A new kitchen scale system called Drop hopes to take some of the terror out of baking by harnessing the power of the Internet and Bluetooth.
Drop looks like a design-y kitchen scale, with a red top draped like a layer of fondant frosting over the white base. It's a clean design—in part because it has no display. The display has been outsourced to an iOS device, preferably an iPad, by connecting that device to the Drop via Bluetooth. This is less crazy than it sounds. Admittedly, I'm a professional tech dork, but I've had a stand for my iPad in the kitchen for years and have found it to be a great tool for finding and displaying recipes or for playing an episode of Top Chef while I hopefully chop onions.
The Drop works like a regular scale, with the weight displayed on an iPad instead of on the scale itself. But what makes Drop so useful is the fact that it takes the decision-making out of the baking process: It's designed to be used in concert with special recipes included in the app. (On the other hand, for now that limits you to the recipes in the app, which serious bakers won't appreciate.)
Instead of finding a recipe and measuring things yourself, your first step with Drop is to simply put a mixing bowl on the scale and then select a recipe on your iPad from the Drop app. Then the app will tell you exactly what to do: Add more flour. Keep going. A little more. Stop! A little less. Perfect. It'll offer you alternative ingredients if you have allergies or if you're simply out of an ingredient. (Can you replace buttermilk with regular milk? Nope, but yogurt might work.)
Drop leads you through recipes step by step; you never have to actually touch the app, since it'll just move onto the next step once you've properly measured each ingredient. It also has handy tools to reduce the number of servings. (That can cause problems when doing it yourself; you can't just divide all ingredients in half to get half as many servings. Baking is chemistry, so without the right volume of certain ingredients, your final product won't rise or crisp or brown or melt properly.)
So you follow Drop's recipes right up through the mixing and preparation process, and then stick the concoction in the oven. Drop will even tell you when your baked good is finished by sending an alert to your app. No need to have an Internet-connected oven! Drop says they'll have about 500 recipes at launch, and they're working on some way to convert other recipes into special Drop recipes. From the screenshots we've seen, the built-in selection is pretty good, ranging from cakes and cookies to savory scones and breads, but we definitely hope they get that add-your-own recipe feature in soon.