Très Miel (Superfatted)

Très Miel

Très Miel (Superfatted)
Contents | Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Water, Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii), Sodium Hydroxide, Oat Milk, Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis), Castor Oil (Ricinus communis), Honey, Ground Oats, Fragrance, Cane Sugar.

Sample bar weight: Approx 65 gms (start of curing)
Full bar weight: Approx 129 gms (start of curing)

Curing completion date | 30 March

Visit the soap store here for more info on the ingredients.

You can’t really see the granulated sugar on the top but this was totally unexpected. As of now (over six hours after unmoulding and slicing), the soap still hasn’t changed colour and I must say that I love its creamy appearance. Lets see if time will change that.

In the meantime, I’m awaiting the arrival of supplies for my next batch of soap – I’ll be redoing my chocolate marble soap but with some changes to it, namely the swirl factor. I’m also gravitating back and forth between an all-palm free line or having just one or two soaps with palm oil (certified bio, of course). I have to consider the cost as palm oil alternatives like shea, cocoa and mango butter are more expensive.

By the way, do you see anything different with the content and the site’s menu? Hehehe.

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If you don’t succeed…

Très Miel: Loaf saponifying

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That’s Très Miel (Very Honey) saponifying away. It is my second try – my first ended up in the bin. I kid you not. I threw away 700 gms of oil made up of oils and butters like coconut, olive, shea, sweet almond and castor oil not to mention oat powder, honey fragrance and honey and took some time out from catching up with my TV series (thank you, vlc player!) to redo this again.

You see, I wanted to use oatmilk in place of water as my liquid base so without thinking, I decided on 100% oatmilk. The end result was a lye-milk base that looked like cookie dough. On hindsight, I should have just trashed the lye mix and redo it (thus I wouldn’t waste the oil base) but I wanted to see what would happen if I dumped this “dough” into my oil mix. I ended up with soap that was a little on the oily side, had flakes all over from I don’t know what and it just looked awful. None of that smooth creamy appearance that I’d normally get. I didn’t want to rebatch it so I dumped it.

Then I decided to do a little bit more reading and research. After hunting online for more information and relooking at my recipe plus technique, I decided to try again but this time I used less oatmilk (20% – I’ll be aiming for 50% in my next round) and added it in before trace together with the honey. I also soaped at a lower temperature instead of my usual temperature.

The result is what you see above – the top is sprinkled with granulated cane sugar just to give it a textured appearance. I can’t wait to unmould this tomorrow morning! Hehehe. All in all, I’m glad I experimented – making mistakes is part and puzzle of soapmaking.

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Panax (Superfatted)

Panax: Sliced bar

Panax (Superfatted)
Contents | Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Water, Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Mango Butter (Mangifera indica), Sodium Hydroxide, Castor Oil (Ricinus communis), Essential Oil (Ylang Ylang, May Chang, 4 Thieves), Ginseng Powder, Coix Seed Powder, Cinnamon Powder.

Sample bar weight: Approx 55 gms (start of curing)
Full bar weight: Approx 105 gms (start of curing)

Curing completion date | 28 March

Visit the soap store here for more info on the ingredients.

Surprisingly, Panax turned out quite nice despite the crazy pseudo-trace phenomenon I got. I’ll need to soap at a higher temperature (at least 135°F) in order for this to not occur again. Yes, I have decided to keep this recipe as I’d like to have a couple of palm-free soaps. As I would expect, the soap was pretty hard when I unmold this morning (18 hours after bedding) so I could stamp this two hours later and not end up with a distorted image.

This will be the last batch in which the bars are less than 1 inch/2.5 cm thick. I will be going back to cutting 2.5 cm thick bars which will give me around 8 full bars IF I don’t decide to make any samples. At the moment, I am getting five 2.25 cm full bars and five 1.5 cm sample bars. If I go back to cutting 2.5 cm bars, my sample bars will probably be thinner. I intend to make about four to five sample bars per loaf so how I slice up my next loaf will be crucial.

I have been receiving a lot of push to sell my soaps once they are done curing. I am still a bit hesitant because I’m new at this and I don’t want to mess around with people’s skin. On top of that, I’m wary of any possible incidents of rash, allergic reactions and so forth – not that I think it’ll happen. I test all my soaps before I give them out to people to make sure that it’s lye-free and safe for use.

Maybe I am overthinking it. I have everything set up – website, Facebook page, albums, etc. I just need to sum up the courage to announce it officially.

