I have always been mildly envious of television-show chefs who show up on set and have all their ingredients already laid out for them in neat bowls and cups, prepped by assistants. I'll never have my own cooking show, but I may some day have my own baking prep cook in the form of a PantryChic, a kitchen gadget recently launched on Kickstarter.
Baking is one of those endeavors where accuracy can sometimes make or break a recipe. The American way of measuring by volume isn't nearly as precise as measuring by weight. However, most of our cookbooks have recipes with cup measurements. Bakers don't want to spend a lot of time doing conversions; they just want to bake.
PantryChic automates all of that by holding dry ingredients in special canisters, converting measures from volume to weight, and dispensing into a bowl. The canisters are equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, and the machine recognizes 50 preprogrammed ingredients.
PantryChic has a functioning prototype and is looking to raise $50,000 to go into production. With 29 days to go, the project is at over $15,000. The gadget is going for a $229 pledge, which includes the dispensing system and two canisters. Additional canisters cost $108 for a four-pack of two large and two medium canisters. This could certainly add up if you're looking to have canisters holding 50 different ingredients, but most bakers will probably settle for holding a few different basics like flour and sugar.
I've been a successful baker, turning out yeast breads, muffins, quick breads, cookies, and hand-made pizzas with my hopelessly old-fashioned measuring cups and the hired muscle of a KitchenAid stand mixer. I enjoy getting flour up to my elbows, but I can still see the appeal of a PantryChic for easing bakers into working with more accurate weight rather than volume measures of ingredients.
The lure of less mess and faster prep should attract backers to the project, so long as they don't mind making room in the budget and on the counter for one more kitchen gadget.