dead dough

What Is Dead Dough?

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Dead dough might not sound like something you would want to use in your kitchen, cooking, or baking, but it is actually a really important dough to know more about. It has been used for centuries.

A simple mix of flour, water, and sometimes sugar or glucose, is used to create dead dough, which has quite a specific use.

What is dead dough? Dead dough is an ornamental dough that can be used to create sculptures on cakes or baked goods, and still be edible. The dough is called dead dough because there is no leavening agent used to cause the dough to rise. It’s made of flour, water, and sometimes sugar or glucose.

If you have never heard of dead dough before, keep reading to find out more about this ornamental dough, what it is made from, how to use it, and more!

What Is Dead Dough?

Dead dough is dough that does not contain any leavening agents, such as yeast or baking soda. The dough will not rise, and whatever shape or thickness it is cut to, it will bake.

This makes it a really useful tool for creating decorative and ornamental pieces, whether you want to make a gingerbread house or a topper for a cake and make it edible.

Dead dough can also be used to make edible bread baskets, display pieces, and used in place of shortcuts pastry as well, there really are so many uses.

The making of dead dough can be traced back centuries, as it was initially made using very simple staple ingredients: flour and water.

Now, dead dough can contain a few additional ingredients that allow it to set better, roll easier, be longer-lasting and taste better too!

Dead dough requires the ingredients to be mixed together, and then kneaded and rolled until it has the right stiffness to be shaped and cut.

What Is Dead Dough Made Of?

Dead dough was originally made from just flour and water. But nowadays more ingredients are added to achieve different results, such as a darker color or a sweeter taste.

A popular mix of ingredients used to make dead dough now is wheat flour, refined flour, water, sugar, sugar syrup, and liquid glucose. You can play around with the wheat flour and refined flour ratio, and the sugar syrup and liquid glucose ratio too.

Using different flours also gives different results. For example, using whole wheat flour will give you a browner, darker dough with a grainier texture.

The beauty of dead dough is that you can play around to find the recipe and mixture that works best for you, whether you want to keep it simple with flour, water, and sugar, or if you want to include glucose syrup into the mix for a specific finish.

Whatever mix you want to use, you just need to make sure not to include a leavening agent in the mix, such as yeast. This will cause the dough to rise and lose shape, and it will not hold its form well which means you cannot create decorative pieces with it.

How Is Dead Dough Made?

Dead dough is really quite simple to make and just involves combining the dry ingredients along with the sugar mixture.

The best type of dead dough is made using a mix of sugar and liquid glucose, to give it a good workability and to give it a decent enough taste should anyone want to eat it.

dead dough

How to Make Dead Dough

Here is a quick and simple recipe for making dead dough:


  • 17 oz refined flour
  • 17 oz wheat flour
  • 10 oz sugar
  • 10 oz water
  • 3 oz liquid glucose


  1. Mix the dry ingredients together well.
  2. Mix the sugar and the water together in a saucepan over heat to create a sugar syrup.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and the sugar syrup and liquid glucose together.
  4. Mix until combined and then knead into a dough.
  5. Continue kneading until the dough can be easily rolled and cut to shape.
  6. Preheat the oven to 290°F.
  7. Place the dough onto a floured baking sheet and place in the preheated oven.
  8. Leave to bake until firm, which could be between 1 to 2 hours depending on the size and thickness of the dough.

How you bake dead dough or leave it to dry depends on the size of the piece and how thick or thin it is. It might be a good idea to try a test piece first to see how it turns out and how long it would actually take.

What Is Dead Dough Used For?

Dead dough can be used for many different things. It really is just up to your imagination.

Popularly, dead dough is used as ornamental pieces, for creating edible bread baskets, baked good toppers, or even gingerbread house structures.

It is also great to use to stencil out names, letters and shapes, too. You can use it to add a personalized touch to a design.

You can also create bread sculptures and centerpieces using dead dough, too. It is easy to work with and holds up well in large structures.

Dead dough is also a common replacement for shortcrust pastry in pies and bakes, as it can taste fairly similar depending on the ingredients used.

You can think of dough similar to sculpting dough, where you can sculpt and create while it is soft. Then you dry it out either by air or in an oven to harden it in place.

How Does Dead Dough Differ From Other Types of Dough?

Dead dough is different from other types of dough as it:

  1. Does not contain a leavening agent, and
  2. Is not left to rise before it is baked and dried out.

The dough does not need to be left to rise or develop. It can be used as soon as the consistency is right.

There are dough types that are also unleavened, but these are usually rolled thin and eaten as a wrap or flatbread. Whereas dead dough is supposed to be fairly dense and solid so it holds its shape when baked and dried.

The other difference with dead dough is that it does not need to be kneaded until the gluten strands are developed and stretched. That needs to happen with leavened dough for the yeast to develop and the dough to be light when baked.

When it comes to dead dough, it just needs to be kneaded and rolled until it is a little softer but still at a malleable consistency that you are happy working with.

There is nothing that needs to be broken down during the kneading process. It is just to get it to a good consistency and for all the ingredients to be mixed together properly.

Can You Add Yeast to Dead Dough?

By definition, dead dough should not contain a leavening agent such as yeast. That’s why it has the name ‘dead.’ However, there are some cases where dead dough can contain yeast.

Dead dough can be made with some flour, salt, water and a small pinch of yeast. Then it’s rolled, kneaded and used for practicing shaping and scoring.

