Friday, May 15, 2015

Great Cake Soapworks May 2015 Soap Challenge: Mini Dessert Soaps.

I entered the soap challenge again. I was going to enter the April one as well but I missed the deadline. It was probably just as well, April was a sad month for my husband. He lost both his mother and his aunt within a week of the other. It has been a bit difficult.

Anyhow, I was excited to see what this month's challenge would be. When I started making soap, my very second soap was a brownie soap. I didn't have any other scent other than vanilla and I colored it with cocoa powder. He said I was evil and asked that I not make soap that looked or smelled like food. So I was happy to be part of this challenge just to needle my husband. Really, it was quite nice of him to think so well of my efforts in soap making. I didn't feel like it was realistic, but he must have.

The ideas were pouring through my head and it was difficult to pin just four down. I enjoy these challenges because there is a goal to achieve in your very own way. I find it funny how goals can boost creativity rather than suppress them. I wanted to play with that fondant soap, so I made some immediately. I used to play with polymer clay,so I thought I could sculpt something cute. I knew I wanted to make a parfait as an homage to my days working at Dairy Queen. The rest was still very much up in the air.

So here is what I am going to enter: a Orange Strawberry Parfait, a Gingerbread House with Gingerbread Maude (she just feels like a Maude to me), a dressed up Brownie Bite, and a mini Strawberry Swirl cake with glazed strawberry topper. All the cold process soap has goat milk and the brown soap has cocoa powder. The seeds are blueberry.

I originally had a chocolate fudge parfait, but well, it looked melted. And my cherry was ugly and I didn't wait long enough to add the silly thing. As you can see, my fragrance didn't give my anytime before bleeding into the unscented soap. I was going for a bit of a messy parfait since I know from making them, they don't look picture perfect. Often one machine was not freezing as nicely as it was supposed to. But well, I wasn't really happy with the chocolate fudge one, so I decided to make another kind.

Strawberry was on my mind. I decided to make a Strawberry Swirl Cake with my round embed mold from Brambleberry. I had made mini strawberries with the fondant soap, so I was just going to add a Strawberry Parfait. I used some melt and pour soap to make my strawberry sauce.

All I had to do was to roughly chop it into little chunks. I didn't have any strawberry seeds, so those are blueberry seeds you see there in the picture. (My youngest son, Lil' Duder, thought it was watermelon soap.) So all I had to do was add the strawberry chunks and drizzle with some more melt and pour colored with mica. (Full disclosure: I used a red mica that I knew discolored in cold process to orange, but didn't think about contact within my finished product. I was dismayed when I went to take pictures until I remembered I used Nature's Garden Citrus Strawberry fragrance, so I just changed it to an Orange Strawberry Parfait.) Most of the white soap I left unscented. My fondant strawberrys were too small to use as a topper so I just added my leftover chocolate soap that I was playing with my piping. I watch too many cooking shows sometimes, 
I wanted to frost the outside of the mini swirl cakes, but I didn't manage my time very well. The middle frosting was still very squishable while my frosting soap was stiffening fast. And I was getting tired. These soap take quite a bit of work. Since I couldn't pipe the fancy cake frosting on, I decided to dip my mini strawberry fondants into some clear melt and pour to make glazed strawberries. I love glazed strawberries. 

My brownie bites were the easiest to make. I just poured some chocolate soap into my mini cupcake silicone pan. I wanted the top to look a little flaky like a real brownie, so I put some crinkled plastic wrap on the top. I thought it worked rather well. Since it was so simple I wanted to add some chocolate mint leaves. I was going to just use tempered cocoa butter tinted green, but I'm running low on cocoa butter. I was just going to brush it on some real mint leaves and leave it one until it solidified. Yeah, another product of watching cooking shows. So I thought I would just go ahead and try with the cold process soap. It worked great,though you really should try to get the leaf off as soon as you can. It kinda wilted into soap and didn't want to come off so easy when I left it too long.

The gingerbread house was inspired by a cookie cutter I bought before my Alco closed. I made some brown soap with cocoa powder. I wasn't going to scent it at all since I had the bleed through problem, but I couldn't leave off. So I added some lemon cake fragrance since I didn't have a gingerbread type scent. At least my soap gingerbread would have a bakery type scent. Ack, this scent is AWESOME! I am totally rebatching some of my leftover soap in this scent. Love it. I had so much fun with the gingerbread. I had enough soap leftover to make little gingerbread people. One thing to note though: I put the gingerbread cookie cutter in the wet soap and let it solidify. I tried to cut another set in case I screwed up the first. Bad idea, the cutter is plastic and the soap crumbled horribly. The metal cookie cutters didn't have this problem.
Some of my mess and my horde of gingerbread people. I tried to pipe some roses with the leftover frosting soap.
Orange Strawberry Parfait, Strawberry Swirl Cake, Brownie Bite, Gingerbread

Close ups
I know that I could have been more patient and should have used another soap base. I keep using my bastile one that well, takes forever to get stiff. I have to say I know I have a long way to be great at this type of soaping, but for my first time, I think I did a decent job.

