Saturday, April 23, 2011

Salt Dough Lebkuchen

Gingerbread Salt Dough Heart

Technique: Salt Dough

all purpose flour
wallpaper paste
acrylic paints

cookie cutter

Salt Dough Recipe
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt
1/2 cup ground allspice
2 tspn wallpaper paste
1/2 cup water

Combine all the ingredients and knead until smooth, approximately 10 minutes. Allspice is a combination of nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon that has a wonderful gingerbread smell. If you can't find it commercially prepared, you can substitute in half a cup of cinnamon. I'm not typically a fan of salt dough, although cheap to make it doesn't have the versatility of polymer clay, however this recipe is excellent for making "cookies".

You can treat salt dough exactly as you would roll out cookie dough. Roll it to the desired thickness, usually about 1/4" thick and use cookie cutters to form shapes. Use a straw to push a hole in the top of the cookie for hanging later. For these Lebkuchen cookies I used two sizes of heart shaped cutters.

Lay on a baking tray and bake in an oven at around 250F/120C for an hour, turn and cook for another hour. Let cool in the oven. After baking they should be dry, light and have a hollow sound when tapped.

Once the cookies are fully dried and cooled you can paint and decorate however you wish. For best results and a cookie that will last many years, give several coats of varnish, making sure you coat inside the hanging hole also. Salt is a humectant, and will draw any moisture in the air to the dough causing it to soften, it is essential to seal it properly to prevent your cookie from going soggy.

Most of us have probably seen traditional Lebkuchen at Christmas time. The warm, dark, spiced cookies, most often seen in a heart shape. I used the same batch of dough that I created the gingerbread man from, but rather than using a waterbased sealant, on the Lebkuchen I used Wattle Estapol, a solvent based varnish that requies turpentine to cleanup. It has a deep, golden colour that really enhances the colour of the cookie.

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