This dough is not meant to be eaten. Rather, it’s for bakers to practice scoring techniques to build up skill and confidence before scoring proper loaves of bread. This type of dead dough can be scored, rolled, scored and rolled multiple times for the best type of practice.

This allows bakers to avoid having to re-roll proper bread dough after making a mistake with scoring, and then possibly ruining the dough in the process.

This type of dough feels fairly similar to playdough. Its surface is exactly like that of proper bread dough for practice.

However, unlike ornamental dead dough, it will not be baked and used as decoration after being scored. It would not taste really pleasant at all, and due to the inclusion of yeast, it will not hold shape when baked.

What Does Dead Dough Taste Like?

Dead dough is mainly used to create edible decorative pieces, but this does not necessarily mean that it should be eaten. It is more of a replacement for non-edible decorations. It’s popularly used because it is easy to sculpt and shape.

You can definitely eat dead dough, but it just will not taste very good. It will likely taste like a very bland, slightly sweet dough, and it will not have a very good texture to it.

Dead dough is supposed to be fairly dense in order to hold its shape well when it is rolled and baked.

This dough will not be light and fluffy like other dough types. It won’t have a specific flavor to it, either. If you want dough that tastes good, then dead dough is not the right option for you.

Some dead dough creations might be covered in frosting or sweets to add to the decoration. These might be okay to eat with the added sweetness or flavor from the frosting and toppings.

But other than this it is not likely that the bread dough will be offered up for consumption!

What Is Salt Dough?

Salt dough is often brought up when mentioning dead dough, and it’s because the two are fairly similar. As the name suggests, salt dough is made with salt, whereas dead dough is made with sugar.

Salt dough is a mix of flour, salt and water. Unlike dead dough, it is not meant to be eaten. The correct ratio of flour, salt and water is mixed together to form a workable dough. This is then shaped, cut and rolled into shapes and designs.

It is then baked in the oven, or left to air dry, and once fully dry, it becomes very hard. Again, it is not meant to be eaten, and it would be too hard to take a bite out of.

salt dough

The benefit of using salt dough is that when it dries hard, it is easy to paint and decorate, and it will then last for a long time if looked after properly.

Salt dough is commonly used to make Christmas ornaments and homemade decorations, and offers a safe medium for kids to work with too.

It can also be kept unbaked and used similar to playdough.

Can You Color Dead Dough?

The beauty of dead dough is that you have the freedom to use just about any ingredient you want to achieve the design you’re after.

Different flours can be used to give the dough a darker or lighter appearance. The flour can also give it a grainier or smoother texture.

You can also use natural ingredients to color in dead dough. Foods such as turmeric, beetroot or spinach, will not have much of an effect on how the dead dough turns out but will give it color.

Regular food coloring is also an option to use to alter the color of dead dough.

What Tools Do You Need to Make Dead Dough?

You can use just about any tool you have lying in your kitchen to make sculptures with dead dough. But there are a few specific tools that can be really helpful.

For large sculptures, molds can be designed to help shape the dough and keep it in a specific shape while it bakes. These can be pre-bought molds or custom-designed molds.

baking tools

You can also use sculpting tools designed for cake decorating or clay for dead dough too. These can help cut the dough into shape and then add finer details to the pieces too.

Textured tools also give the dead dough different surface finishes.

Lastly, unused paint brushes are great to use to add finishing details to the dead dough sculptures once they have dried and cooled. You could also use piping tools to add frosting and details to the dead dough pieces as well.

Why Do People Use Dead Dough?

There are other options that could be used to make decorative pieces, but dead dough is popular for a few reasons.

Firstly, it is really quite cheap to make dead dough. It can be made using ingredients you likely have sitting in your pantry already.

Secondly, unlike many other decorating options, dead dough can last for up to six months before going bad.

Most importantly, there is also a lot of creative expression that comes with rolling and shaping dead dough!

What Is Dead Dough? – Review

While the name does not sound so appealing, dead dough is a really useful dough to know how to make and use if you are wanting to create edible decorations.

Dead dough might not taste great when eaten, but with it, you can create large and intricate sculptures that can last for up to 6 months. (Don’t eat it when it’s that old, though!)

The dough is given the name dead dough because it does not contain any leavening agents such as yeast. So it will therefore not rise.

There are so many things that you can create with dead dough. You likely have all the ingredients ready to use in the kitchen already!

dead dough

Easy Breeze Dead Dough Recipe


  • 17 oz refined flour
  • 17 oz wheat flour
  • 10 oz sugar
  • 10 oz water
  • 3 oz liquid glucose


  1. Mix the dry ingredients together well.
  2. Mix the sugar and the water together in a saucepan over heat to create a sugar syrup.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and the sugar syrup and liquid glucose together.
  4. Mix until combined and then knead into a dough.
  5. Continue kneading until the dough can be easily rolled and cut to shape.
  6. Preheat the oven to 290°F.
  7. Place the dough onto a floured baking sheet and place in the preheated oven.
  8. Leave to bake until firm, which could be between 1 to 2 hours depending on size and thickness of the dough.

Related Questions

Is Dead Dough the Same as Dough That Hasn’t Risen?

Dead dough is not the same as dough that has not risen. But dough that has not risen and where the yeast has not activated can also be referred to as dead dough.

If you have dough that has not risen, you can change what you were going to use it for. Then you can instead roll it out and bake it into a flatbread.

Can You Use Dead Yeast?

You can use dead yeast, but it will likely not give you a light and fluffy bread. You can learn how to store yeast better and avoid this problem here.

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