Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Great Cakes Soap Works Challenges #9 and #10


Amy set the last two challenges as "Peaked tops"and "Landscape"I was so excited about both challenges. As I was pondering what colours and scents to use for the peaked tops challenge I was driving my daughter the 25 minute drive into town for work early one morning and the fog was swirling around all the hills, every thing was a blue grey colour, and Ithought that is what I am going to make. As I am low on castile soaps I thought I would make a castile soap, mistake number 1. Castile is so slow to trace and then firm up to peak the top, but I persisted

I scented the soap with lavender and lemongrass EO's, it was coloured with pale blue spa minerals and Blue Ultra Marine. I was very happy with the end resuld, even if the top did end up flat.

Take two, The tops worked well, but the soap didn't want to set. Even after three or four days it was still too soft to unmold, I did end up getting it cut but it was still too soft, so I put it back in my combustion oven that was very slow, I left it there for about an hour, and it turned out OK. Scented with Lavender and peppermint EO's, coloured with parsley infused oil and olive leaf powder.

Now to the landscape soap......I was really happy with how this one came together, my idea came from our little valley, our farm is in its own valley, we can't see our neighbours, what better landscape could I ask for, so I went back to my silverbeet/chard soap for the base, or valley floor, then I made another batch of plain soap and divided it up to make olive green for the eucalypt bushline on the top of the hills, pink, yellow, blue and white for the sky which was inspired by some amazing sun rises and sets recently. I scented it with Lemon Myrtle, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Peppermint EO's.  As you can see in the above photo it doesn't look too bad, the yellow went a bit dark but if that was the worst it would have been fine.

 This gelled nicely, but seemed to stay in the gel stage. After a few days I thought I would do the oven trick again, the oven was really slow, so I popped it in, then went to work and totally forgot about it. I didn't think to take a photo of it in the oven, pity because it was a sight. but here it is after I un globbed it from the mold because I needed to use the mold. This is the first time I am seriously thinking about chucking a batch of soap in the bin......

Maybe I should call it a muddy moon scape or something like that.
But for all my flops lately I have really enjoyed checking out everybody elses successes. Next week is the last week of these great challenges. I am going to miss them, but am so grateful to Amy for getting me out of my rut and inspiring some creativity, as well as meeting new soap addicts.

On a different note here are our new babies, we had just got them home, the two white ones will be having piglets sometime in mid september and the other two are boys, one will grow up to be a daddy one day and the other one will be in our freezer in a couple of months.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Great Cakes Soap Works Challenge #8

Last week for Amy's Challenge was Salt Bars. I usually make a salt bar, with my basic soap recipe, table salt, grated plain castile soap (just for looks) and scented with spearmint, peppermint and eucalyptus. This is a popular soap, but as I make it regularly it wasn't much of a challenge, so I went to and worked out a different recipe.

As a part of trying to rid our diet of processed foods, I had bought a packet of Murray River salt flakes, which are harvested/mined and packaged down stream of the Murray River at Mildura. We live at the head of the Murray River, not sure how far it is in km's but it is about a days drive. This got me thinking, what else is Mildura famous for? The first thing that came to mind is oranges, and then olive oil. So I thought I would make an orange salt soap.

I used 40% each coconut and olive oil, then 10% each of beef render and castor oil. Salt ended up being about 50% of the fats and oils, I left the superfat at 0% as after researching using orange juice as the liquid it came out that the acid in the juice would negate some of the alkaline of the lye.

Salt Flakes, I love the colour of them. Pity the pink doesn't stay in the soap.

I finely grated the orange zest and then juiced about 4 oranges, All this was added to the lye. About 50% of the liquid was orange juice, the rest was water.

Mildura may be famous for olive oil, but the Upper Murray has the best, so why use any thing but the best. Especially when it is grown right here.

The soap took ages to come to a trace. So long that my stick blender overheated. Finally it became thick enough to add the salt. I scented it with a mix of Orange EO, Lemongrass EO and Benzoin Oleoresin. I am hoping that the Orange zest and the Oleoresin will hold the citrus in place. But it was such a small batch that it probably wont matter too much. I poured the mix into my trusty HD individual molds so I wouldn't have to cut it. One thing I hate about the salt bars is cutting them. Extra batter went into the silicone ice cube trays for guest soaps.

I am very late in getting this post up, but due to driving the 7 hours to Sydney to visit our eldest daughter for her 21st birthday was worth it. I hope all the Mums out there had a lovely Mothers Day. 

I can't wait to sit in front of the computer for a few hours and check out what all the other challenge participants did.But I think I need to be thinking about this weeks challenge, Peaked Tops......

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Great Cakes Soap Works Challenge #7

The challenge that Amy set us this week in her weekly challenges was to make a gradient coloured soap. I think that the only time I had seen this done was on Soap Queen with M&P soap. But after watching all the youtube videos available to me I was keen to take on the challenge. 

All my soap supplies are down a bit so the first challenge was to work out what colour and scent to use. After looking at what supplies I had and what soap I am running out of I decided to work with brambleberrys Turkish Mocha fragrant oil and coloured with cocoa powder and ground coffee.I kept my recipe exactly the same as last week as it seemed to trace at just the right speed that I thought I would need. I haven't done a Turkish Mocha for a while and I was hoping that it wouldn't speed things up too much. But after watching Amy take 1 1/2 hours to complete her pour. I didn't want to stand around for that long either. 

I had a photographer this time, so now I don't have the trouble of not having photos, I have the trouble of picking out which ones I want out of the 98 that were taken.

I added ground coffee thanks to the kids at Corryong College hospitality class and cocoa to the mix for colour and exfoliant.

I kept some of the batter to the side so I would have a white top.

The fragrance did speed up the trace a bit, but not too much. It did discolour though.

So I added titanium dioxide for good measure. Yes I know I am naughty for not wearing gloves but I forget, and when I start to feel burning spots on my fingers it is too late anyway.

Pouring the first layer, looks just like chocolate ganache.

I have a thing about making the coffee soap in cups and cupcakes,so I couldn't resist doing the layers and seeing how they would turn out.

Adding the second layer. I was impatient and could see it sinking a bit, so I tried to be more careful.

Adding more plain batter to the colour.

Adding another layer

Finally the white top.

I had some brown mica infused in oil from another soap so I mixed it with some of the plain batter too, and had the opportunity to use the sauce bottle I had paid 20c for at the op shop just for this purpose.

To this point I am very happy with the results, but the proof is in the cutting.....

The butterflys were from the last scrapings of the bowl. I hate to waste any soap. And I think these have real practical joke potential. Even my husband almost picked one up thinking it was a chocolate.

Over all I am very happy with the end result. But I can see how it would have been heaps better had I been more patient between layers, and taken the time to do things like wipe the side of the mold. I will definitely be doing a gradient soap again. Thanks again Amy for setting these challenges each week, they are such an inspiration, as is looking at what everybody else around the world has done for their challenge. Check them all out here