In one of my previous blog posts I shared how easy it is to make liquid hand soap out of a cold processed natural soap bar. Today’s recipe is just as easy and even takes less time.
You can buy special shaving soaps (or make your own cold processed one) but if you have lots of soap bars like I do and can’t use them up as fast as you’d like, this might be the perfect solution. Also a good way to pimp up a soap bar that you maybe didn’t like that much before. There is no need for alcohol or aggressive surfactants or paraffinic oils. If you take a look at the back of many commercial shaving creams you’ll see that they often include things you really don’t want on your skin. Natural cold processed soap bars are made from oils and are saponificated with NaOH and often are highly superfatted to prevent dry skin.
For this shaving soap I used a bar that I didn’t like that much on its own and added some coconut oil and pure aloe vera gel (for extra moisture) to the process. I you don’t have aloe vera gel or don’t want to use it you can just add an equal amount of water to the mixture.
50 g cold processed soap 100 ml water 50 ml pure aloe vera gel 1 tbsp coconut oil
a few drops essential oil (optional)
Grind the soap bar or chuck it in a food processor. The soap should be really fine, otherwise it won’t melt easily. Heat the water with the soap and oil in a medium sized saucepan on low heat until the soap has completely melted. You really need to stir a lot because of the small amount of water. Mine turned into a thick paste really quickly and the soap was dissolved almost immediately. Be careful not to let it burn! It might form little lumps at the bottom which may seem like unmelted soap. If you touch them, you’ll see that those lumps are actually more like a paste and it means the soap flakes have dissolved already. Stir in the aloe vera and keep it a little bit longer on the stove until everything is incorporated properly. Take it off the heat and set aside to let it cool down.
Unlike the liquid hand soap I have made, the shaving cream doesn’t need to gel up for a few days. I gave it a stir every few hours and it had set completely after a day. If you don’t stir it so frequently it might take a little bit longer. When the soap has set, whip it up by hand or with a mixer and add some essential oil if your soap wasn’t scented. It will be really smooth, creamy and easy to apply. Best is to keep it in a small tin in the bathroom.
If you have read my last posts you know that I am into natural soaps and homemade cosmetics at the moment. I have to confess that I ordered another natural soap made with lots of sea salt and evening primrose oil against blemishes. Although its salt content is high, the bar is really soft and the smell is great. My face seems to like it a lot and I think it is due to the lack of olive oil.
But back to the topic of this post. Now, the problem is, that I have acquired quite a few soap bars by now and they don’t get used up that quickly. Also I should mention that there might be more natural soaps on my Christmas wish list but lets not talk about that. As our liquid hand soap reached its end, I wondered if it would be possible to make liquid hand soap out of one of the bars. I did some research on the Internet and found quite a few tutorials for liquid hand soap. Most of them either used normal soap (the kind I don’t want to use anymore) or some special liquid castile soap. So I thought I just give it a try with one of my natural soaps to see how it goes. The whole process took a few days (don’t worry, most of the time you don’t have to do anything) but in the end I had a nice creamy soap. It might be more expensive than buying a normal liquid one but there won’t be any alcohol or additives in it since the natural soaps are saponificated with oils and NaOH.
For the recipe I used my big Aleppo bar with olive and laurel oil. Let’s get to work! You can easily double the amount if you want to.
60 g natural soap
600 ml water
1 tbsp coconut oil
essential oils (optional)
Grate the soap into small flakes and put it into a big pot with coconut oil and water. If you have soap rests you can also chop them up and put them in. Heat everything on the stove on medium heat and wait until all the soap had dissolved. This will take a while so you might want to grab a chair and read while stirring once in a while. You’ll need some patience but the soap will melt at some point. The small flakes might even melt instantly but bigger pieces will need a bit longer. I am not sure if it matters if the mixture boils or not but I kept it below boiling point just in case.
