Dead Dough? Yes that’s right, dead dough. Its is basically a dough that is made without yeast or a leavening agent. This means that the dough will not rise when baked. What ever form you shape the dough, that is exactly how to will stay once baked. Dead dough, is an artisan dough, and is used for decoration only, typically as centerpieces.
In a bakers world, it is known as bakers clay. Although dead dough is made with edible ingredients, it is not meant to be eaten. It is used more for decorative pieces, often used as show pieces at competitions.
No colorants are used in making dead dough. To give the dough color, spices and dry food powders such as raspberry, turmeric, and spinach.
In my days of Pastry School, I was assigned to make a creative piece for class. Me being the daring one, wanted to create something that no other student would do. I figured everyone would try to do baskets and simple pieces. I wanted something that would stand out and be eye catching at the same time. So I decided to do a Vintage Bird Cage. I thought, “Ya sure, I got this!” And boy was it a challenge. I had to make so many rods, and they all had to be the same length. I also had to make a base and a top to secure the rods in order to make the cage.
(You can do whatever design you want. You can even find a template and print it out on cardboard stock paper to make it easier for you.)
I wanted to give the vintage bird cage a more vivid look, so I added roses and a little birds nest to go with it. I used a combination of raspberry powder for the roses, spinach powder for the leaves and vines, turmeric for the birds eggs, and cinnamon for the birds nest. The colors at first are intense, however once baked, the colors tend to fade, so keep this in mind when you want strong vivid colors in your final piece. If the pieces should come out too faded once baked, you can mix a little bit of the simple syrup and dry powder and color the piece.
Next, I had to figure out how to mold the pieces. For the top part of the cage, I used a stainless steel bowl, and covered it in aluminum foil. Remember that if you are going to be making molded pieces that are going to be baked, so you have to use things that are oven safe. I then added the rod pieces and molded them around to give it that curved effect. Once I had all my pieces done, I baked them in the oven, and once they were done, I let them cool. Now comes the fun part, assembling my master piece. In competitions, all dead dough pieces have to be edible, even though they are not meant for eating. The competition is not only having an amazing design, but the ability to complete a piece that is made with ALL edible ingredients. For this, they use sugar.
For me however, I like to get out my trusty glue gun. I first started out with putting on the rods to the top of the cage, then I worked my way around. (FYI: Always make extra pieces, you never know when one will break on you)
Once I was satisfied with my final assembly, I then sprayed the whole thing with edible Lacquer. It helps it to both preserve the piece and make it shiny as well.
For our final practical, we were given the choice of working with whatever medium we wanted. Because dead dough is easy to manipulate as far as structure goes, I opted into working with it again. This time, I put my heart and sole to create something that had meaning in my life. I chose to do a collections of symbols that represented the island of Puerto Rico. I went with the Taino Sun and Coqui, A Garita (Sentry Box), Amapola (Hibiscus) flowers, and as the base, the Island itself.We had two days to complete our projects, and I was determined to get everything as I had pictured it. Every symbol had a meaning and a spot on the island. The Taino Sun would be placed on the west side of the island by Cabo Rojo to represent the amazing sunsets we see. The Amapolas would go just south of the island near Salinas to represent the islands state flower. The Taino Coqui would be in the east side to represent our tropical rainforest El Yunque. And finally, the Garita (Sentry Box) placed in the northern part of Puerto Rico for it represents our capitals Fort San Felipe del Morro.
I absolutely love this master piece. It now sits on my mantle for everyone to see. It is definitely a conversation starter piece.
White Decorative Dough
- 750 grams white rye flour
- 250 grams light buckwheat flour
- 640 grams dough syrup
- 1,175 grams granulated sugar
- 1,140 grams water
- 420 grams glucose
White Decorative Dough
- Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl
- Add the desired syrup amount. Add just enough to the make the dough maliable.
- Mix together by hand with a plastic bench scraper. This part is super sticky.
- Add more syrup until you achieve the desired consistency.
- COver with plastice wrap and save until ready to be used.
- Boil the water in a pot.
- Combine the sugar and the glucose together and set aside.
- Scale the boiling water to the desired weight, and then add it to the sugar/glucose mixture. Mix until all the crystals have dissolved.
- Keep the syrup mixture covered until it is ready to be used.