While you have some wiggle room when it comes to baking (adding extra chocolate chips, for example, is always an acceptable recipe deviation), precision is key. You simply can't fling ingredients with reckless abandon and always expect an optimal result (I've tried). That's why so many folks champion the kitchen scale.
In spite of this, Americans tend to shirk the scale in favor of measuring cups -- whether they're quickly whipping up pancake batter or spending hours on that expert-level recipe they found on Epicurious.
Maybe it's because food scales seem unnecessarily fussy; many of us have managed to make baked goods without them for this long, so why mess with a new kitchen implement now? The truth is you don't need a scale to make a decent cake, but it will do more to ensure that it comes out as expected Every. Single. Time. And Pure Imagination's $70 Perfect Bake kit is a perfect extension of this philosophy (this converts to £45/AU80). Its app-connected kitchen scale chimes when you've added the correct amount of each ingredient so anyone looking for a little extra help -- or just a more interactive baking experience -- has a fun, accurate alternative.
Get your bake on
The Perfect Bake kit includes a digital food scale, three bowls, an oven thermometer and a stand for your Android or iOS device. None of the components feels particularly high-quality or seem particularly well-designed, but I didn't expect too much for 70 bucks. Still, the essentials are there: the scale is responsive, the bowls come in small, medium and large sizes, the thermometer is the same standard model you can find for a few dollars in most kitchen supply shops and the plastic stand lets you easily access the app while baking.
The app is thoughtfully laid out and packed full of features that make baking a breeze. It has a fairly exhaustive recipe index -- the options range from simple stuff like waffles to more complex concoctions, like a browned-butter carrot cake with a butter-and-sage-cream-cheese frosting. Yum. And if those recipes aren't enough, you can edit existing ones and add brand-new ones to create your own custom database.
There's also a pantry feature. This is a virtual inventory of the ingredients you have on-hand at home, which the app can use to tell you exactly which recipes you can make without having to take a trip to the store. Once you've zeroed in on the thing you want to make, you simply press "bake" and plug the scale into your device's headphone jack (I used an iPad Mini). Then press the On button on the scale. When it reads "Pour," you're ready to bake.
The app will walk you through every detail from prep to weighing your ingredients for you and offering built-in timers that tell you how long to mix, cook, bake, cool and chill your freshly prepared dessert item. It also has a very detailed reference section that provides explanations on every aspect of the app and its functionality, including video tutorials and photos with descriptions of essential baking cookware.