Naturally Dyed Playdough

Every Thursday my little Wylie stays home from preschool and we have a day.  Perhaps it's because of the endless summer, but lately I've been a little kid-weary, work-distracted, and uninspired, and our time together has been pretty blah.  I've been feeling  kind of bad about it, so yesterday I decided to give him my undivided attention and we worked on some fun projects, like baking his favorite pumpkin bread and making the play dough for his school.  We tried something new with the dough this time, using only plant based ingredients to create a stain. The colors turned out to be quite vivid, and yes, natural. So perfect for making play food.  We added cinnamon and vanilla to each color to give it a yummy autumn scent, which also masked the barnyard smell of the spirulina powder we used for our green. When we were done mixing them up, which was incredibly fun and very messy, Wylie and I spent an hour or so just playing fancy bake shop. Do you like my custard pies, meatloaf sandwich and picholine olives?  Doing this project with him was pretty much the highlight of my week, and this was kind of a big one, so I'm taking this as a sign that I need to play a little more... Scroll down to see adorable chubby hands and learn how to make this with your kids.  Happy Weekend! xo

Recipe after the pictorial.


Play dough is easy enough to make.  Here's what you need:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 cups salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 4 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp cream of tarter

Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot, turn the burner to low and stir until the wet paste becomes a solid dough, about 10 minutes.  Turn out onto a work surface and allow to cool enough to handle.  Knead for a minute our two until the dough is perfectly smooth then divide into the amount of colors you wish to make.

To make our colors we did the following:

Green: 3 tbsp spirulina powder combined with 3 tbsp hot water to form wet paste, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tbsp vanilla extract.  Knead into the dough until color is even.

Brown: 3 tbsp DECAF espresso grounds combined with 3 tbsp of hot water to form a gritty mixture, plus 1 tsp vanilla. When fully mixed with the dough the texture is smooth, the dough a medium brown with dark specs.

Gold: 1/2 tsp saffron threads, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cinnamon with 4 tbsp water.  Microwave for 30 seconds which will bring the mix to a boil.  Let steep for another minute, mash up the saffron until it breaks into tiny pieces, then fold into the dough until uniform.  This one might stain your counter, so do this on a sheet pan.

Beige: 2 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla. Combine until color is even, add a bit of the saffron mix if you want more color.