First challenge in some time.
It’s been a while since I took part in one of the Great Cakes Soapworks challenges so I was really looking forward to this one. I knew as soon as I saw what the challenge was this month that I would be taking part – I do love a good swirl challenge! And the videos I watched made it look easy, right??
Oh dear – it didn’t start well!
I’m going to start with the attempts that didn’t quite go to plan – when I say didn’t go to plan, I mean complete disaster for attempt #1 as you will see in a moment. After trawling the internet and finding as many tutorials as I could (there’s not many out there) I felt ready to have a go. I knew I needed a slow-moving recipe so decided to modify Amy’s slow moving recipe a little for my tastes (I can’t tolerate too much coconut oil). I decided to include avocado oil for the first time so even though it’s not how it was supposed to look, I am at least looking forward to trying the soap after a good cure. I also figured I’d still go ahead and use castor oil since I’ve used it before and didn’t find it sped trace up too much. After combining my lye water with the oils and splitting out small portions for my colours I decided that the base was a little too green – from the avocado I assume? So I added some TD (another no no when needing a slow mover!). Here’s the colour palette I used for inspiration:
I poured a little of my (still green) base colour into my mould and started pouring the lines of what was to be the teardrop. This part seemed to go ok other than getting a little thicker than I’d like towards the last couple of pours. My remaining base however was definitely way too thick. Went ahead and poured as best I could then decorated the tops – I didn’t expect a perfect teardrop but what I got was way worse than expected! Here’s a picture of the top so you can at least see how my colours turned out.
As you can see, that is most definitely NOT a teardrop!!
On to attempt #2
I decided to use the same recipe but changed out the avocado for sweet almond oil and also took out the castor oil and increased my lard. I did still use a little TD though in my base colour as I wanted a pastel green and it looked too dark without it. The colours stayed a little more fluid this time but my base was still thicker than I would have liked. I think this time though this was probably down to me getting a little too stick blender happy and probably going past light trace in the first place. I knew it wasn’t going to be a perfect teardrop but it was a definite improvement on the above (wouldn’t be hard though!).
Now for the main event!
Ever the perfectionist I decided attempt #3 was a must. This time there would be no TD, less stick blending, no castor and I intended to pour when instinctively I felt it was still a little runnier than I’d usual go for on the assumption I’m always pouring at slightly too thick trace for this technique. I’ve been using paper cups for my colours so that I can pinch a spout but had found that because there was so little soap batter in there it was hard for gravity to do its job and that the soap didn’t pour out as easily as it would with more soap in there. With this in mind I increased the oil weight in my recipe by 100g so I could use extra for the colours without taking it out of what I needed for the base.
I always go for pinks, blues and greens so decided to try a different colour scheme this time (pink is still in there though). This was my inspiration colour palette and blobs of leftover soap next to it to compare:
Despite everything inside me screaming to ‘just SB a little bit more’, I held off and just went ahead with pouring a small base layer. I waited a little while before pouring my colours cos I felt the soap was a little too thin and that I would just end up with a muddy mess. I did quite a few passes of the colours but stopped about half an inch away from the sides. My base was still really fluid this time and I did end up with more on one side with my initial pass as I was faster with one hand!! I also decided that I wasn’t going to decorate the top this time as I wanted to keep it simple and all about the (elusive) teardrop inside. I also decided to CPOP this one as I really wanted it to gel to make the colours pop. This is the top:
I felt that if this one hadn’t worked out I really didn’t think I would have ever achieved a teardrop as I thought everything had gone as I wanted it to. I was very impatient with this one so as soon as it was in full gel I took it out of the oven and left it to cool. Once cooled I put it in the freezer so that I could get it out of the mould without damaging the corners. I ended up unmoulding and cutting the same day I made it. I was super happy with what I found inside!
I was happy with all of the bars and it’s quite possible I did a little dance in the kitchen!!
And some ‘arty’ angled shots just because!
I definitely learnt a lot from this challenge:
- Castor oil DOES speed trace – probably not enough to be an issue usually but definitely when time is of the essence.
- TD also speeds trace – again probably not enough to be an issue usually.
- Avocado oil has a distinctive green tinge.
- I need to know when to step away from the SB!
Thank you Amy for yet another VERY challenging challenge!!