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The super fast trace soap

Panax: Loaf

I think I’m starting to build a collection of “mistake” soap batches. First I had overheated soap, then I had soap that traced ultra quick – thanks to fragrance oils – and today, I had soap that traced immediately the moment the lye hit the base oils! I soaped at 40 C and just poured in the lye as usual. Turned around to put the container for the lye into the sink. When I turned back, I could see that the soap batter looked different. OMIGOD, is that what I think it is?

I scrambled to take out my stick blender and stir it with the spatula instead. Within a minute, it hit medium trace so that meant tossing the essential oils in, mixing them well, pouring half into the mould before I toss in the cinnamon and some oil into the remaining batch. By the time I got the top layer in, it looked like thick trace! What is going on????

I suspect it’s either the lye, additives (powders) or the mango butter so I’m going to try this base again. I added in the powders (ginseng and coix seed) to the base oils. Normally it would just sink and that’s about it. As for the mango butter, it was softer than the type I got so I’m wondering if that’s the reason as to why it just went crazy. In terms of lye, I used pre-made lye – I have used this with my previous soaps so I’ll change this first since the previous soap traced pretty fast as well.

The loaf doesn’t look as pale as it was when I snapped the picture as it gelled about two hours ago. I’ll unmold this tomorrow morning and see if it comes out alright. If not, it’s either going into the rebatch pot or bin – depends on how bad it is. In the meantime, I’m going to hold my breath, focus on syntheroid reviews and wait. Hai.

Panax: Peaked tops

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Pompom!

Noah's new pompom hat

Pompom!
Pattern | Pompom Bear by Amanda Keeys (0-6 mths)
Yarn | 100purewool.com Merino Worsted 3 ply in Blue & Bluish
Needles | 6 mm circulars
Ravelry project page here

Noah’s current hat is getting a little tight around the ribbing and he has long been unable to fit into his Bluey Hat so I decided to make him another (blue) hat! I didn’t want to start using a fresh ball of yarn so decided to go with whatever that was left. This plus Koolhaas ate one entire skein so I’m a happy camper – no more bits and pieces of yarn to deal with.

Definitely a fast knit (I finished in under two days but you could do it in less than a couple of hours if you didn’t have other distractions) and a great way to use up all that leftover yarn! Can’t wait to get him in it tomorrow when we head out to buy some fruits.

In the meantime, the Malaysian group of knitters have decided to start a group project – a granny square throw – for a fellow member as a wedding present. Each person is supposed to crochet two 8″ squares in lilac or pink. While my stash has some of these colours, they are mostly in wool or non-machine washable yarn. I ended up selecting my handspun yarn for the squares. Figured that since the skein is too small for any other project, it should give me two nice squares. We’ll see how it goes.

The yarn for a group crochet piece

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Marble Cream Cheese Loaf

Marble Cream Cheese Loaf

Eva woke up a little earlier than usual no thanks to the lengthening days – a sign that winter is slowly coming to an end. At first I delayed getting her up and kept telling her to go back to sleep. Finally, I got fed up and decided to do something about it – make a cake. It’s crazy to make one considering that it’s just the two of us eating for the next nine days but I thought why not? It would be fun for her…and sure enough, it was. At least the clean-up bit. She got to lick the spatula clean. Before that, it was going bonkers sniffing the cocoa powder, the sugar, tasting the cream cheese, the creamed butter…well, you get the idea.

Anyway, I have always known that if I stop baking for a while, my skills start rusting. It was true with this one. While I’ve always favoured the use of cane sugar over refined white sugar (castor sugar) because of its less processed qualities and better flavour, the biggest con about using granulated cane sugar is that it takes forever to “melt” and discolours when creaming. Instead of ending up with a smooth and fluffy pale creamed butter, I end up with a pale tan and gritty creamed butter. The grits comes from the sugar, in case you’re wondering. That aside, I’ve always used this gritty mix in my cakes and they still come out fine. Still, seeing pictures of fluffy pale creamed butter always sends me into a panic.

The original recipe for this loaf calls for extra sugar and water. Unlike Annie, I used medium sized eggs which probably accounts for a thicker batter. So I had to improvise and added in some milk in both the cake and cheese batter. The result is a rather spongy and moist cake that is rich in chocolate flavour as well as crunch. The timing was a bit iffy on this one – maybe because I used a loaf pan instead of a round pan like in Annie’s recipe. I tested with my trust cake skewer after 50 minutes when it look a bit browned and cracked a little on the top (typical with loaf pans) and it came out clean. So I turned it off and let it baked for another 5 minutes in the oven. It went even darker so I pulled it out and left it to cool. I suspect that the full 60 minutes would have burnt my cake. My advice? Check on your cake after 50 minutes and test.

