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Compared with grilling up a steak or roasting veggies, baking pastries and cakes is tricky if not downright unforgiving to the uninitiated. Not only must you consider temperature and cooking time, all your ingredients need to be measured with precision, too, not to mention mixed properly, or the result will likely fall flat. According to Pure Imagination, the people behind the new $70 Perfect Bake system, creating sweet treats doesn't have to be this difficult.
Perfect Bake is a kit that combines a fancy smart kitchen scale, special bowls and a clever mobile app designed to provide clear direction for baking novices. It also promises to remove much of the guesswork and mess involved with baking at home by offering newbie pastry chefs a library of over 200 recipes that don't require the hassle, or cleanup, of traditional measuring spoons and scoops.
At the heart of the Perfect Bake system is what Pure Imagination calls the smart scale. At first glance it may look like your average kitchen scale, but what really sets this device apart is its ability to talk to smart phones and tablets. Using a modified headphone cord, you connect the scale to mobile gadgets via standard 3.5mm headphone jack. With that done you then begin your baking journey by opening a companion application (either iOS or Android). Next select the recipe you'd like to attempt by category, skill level, or through a basic search.
The app will then guide cooks step by step through the entire process. This includes everything from weighing out ingredients, dry mixing, beating eggs, stirring in milk and so on, essentially whatever a given recipe calls for. Also slick is that Perfect Bake will color-code instructions within the app to match the bundled mixing bowls. Additionally the app provides feedback in the form of an audio "ding" when the scale senses you've added the correct amount of an ingredient.
Other intelligent skills that sound particularly impressive to me revolve around how Perfect Bake will adapt to your specific situation. For instance, say you have just one small baking sheet or muffin pan in the home to work with? No problem. According to Perfect Bake's creators, you just tell the app the size and dimensions of your bakeware and the software will automatically finagle the recipe to fit.
The same is true if you discover you're down to your last cup of chocolate chips. Punch in the ingredients you do have and the application will adapt and respond with the proper proportions and will tell you how much of said concoction you can actually expect to make. Likewise, a feature called "The Pantry" will attempt to keep tabs on all the ingredients in your cupboard and list recipes it thinks you can whip up at a moment's notice.
You'll also find an oven thermometer in the Perfect Bake kit but don't get your hopes up. This gizmo is no smart sensor like the iDevices Kitchen Thermometer . The included mercury reader is merely in the box as a low-tech way to confirm the actual performance of your oven and if it needs recalibration.
Right now the only store selling the Perfect Bake system is the US retailer Brookstone, which will certainly limit the gadget's global appeal. That said, Perfect Bake representatives expect the product to come to Australia by Q1 of 2015 and to other countries and regions, including the UK sometime in 2015.
Still, for $70 the gadget promises a lot, not least of which is a path for novice bakers to seriously improve their oven wielding, bread and tart-slinging abilities. But as they say the proof is in the pudding and if Perfect Bake turns out to be merely a glorified, and pricey, kitchen scale tied to a phone app, its days may be numbered. The same is true if a free app used with a cheap $15 scale can tackle the same tasks.