- Jan 14, 2021
- Reaction score
I've learned about nixtamalisation like a foreign language. Corn doesn't play much of a role in the cuisine over here, and when, then it's cultural (more often than not literally pop-cultural) import: corn flakes, polenta, popcorn, tortillas. Accordingly exotic was it for me to read up the process of soaking corn in alkaline solution to prepend the digestion of the kernels with steps that our human digestive system isn't able to all by itself – perfected from pre-Columbian mesoamericans.
Try-out factor 100%! I eventually got some pickling lime to do this, and etched away the hulls from the kernels, to use them as-is (hominy) or grind them up (masa).
Well, enough prose, this is SMF in the end. I didn't just dispose of the lye after the nixtamalisation. Instead (you might have guessed) I used it to dissolve more lye into it (NaOH this time), and make it the first of three types of corn additions to a Triple Corn Soap!
I first crawled through the ever fruitful Triple Rice soap thread to decide for a process, and get a feeling what, when, and how much of corn solids to add. I came up with a fairly standard HP protocol. It's a matter of honour to use corn oil as a base oil in this soap (30% of the oils). Starting with 26% lye made with said nixtamalisation water (40%TOW), and over the course of the process, I added another 40%TOW of the liquid (mainly to compensate evaporation losses and to soften the final batter).
For the corn solids: I stirred 2%TOW yellow corn flour into the oils ahead of time. I also separated 10%TOW of the coconut oil, and mixed it with some of the nixtamalisation juice, as well as 0.6%TOW corn starch, to add just before the mashed potato phase turns into vaseline. (My conception was to not cook the starch for too long, so that it doesn't thicken up the aqueous phase and impede thorough mixing – not sure if this worked out.)
All in all, it went according to plan. What I noticed was an elevated tendency of the batter to separate into oils and a light and thin soap batter that resembles pancake batter – no idea if it's due to the corn flour?
Anyway. I cooked the soap until nearly finished; the addition of the coconut+starch mix threw me back into applejuice phase. But that's just a matter of patience. After a bit more than an hour, I was left with a nice and gloopy vaseline paste, neither relevantly thicker nor thinner than other HP pastes I've made before.
So far, the batter had been yellowish, but now in vaseline stage it became reddish-brown translucent. I didn't want to rely solely on the corn as a colourant, and it was post-cook superfat time anyway – in there went 4%TOW red palm oil! Very orange batter, but it opacified upon cooling (luv the freezer-unmoulding technique!). I'm happy with the colour, that is a bright warm yellow, just a bit too saturated to be beeswax. The soap smells slightly like nixtamalised corn (tortilla chips) – not sure how much of this odour will survive cure, but if it doesn't, I'm not sad.
You might have noticed that I have (re)stocked quite some items lately (mint EOs, NaOH, canola wax, more to come…). All these were actually just excuses to restock bubble wrap! You can never have enough bubble wrap! (well, yes, you can )
Somehow my brain decided that bubble wrap (in soap-casting most often abused for faux beehives) would make a terrific corn ear pattern. So I squeezed two stripes (oriented in the two possible ways) into the moulds and squished the soap paste in. Judge yourself how well this worked. And no, you don't have to remind me that in corn ears, the kernels point outside, not inside.
FWIW, it's not a complete failure, though, and at least I resisted buying the appropriate silicone mould.
And I promise that this will be my last corn-decorated soap showcase for a long time.