Thanks to all the people who commented on my last Challenge post. I really enjoyed reading your comments. I hope you all enjoy my mini soap desserts. I had so much fun making them and I still have a few ideas of others to make. 

Laundry Butter

So I was commenting on a post of one of the Facebook groups I belong to about Laundry Butter when it got deleted by the owner. I dislike having a thread deleted when I didn't get to read all the comments. Ah well, such is life, I am often disappointed. But it got me thinking that I hadn't shared with you a whole lot these past years. Granted they were very hard years, but I wanted to get back to why I started a blog in the first place. I wanted to share my knowledge, experiences and experiments.

So back to Laundry Butter. I adore my liquid laundry soap. I worked a lot to get it to work for my family. Alas, when we moved to Bisbee in the late fall, it was too cold in my laundry room to keep my liquid soap, well liquid. I recycled on of those cheapo laundry detergent bottles with a spout for my laundry soap. (FYI I will never buy cheap laundry detergent again. I hated the scent and half my family couldn't use the stuff. It took me forever to use it up so I can put my own stuff in.) Let me just say it is so much work to get that stuff liquid again so I can get it out of the bottle and use the stuff. I decided that since it was going to be a butter anyhow, I might as well make it like that to begin with.

I do not like the typical recipe that calls for 5 gallons of water as when I have made it before I would have to a floating solid mass on the top with slimy liquid underneath the mass. I don't like the snot like texture and I don't like having to mix my laundry soap every time I need to use it. I know that Suzanne from Chickens in the Road did more concentrated laundry soap, so I knew I could make something similar.

Borax with soap shreds seem to coagulate rather well together. It seems too much water will cause a bit of a separation. It seems that even though you add a lot of water to bar soap, its structure wants to solidify despite the extra water. I know I use about 2 gallons of water for my liquid soap, so I didn't want to use anymore than that. Anyhow, nevermind my silly thought processes to get my formula here is the recipe I have been using since February.

Laundry Soap Base for Shredding

You need basic soap making knowledge for this. This recipe should only been done by a person who knows how to make soap and who has advanced knowledge on the subject. You can substitute Zote or Fels Naptha if you so wish. This is just what I have done.

50% Coconut Oil
50% Lard

-2% in the superfat (this is a lye excess, but if you are not comfortable with an excess, just use what superfat you'd like)

I shred this just as soon as it is solid enough as this base can get rather hard and I like to shred when it is still like cheddar cheese.

Laundry Butter Formula

This is very concentrated. I don't use more than a tablespoon for a big load. Mostly I have based this for the very hard water of where I live. I like this formula as it works well for my family and I.

2 gallons of distilled water
3 cups of borax
3 cups of washing soda
30 ounces of soap shreds
4 oz of polysorbate 20 or 80
1 oz of preferred essential oil (We love the citrus, so most of ours are lemon, orange or grapefruit)

  1. In a stainless steel stock pot, boil the first 3 ingredients together.
  2. When the water boils and the borax and washing soda are totally dissolved, turn off heat and add soap shreds.
  3. Mix together polysorbate 20 or 80 with the essential oil. When the soap shreds are completely dissolved and the liquid is just very warm, you can add the polysorbate/essential oil mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Pour into your preferred vessel. I recommend a big tub with a lid. I found an old laundry detergent tub in my garage that I use. Let cool completely. It always take overnight for me.
I only use a tbsp of this butter per regular load and I use white vinegar as my fabric softener. I still believe in extra rinses. I know that this works well for me because well I tweaked the recipe until it worked for my new home. 

If you use this, please know it may not be as good or you probably need to tweak the formula to work for you. After nearly nine years of making my own soap and laundry soap, I know enough what to tweak, but mostly it is trial and error.


Note: The batch made in February was made using fresh soap shreds and the batch made in May was made using shreds I saved from February.  I should have stored the shreds in a cardboard box instead of a plastic bin I did. I know that the soap would yellow, but I forgot that soap needs to breathe so this batch doesn't smell that great because of that.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Soapbox: Update on Boy Genius Five Years Later

It seems a bit surreal that it has been five years since the whole oven cleaner accident. I remember vividly my anxious wait to hear what the doctors had to say. I remember tossing my poor boy in the shower. And I remember how relieved we all were when he started to heal. He didn't like the grey side effect of the silver cream. He would rub his face when he should have left it alone so we just gave him some salve and he stopped rubbing the scabs off his face.
The day after the accident. May 5, 2010
May 5, 2015
 As you can see, he has minimal scars. They are there, but I'm sure that unless you really look, you can't find them. Isn't he growing up to be so handsome?

The Lord was so generous to us. The caustic cleaner didn't get in his eyes, inner ears or his lungs. It could have been so much worse. I am so glad that because of my soap making knowledge that I instantly I needed to get the lye in the cleaner solution diluted. I really wasn't into chemistry, but I had found that my love of making soap also piqued my interest into chemistry. I'm sure that the Lord had a hand in that as well. I am so thankful that Boy Genius has such a resilient spirit. He bounced back from this accident and became a little more careful in some aspects. He tends to read labels now. Yes, the Lord has been good to our family.