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dough it right how to make salt dough ornaments by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3 4
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the great bake-off
Once you've filled up your tray with ornaments (you can pack them in fairly close, as these won't really expand as they bake), you're ready to pop them in the oven, which should be preheated to 250F. Some recipes for salt dough ornaments call for a higher baking temperature, but upping the dial can result in unsightly cracks and browning of the dough, so I prefer to stick with the lower, safer temps.

Bake until the cookies have hardened -- this can take four hours or even more, depending upon the thickness of the ornaments. You'll want to check on the ornaments from time to time, and flip them over once the top side is mostly hardened to ensure that the bottom dries out as well. As the ornament bakes the colors will lighten as the moisture is cooked off; dark patches generally indicate spots that still have some moisture. If the drying process seems to be taking particularly long, you can also help speed up the process by removing the mostly-dried ornaments from the baking sheet, and placing them directly on the oven's wire rack (provided the wires aren't spread so far apart that your ornaments fall through). Having both sides exposed to the warm air should help speed things along somewhat.

the finish
After you've finished baking the ornaments into a sufficiently hardened state, let them sit out on wire drying racks for another day or two (this ensures that they'll really be fully dried-out). At this point, you can use paint to add whatever details you like to your ornaments, or leave them as is. It's also a nice touch to add initials and date to the back of each ornaments (fine-point permanent marker is easier to work with than paint for this purpose). Whether you've decided to paint or not, you'll want to finish off your little works of art by giving them a couple of coats of clear varnish (either paint-on or spray varieties). The varnish will add an extra protective layer to keep your ornaments preserved for years; if you choose a gloss variety, it'll also add a nice shine to the ornaments and perk up the colors to boot.

Of course, you're not quite done yet. Remember that hole you made a point to remember to poke at the top of each ornament? Time now to put it to use. Take a 9" length of narrow ribbon; bring the ends of the ribbon together and tie into a knot. You'll have a lovely little loop of ribbon. Pull the loop end of the ribbon through the hole in the ornament, so that you have the loop on one side and the knot on the other. Bring the knot end through the loop, and pull taut. Voila -- pop your ornament on your tree and admire it for years to come, or wrap it up as a lovely gift for someone else to enjoy!


check out these related articles: 
o christmas tree | deck the halls | sweater stockings | holiday cards | gift ideas within reason | good enough to eat
edible gifts | eat it, don't wear it more edible gifts

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