Pure Imagination Perfect Bake review: Bake up your favorites with Pure Imagination's Perfect Bake

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I am a novice baker, but I managed to make perfectly edible, if not quite delicious, lemon bars and a flourless chocolate cake with Perfect Bake. Both recipes came courtesy of the app's database and they provided all of the information I needed from start to finish. Before you even start baking, the recipe outlines the prep needed, a description of the thing you want to make and the ingredients, cookware and tools you'll need.

If you have all of the necessary ingredients, but don't have the right baking dish, you can adjust the size and shape of the pan you're using in the app. And if you don't have the right quantity of, say, flour, it will auto-scale the recipe for you. So, if the lemon bar default recipe calls for 143 grams of all-purpose flour, but you only have 121 grams, you can select "scale recipe" and it will recalculate everything for you. That's an awesome feature -- no stoichiometry needed.

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Adding butter to the lemon bar recipe. Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Once you're all set on prep, you can begin adding ingredients to the scale. The app color-codes the steps based on the color of bowl you should use and as you add an ingredient the block "fills up." Once you've added the right amount, it will ding and a check mark will appear, a sign that you've added just the right amount. And don't worry if you add too much -- it will let you know and give you the opportunity to scoop out the excess and salvage your recipe. Perfect Bake's scale is very sensitive, too; it sensed a quarter teaspoon of salt as easily as a whole egg.

The one mistake I made there was navigating away from the recipe within the app while a timer was running -- that will cancel the timer and the progress you've made in the recipe. But, if you navigate away from the app, while keeping the recipe page open, the timer will continue to count and it will still alert you when it's done. That means that you can't start another recipe while your existing one is still "in progress," but you can access other parts of your phone or tablet, as needed.

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Flourless chocolate cake. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Perfect Bake is very similar to the Drop Kitchen Scale . This iOS-only scale does have one interesting feature that I didn't find in the Perfect Bake app. If you are missing an ingredient, Drop will supposedly tell you what you might have hanging around your kitchen that you can use as a substitute. For example, if the recipe calls for buttermilk, but you don't have any, you might be able to use regular milk and a small amount of lemon juice instead. That would definitely be a nice addition to the Perfect Bake functionality.

The verdict

Pure Imagination's $70 Perfect Bake kit is exclusively available at Brookstone stores in the US, with plans to expand to Australia and the UK in 2015. It's definitely a specialized product, but I think budding bakers and families with youngsters would enjoy Perfect Bake's interactivity and precision. If you like to deviate from recipes and do your own thing, Perfect Bake isn't for you, but for those of us who might otherwise be intimated by the prospect of baking a flourless chocolate cake, Perfect Bake gives you what you need to make it happen.