You may remember that last Friday I was undecided which crafty adventure to start with, from a list of five. After reading all your comments I was even more undecided. Go for the quilt. Don't go for the quilt...... So I decided to start with what would take the least time, the soap. I sent the children outside to play and set to work on Saturday afternoon.
I had this idea of lemon meringue pie soap in my head and this is what I set out to make. I was going to recreate a soap I had seen on the Soap Queen's blog. It is a lemon poppy meringue soap with no pastry layer. I decided to go for the look only and stick to familiar oils for the soap as I am used to their soap making properties.
I used a two pound bread tin, badly lined as I can see now but didn't really notice in the heat of the creative process. I measured out all the other ingredients and lined them up neatly, like any reputable TV chef would except of course I am just an ordinary woman.
I started off with a basic recipe using a third of each olive oil, palm oil and coconut oil, with an additional 5% of sweet almond oil for super-fatting. This by the way is a fancy way of saying that you add more fat that can be converted into soap with the amount of lye used, which makes a soft and luxurious bar of soap that won't dry your skin out. Nothing beats a bit of jargon to make you sound competent :-)
I made the basic soap mixture and divided it into two batches, one for the lemon layer and the other one for the meringue. I wanted the lemon layer to be quite runny so it would make an even surface when poured into the tin. I got distracted and mixed just a tad too long. The result was a quite thick gloop but I managed to tip it into the tin, which I then bashed it vigorously on the worktop to level the soap. Then I noticed that I had forgotten to add the fragrance oil. I could have just added it all the to meringue layer but for some reasons that are not entirely clear now I poured it into the tin with the yellow layer and used my stick blender to mix it in. Not a good idea I can tell you here in confidence, the tin was too shallow and there was also the issue of the lining paper which I did absolutely not want to be blended into the soap. To add insult to injury, the fragrance considerably speeded up the saponification reaction and the yellow layer was even more thick than before. I had to admit defeat in the end. To give more definition to the two layers, I sprinkled the lemon layer with black mica.
The meringue layer was easier. I added a a tablespoon of titanium dioxide to make the meringue extra white and a handful of poppy seeds to add tiny spots. I did remember not to use the stick blender after I added the seeds. I also added the fragrance oil. This mixture was also thick gloop but I needed this consistency for making peaks and swirls on the surface. As it turns out, making elegant peaks and swirls is not exactly easy but I did get to an acceptable shape.
The saponification process creates a lot of heat and most recipes suggest to keep the soap warm by wrapping it up in a towel. Yesterday evening I could not wait one second longer and decided to unfold the soap and cut it into slides. I am pleasantly surprised that inside it is not all too messy. I may trim the outsides a bit. I don't think I am quite ready to go into business but I am pleased with the soap. Now it has to cure for 4 weeks before I can use it.
I must admit I was a bit stressed because of the mistakes I made. This recipe was taking my soap making skills to the next level. I definitely need to look at my stick blending technique and maybe make a checklist to follow so I don't forget to add ingredients. I might make similar soap for practice before I move on to really trick swirly soap.