Once everything has melted take the pot from the heat, put a lid on and wait. Wait a long time. You can check it after 24 hours but I had to leave mine for 3/4 days (I lost count) before the whole thing gelled up completely. Stir the mixture once every day. At the beginning it will look like soap water. When I checked it after a day I thought actually thought this was a fail but I left it in the pot just to be sure. After the first disappointing look, it started to look different every time I checked. The bottom looked a bit slimy while the top was still soap water. After a few days it looked like jelly and that’s when you can continue with the next step.
Pour the jelly in a mixing bowl or in a food processor and add some drops of your favourite essential oil if you like. Don’t use too much! It also depends if the bar you used was already scented or not. Mix it with a hand mixer or the food processor until everything is creamy.
Liquid soap done! You can now pour it in your soap dispenser. I had too much for mine so I poured the rest in a glass bottle. After half a day mine started to separate into three layers in the dispenser and bottle. First I thought I had done a mistake with the recipe or it just didn’t work with natural soap after all. I poured the soap from the bottle back in the food processor (the bottom was really liquid and the top like jelly again), mixed it up once more and poured it back into the bottle. It didn’t separate again after that, so I decided to give the soap dispenser only a good shake to mix it up again and that seemed to do the trick already. No need for the food processor after all. So I don’t know if I hadn’t mixed it up properly the first time or why it had separated again but after that the soft creamy foam gelled up completely and has stayed like that since. So in case your soap might do the same (although I think it might have to do with the Aleppo bar I used), don’t give up and pour it away! You will just have to shake it up another time.
The liquid soap that I made was supposed to be for washing hands but actually you can also use it as a shower gel or even shampoo, depending on what kind of soap you used for the recipe. The Aleppo bar I had can be used on the body, face or as a shampoo bar, so there aren’t any limitations to the liquid one either.
I think next time I will try to do a similar recipe with less water. I should get a thicker “whipped” soap that could be used as a shaving soap.
I made this a while ago when Tiia and I had an indoor picnic. The shortbread was really easy to make and my first try turned out really well.
Today, as the sun is shining into the living room, I decided to make another batch so I could post the recipe here. It’s taken from Annie Bells’ “The Picnic Cookbook”, which offers a lot of fresh and easy recipes for picnics, barbecues and parties.
The shortbread is a basic recipe which you can adjust however you like. Add more lemon to make lemon shortcake or orange zest, chocolate…basically whatever you feel like. I’m thinking about making a lime coconut one next time. Enough with the talking, here is the recipe:
150 g butter, softened (I used salted)
75 g sugar
9 drops lavender oil
150 plain flour
75 g rice flour
zest of one lemon
dried lavender flowers
Preheat the oven to 150°C and grease a baking tin. I used a 26 ∅ cm springform. It makes quite thin shortbreads, so if you want them thicker, you should use a smaller tin.
Whisk the butter with the sugar and add the lavender oil. I only used 9 drops (the book recommended 15) because lavender tastes quite strong and I didn’t want to get the feeling of eating soap. I would advise to taste the batter after a few drops to see if it’s not too much for you.
Add the flours, lemon zest and a few dried lavender flowers. Part of my rice flour was self-made since I had made rice milk from roasted rice last week. I let the leftovers dry and then ground them in the food processor. It was still more coarse than the bought one, but it seemed to be really nice for the crumbliness of the shortbread. However, you can of course just use normal rice flour.
When everything is mixed, it should be all crumbly.
Press it into the tin but be careful not to compress it too much. It should be still crumbly.
Bake for 30 minutes, then put the oven off and leave the shortbread there for another 5 minutes. Take it out, sprinkle some sugar on top and some more lavender flowers. Let it cool down before removing the tin and cutting the shortbread. Enjoy!
Christmas is coming up and as I’ve gotten older it has been getting more difficult to find something nice for everybody. So every year I’m looking for nice little things that I can do myself.
