the picture, but Casey was the art director telling me what he wanted! After baking low and slow, we painted it and even made a 2020 Christmas tree ornament. We have to commemorate this crazy year somehow!
This couldn’t be any easier and I hope you give it a try and have fun. Be well and safe! 💙
Ingredients and Substitutions
This is a “by feel” kind of recipe with proportions given as guidelines. Here are some notes and tips for the ingredients.
Wheat – I use gluten free flour but any all-purpose blend will do fine. You’re not looking for any gluten development here, so xanthan gum is not necessary. Bread flour is not recommended as it will become too gluey from the higher protein content (hence more gluten development).
Water – Take note that if using a gluten free blend, you will most likely need more water as the starches absorb moisture much more. Warmish water is better as well, not ice water.
Salt – No kosher or sea salt here! Use table salt for the dough. The kosher/sea salt is too coarse and rough and will tear the dough when kneading and shaping.
Oil – Most any oil will work here except for coconut oil, it is too temperamental with temperatures and gets quite greasy.
**As always, please check which brands are safe for your needs.**
Allergy Friendly Salt Play Dough
Author: Katie Martino Lopez
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: depending on size, 30 minutes to 2 hours or more
Total Time: 35 minutes+
Yield: 6-3″ ramekins, 4-4″ ramekins or one 9″ round or square baking pan
- 2 c. all purpose or gluten free flour
- ¾ c. table salt (not sea or kosher salt)
- 1 ½ Tbls. oil (see above notes on oil choice)
- Warm water to make proper consistency, start with 1 c.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt.
- Add oil and then water slowly to make the proper consistency. The dough should hold together but not be wet. If the dough is wet, add small amounts of flour. It is ready when you can knead a soft dough but it’s not sticking. Remember, gluten free blends will soak up much more moisture and wheat flour will get gluey from gluten build up with too much water.
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- Roll, shape and cut dough with cookie cutter to desired designs and shapes. Be creative! Keep in mind that the thicker the dough, the longer it will take to bake and dry out. These get quite heavy when baked as well! **To make ornaments or anything to hang, use a straw to punch a hole at the desired spots for threading ribbon. This must be done before baking! See my 2020 ornament in the picture for reference.**
- Bake low and slow at 250 until the salt dough is dry with no damp patches, flipping often. For reference, the rainbow in my picture took 2 hours. Don’t rush this step!
- Let cool completely on a wire rack.
- When cool, decorate with paint, glitter and anything else your glue gun and imagination can come up with! You can seal it with Mod Podge as well.
- Do not use bread flour, it will be a gluey mess!
- Be patient when mixing and let the dough tell you if it needs more water or flour.
- Don’t rush the baking! If it is not fully dry, the dough will not keep and go rancid.
As we all know, reading labels and preparing food when managing allergies is a job within itself with much responsibility. All the brands I use are ones that I have contacted, and Casey has eaten safely. That being said, I must remind…
Please do your own research when deciding which products and foods are safe for the allergies you manage. These are the ones that are safe for our needs but may not be for you. Everyone has different comfort levels with manufacturing and production procedures.
And, as a friendly reminder, always have 2 epinephrine auto injectors on hand!