National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

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Dough Art

Czech Dough Art or Pastry Figures

Decorate tables or mantelpieces
Hang on the wall
Add to a wreath or centerpiece

Ingredients
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup salt (iodized or plain)
1 ½ cups water

NOTE: Dough may not be eaten.

Preparing the dough
1. In a big bowl, mix flour and salt until well blended
2. Add one cup of water and continue to mix
3. Slowly add the remaining ½ cup of water, turning the dough in the bowl, and form it into a ball.
4. Knead the dough for 10 minutes – this is the key to a good, workable dough.
5. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic. Put it in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
6. Bring the refrigerated dough to room temperature before working with it.

Working with the dough
1. Lightly dust your work surface with flour
2. Pinch off a piece of dough and shape it by hand to create the pastry figure.
3. Manicure scissors or a paring knife may be used to add details.
4. Use your finger, dipped in water, to moisten the places where pieces of dough are to be attached to each other. Use just enough to make a firm bond.
5. In figures to be hung, make the holes using a plastic drinking straw, wooden skewer, or similar object.
6. Add the finishing touches using poppy seeds, mustard seeds, currants, cloves, peppercorns, or other types of spices.
7. Brush lightly with a beaten egg. Make sure the holes you made in the figures stay open and unglazed.

Baking the dough
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
2. Place the pastry figures on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
3. The figures dry as they bake, so baking times may range from ½ hour for small or thin figures to several hours for large or thicker ones.
4. At some point while baking, turn the figures over.
5. Each figure must be baked until it is completely hard.
6. To test for hardness, remove figure from the oven, let it cool for a few minutes, then press it gently. If the dough does not yield to the pressure of your finger, it is completely baked on that side. Turn the figure over and repeat the test. If the figure is not firm, return it to the oven and continue baking until it is completely hard.

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