I love bath bombs and they make pretty presents but unfortunately they are quite expensive in the stores. So I looked for a cheap alternative and decided to make them on my own. Sadly enough we don’t have a bathtub anymore so someone else has to enjoy them. For a few days now I couldn’t decide if I should publish these on the blog or not since friends and family with a bathtub will now know what they’ll be getting for Christmas. On the other hand people might read it and decide to give away some bath bombs themselves. Either way, I am sure people will enjoy them nonetheless.
Since this is the first time I tried making bath bombs, I used a simple recipe. It was enough for 14 hearts and three bath bombs.
2 cups baking soda
1 cup corn starch
1 cup citric acid (you can buy that in the baking section of bigger stores or in the pharmacy)
oil of your choice (I used coconut oil)
spray bottle with water
herbs, fragrances and food colouring (powder or liquid)
moulds (I used acrylic moulds from the craft store which are used for Christmas baubles etc.)
Mix all the dry ingredients together on a big plate. Using your hands will be easier with determining the right amount of moisture later. If you want to make two batches you can split the mixture in half. Then you can add the colour and fragrances. I added some green colour, herbs, Christmas spices and some drops orange oil which is normally used for baking. When everything is mixed properly, add spoon after spoon of melted coconut oil (or other oil) and spray the mixture with a bit of water. Be really careful with the amount of liquid you use. It should only be moist enough to stick together in the end. Don’t spray too much water on it or it will start to fizz a lot! The mixture is moist enough when it feels like wet sand. It’s just like building a sand castle!
Take a small hand full of the mixture and press it really firmly into a mould. You can make a half, like I did with the hearts, or you can use a whole mold to make balls for example. Just make sure it’s really firmly packed! Then put the mould with the “dough” on a tray with baking paper. The bath bombs should come out easily. You can squeeze the acrylic mould a little to let it slide out. If it crumbles you can start over again or even make it a bit more moist.
For the pink ones I put some lavender oil and for the colour some red mineral blush. Mineral make up in general is fine and works really well.
Let everything dry at least overnight. If some shapes happen to get little cracks, you can rub your finger over it and make it disappear. None of mine broke so far but the balls have gotten some cracks where they’re moulded together. They still seem to hold up pretty well.
Here it is – finally! My newest macaron experiment, this time with a flower theme. I don’t understand why making macarons is so addictive, but there is just something there. Maybe it’s the endless possibilities with the fillings combined with the adorable and chic looks?
This time I also wanted to experiment with two different types of recipes. I had preferred a recipe that used almost equal amounts of almond flour and egg white, while Stef used one with less egg white and more powder sugar. So I wanted to compare which one suits me and our oven better – the lavender ones (the white ones) are made with Stef’s recipe and the rose ones (the pink ones) with mine.
I think I after all prefer Stef’s recipe, it seems to suit our not-so-good-quality oven in our rental apartment. My recipe seemed to rise in the oven a bit too fast, which resulted in a thin crust and a bit of a hollow inside. This might be avoided by having the oven on 150°C and then putting it down to 140°C right after the macarons go in.
Enough with the rambling, here are the recipes! My recipe is a modification of the one on Mansikkamäki (in Finnish) and Stef’s is originally from französischkochen.de (in German, I doubled the amount).
100 g almond flour
110 g egg whites (around 3 M sized eggs)
200 g powder sugar
4 tbsp sugar
Food colouring (paste or powder)
Flavouring if you want some (eg. vanilla sugar)
Mature the egg whites by leaving them in room temperature for a day or two. You should do that with four eggs (one more than in the recipe), because a bit evaporates.
Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Mix the almond flour and the powder sugar together. If your almond flour is somewhat coarse like ours was, you should make it finer in a food processor (mix an equal amount of sugar and flour, otherwise the almond flour will turn into butter). Sieve the mixture to get rid of any clumps.