But otherwise, enjoy! Me? I’m going to have a slice while surfing the Net for narrow shoes. Hehehehe.

NOTE: Do not overfill your loaf pan – this has a tendency to rise due to the use of self-raising flour AND the addition of baking powder.

Marble Cream Cheese Loaf
From House of Annie’s recipe here

Ingredients

(A) Chocolate portion
180 gms butter
Approx 150 gms sugar
3 eggs
120 gms self-raising flour
3-4 tbsp milk – optional
1 tsp baking powder

(B) Cream cheese portion
250 gms cream cheese
Approx 55 gms sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 tbsp milk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare a loaf pan.
  2. Cream the soften butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy before adding in the eggs one by one. When ready and well incorporated, fold in the dry ingredients (cocoa powder, flour and baking powder) by hand. Do not use a mixer for this step as it can result in a dense cake. Add the milk if the batter is too thick (it should be fluid like soft whipped cream). Place aside once done.
  3. In a separate dish, mix ingredients (B) until well incorporated.
  4. Pour in half of the chocolate cake batter, followed by half of the cream cheese batter and repeat until all the batter is used up. Using a spatula or skewer/stick, swirl around in figure 8 or criss-cross to create a marble or swirl effect. Be careful not to overdo this otherwise you’ll end up with pale mocha coloured cake.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes – test using a toothpick (it should come out clean if cooked). Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan. Once cooled, unmould and enjoy. This should be able to keep for a few days at room temperature in an airtight container or a few weeks if frozen/refrigerated.
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Only on Mondays…

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Of lately, we have been going out to either run errands or get groceries. I rarely have a chance to take pictures of this town which I have called home for the last couple of months. Since Nil isn’t around for the next week or so (which means that I don’t have to worry about putting lunch on the table by 1230 noon every week day), I thought we could head out for a stroll around town, get some pictures, etc.

We got to a good start but unfortunately towards the end, I don’t know whether it was because it was cold (it was windy – 20 kmh – and temps were around 0-2°C), Noah started fussing so we cut out trip short and returned home by 11am. We’ll probably head out again with the camera tomorrow if the weather continues to be good. It’s Tuesday and that means market day!

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Greyscale (Superfat)

Greyscale: Sliced Bars

Greyscale (Superfat)
Contents | Olive Oil (Olea europaea), Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Palm Oil (Elaeis guineensis)(*), Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Bamboo Charcoal, Rice Powder, Fragrance.

Sample bar weight: Approx 63 gms (start of curing)
Full bar weight: Approx 115 gms (start of curing)

Curing completion date | 20 March

Visit the soap store here for more info on the ingredients.

* Ingredients sourced from sustainable and/or organic farming

I wanted to experiment with embeds – cubes, to be exact and used sample bars from my previous soaps. Because I don’t use oxides or micas as a colorants, I didn’t have a lot of choice – my soaps are mostly tan, creamy yellow, black-brown or light green. So I settled with tan and creamy yellow. I tossed in some Japanese bamboo charcoal, reducing the amount. The last time I added in 50% more and had a crappy time washing things out. This time, clean-up was easy but as you can see, the colour is not very strong. Still, I like the combination (reminds me of pandora beads jewellery!) even though I’m tempted to go for a full-on black next time.

Greyscale: Loaf

I also added in some rice powder, a traditional Asian beauty ingredient. Rice powder not only brightens skin but also has moisturizing and water retaining effects on the skin. It is alleged to help increase the production of collagen for younger looking skin.

This is my third loaf using fragrance oils at trace and it went ultra thick within minutes. I barely had time to pour it into my mould and toss in my soap cubes before pouring in the next layer. I wasn’t even pouring the top layer on! It was more like scooping and trying to smooth and smoosh everything together. While thick trace allows me to get peaks as you can see from the picture above (I spritzed the entire log with 90% alcohol to prevent thick layers of ash but I still got some ash anyway – no biggies, it adds that rustic appearance), it also means that I got some air pockets as you can see below. It’s just an aesthetic/appearance thing. The soap will still do its job, just doesn’t look all that “perfect” especially when one side of the soap has no air pockets and the other side does. Heh.

I might be taking a break from soapmaking as Nil has left for Poland and that means I’m alone with the kids for 10 days. I have to play catch-up with my other hobbies, particularly my knitting. My WIPs are starting to pile up and I really do need to finish Eva’s sweater. She won’t be able to wear it this season so hopefully I’ll be able to get it done in time for spring.

Greyscale: Pockets from pouring at thick trace.

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