This year I decided to make two different soaps to give out as Christmas presents. I made a Pumpkin Pie soap that was based on shea butter back in the summer, so it would have 5 months to cure since it didn’t have any “hard oils” like palm, lard, or tallow. It looks like pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top, and smells good enough to eat. I also decided to make fruitcake soap, to compliment the fact that my husband makes and gifts fruitcake to friends and family every year.
Most people who try my husband’s fruitcake like it, even if they profess to hate fruitcake. I’m not sure what he does different, but even I admit that it’s definitely better tasting than anything I was forced to try as a child. Giving away slices of fruitcake soap this year to match his loaves of fruitcake and continue the Christmas theme seemed perfect.
I avoided any kind of a rum fragrance (I’m not even sure how you’d do a rum fragrance but I know there’s beer fragrance out there so it probably exists). Instead, I used Brambleberry’s “Sleigh Ride” fragrance oil. The description for it off the website reads: “With a top note of orange, followed by a middle note of green apple, and winding down to peppermint and cloves, this scent is so fantastic….” and so on. It really does smell like holiday baking, and was perfect for this project.
I made three colors of soap to represent the candied fruit that’s in fruitcake. I used shine red mica from Soap Goods and made red, hydrated chrome green oxide for green, and yellow oxide for yellow (both those came from Brambleberry). Once they had cured for about a week, I chopped them roughly into cubes with my crinkle cutter and left them to cure a little longer in a bowl. In retrospect, I should have chopped them a lot finer, about half the size of what I did. The cubes were almost too big to make the project work!
I used 800g oils for the “candied fruit” and another 800g oils for the batter part. If I make this again, I will decrease how much soap I make for fruit to 600g and increase the batter or cake part to 1000g. I calculated based on how many cups the mold held that I needed 1600g oils. My recipe was as follows:
# √ Oil/Fat %
1 Apricot Kernal Oil 13%
2 Canola Oil 20%
3 Castor Oil 7%
4 Coconut Oil, 76 deg 35%
5 Lard, Pig Tallow Manteca 25%
I also used 1 tsp sugar in my lye water, and 3% or 24g of 60% sodium lactate solution as well. This was my first time using sodium lactate but I’m impressed with how easy it made it to unmold the final soap. I also included about 4 tbsp of kaolin clay in the oils pot with the fragrance oil to help anchor it, before I added the lye solution.
To the cake part, I added 2 tsp ground cinnamon. It added just enough color and texture to make it look like actual batter. Then I brought the whole mixture to a fairly thick trace so it would suspend the colored bits evenly, and put it in my silicone bundt pan. I had to stir it in the mold to get all the nooks and crannies filled, and rapped it on the counter frequently to get it to settle and get air bubbles out.
Because the bottom wasn’t completely smooth, after I unmolded it and sliced it I had to trim the bottoms of each slice. Once again, using smaller pieces of colored soap would probably have prevented this and made for a smooth bottom on the mold. Oh well. It’s still cool soap. Each slice makes a very thick chunk and I am going to advise my giftees to cut them into thirds crosswise to make smaller, dish sized slices that are more manageable. But sometimes presentation is important as function.
This is officially my 24th batch of soap. It’s weird to think I’ve only made two dozen batches. I have so many more planned for after the holidays, I will dramatically increase that number I think just rebuilding my Etsy shop and getting back on my feet. Looking forward to it!