Beat the egg whites until they start getting a bit foamy. Add the food colouring and the flavouring. Also add the sugar one spoonful at a time while beating the egg whites. Whisk until the foam is thick and glossy and you can put the bowl upside down without it dripping. It needs to be really dense, but be careful not to overbeat it. I’ve heard copper or ceramic bowls work better with egg whites, but normal plastic ones are okay.
Fold the almond and powder sugar gently with a silicone scraper into the egg white foam. Don’t put it all in at once, but a third at a time.
Put the mixture in a piping bag and prepare the tray with the baking paper. Hold the piping bag vertically to the tray. Keep it still while squeezing the dough into about 2 cm little buttons. To get rid of the bubbles in the dough, drop the tray from 20 cm height onto the table. Don’t be scared of the noise! This makes the macarons more smooth. Let them rest for half an hour. They should get a matte surface in this time.
Put the macarons in the oven for 13 minutes. Take the baking paper off the hot tray, but leave the macarons on the paper for 10 minutes. This way they will not stick to the paper and won’t break once you take them off.
90 g almond flour
150 g powder sugar
72 g egg whites (around 2 eggs)
20 g sugar
Food colouring (paste or powder)
Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Mix the almond flour and the powder sugar together and blend it in a food processor. The bought almond flour is usually still too coarse and blending it together with the sugar will prevent it from becoming almond butter. Sieve it through a fine strainer to get rid of any clumps.
Beat the egg whites. Once they start getting foamy, add the sugar and the colouring. Don’t use liquid colours!
When the eggs are beaten you can add 1/3 of the almond/sugar mixture at a time. Use a wooden spoon or a plastic/silicone scraper and fold the mixture slowly into the dough. When everything is mixed, add the next part until all the almond flour is incorporated.
Prepare a baking sheet and form little 2 cm macaron buttons with a piping bag. Drop the tray from 20 cm height to get rid of the air bubbles in the dough. Let them rest for 15 – 20 minutes. The hats need to develop a little crust so the macarons will have nice little feet later.
Put the macarons in the oven, putting the temperature down to 140°C and bake them for 15 minutes.
After taking them out, immediately take the sheet with the macarons off the hot tray. After 10 minutes of resting, you should be able to take them off easily.
Lavender Honey Buttercream Filling
Butter (room temperature)
Lavender oil (make sure it’s 100% lavender extract, not the one you use for making soaps etc.)
Whisk the butter (around 75 – 100 g of butter should be enough) and sieve in powder sugar until it has a soft but firm texture. If it’s too soft, add more sugar. Add honey and lavender to your taste. Be careful with the lavender, a tiny drop already has a lot of flavour!
If you keep the buttercream in the fridge, it might get too firm for piping. Leave it in room temperature for a bit before you intend to use it.
Rose Sirup And Chocolate Ganache Filling
For white chocolate ganache:
100 g white chocolate
50 ml cream
For dark chocolate ganache:
100 g dark chocolate
100 ml cream
Salt and powder sugar to taste
I made the rose sirup the previous summer from fresh rose petals. Unfortunately I didn’t write the recipe down but a normal sugar sirup mixed with rose water or essence should be the same.
To make the ganache, heat the cream in a kettle to boiling point. Take it off the heat and put the previously cut chocolate in. At this point you can add some salt and powder sugar in the dark chocolate ganache, to cut back the bitterness. Stir until everything is melted and smooth. Mix it with a hand blender to make it more fluffy; be careful not to put too much air into it. Let it cool down in the fridge for two hours or even overnight. If you use it the next day it will be really stiff. You can take it out earlier so it softens up in room temperature or you can put it in the microwave for just a couple of seconds. Whip it with the mixer until it gets a bit lighter in colour and a bit more creamy. Don’t overbeat it or the cream will get clumpy.
Pipe a ganache ring onto the macaron and pour some sirup in the middle. If you have too much ganache, you can just freeze it and use it later.
You can also freeze the macaron shells and even already the filled ones. The buttercream ones need to defrost a bit in room temperature before you can eat them.