More people are making sourdough at home than ever before, and while it may not take a lot of effort to find a decent recipe, it’s quite another thing to try using recipes to figure out how and why bread actually works. Thankfully, [Makefast Workshop] has turned copious research and hundreds of trials into a dynamic sourdough (and semi-sourdough) bread recipe chock-full of of drop-down options to customize not just ingredients, but baking methods and other recipe elements as well. Want to adjust quantities or loaf styles? Play with hydration or flour type? It’s all right there, and they even have quick-set options for their personal favorites.
In order to do all this, [Makefast Workshop] needed to understand bread at a deeper level than is usually called for. During research, they observed that the format of recipes was often an obstacle to understanding how good bread actually gets made. The reason for this is simple: recipes are presented as standalone documents describing a fixed process; a set of specific steps that, when followed, yield a particular result. What they do not normally do is describe the interplay and balance between ingredients and processes, which makes it difficult to understand how and why exactly the recipe produces what it does. Without that knowledge, it’s impossible to know what elements can be adjusted, and how. The dynamic recipe changes all that.
[Makefast Workshop] performed hundreds of tests, dialing in parameters one by one, to gain the insights needed to populate their dynamic recipe. It’s got clear processes and drop-down options that dynamically update not just the recipe steps, but also the URL. This means that one can fiddle the recipe to one’s desire, then simply copy and paste the URL to keep track of what one has baked.
We hear fables of how to restore the crispness to your crisp and the crackle to your crackers, but they are more hot air than some of the methods. We found one solution that has some teeth though, and it doesn’t require any kitchen appliances, just a pair of headphones. Keep reading before you mash potato chips into your Beats. [Charles Spence] co-authors a paper with [Massimiliano Zampini] titled The Role of Auditory Cues in Modulating the Perceived Crispness and Staleness of Potato Chips. It’s a mouthful, so folks refer to it as the “Sonic Chip Experiment,” which rolls off the tongue. The paper is behind paywalls, but you can find it if you know where to look.
The experiment puts participants in some headphones while they eat Pringles, and researchers feed them different sound waves. Sometimes the sound file is a recording of crackly chewing, and other times it is muffled mastication. The constant was the Pringles, which are a delight for testing because they are uniform. Participants report that some chips are fresher than others. This means we use our ears to help judge consumable consistency. Even people who knew all about the experiment report they can willingly fool themselves with the recordings.
What other foods would benefit from the augmented crunch, and which ones would suffer? If shapely food is your jam, we have a holy cookie which is probably best enjoyed with your eyes. If you prefer your Skittles organized by color, we have you covered.
We have a weakness for automated pancake machines here at Hackaday, but in terms of complete pancake machines rather than CNC batter printers we’re surprised to see more from the rest of the world than we do from the USA. Perhaps this has something to do with differences in opinion on what constitutes a pancake, whether the moniker should be applied to a large and thin disk of cooked batter, or to a smaller, thicker, and fluffier variety. For Europeans only the former will do, while for Americans anything but the latter is simply crêpe. To restore American honour in the world of automated pancakes then, a team of students from Kennesaw State University in Georgia, USA, have built a pancake vending machine for fluffy American-style pancakes as part of their coursework.
Sadly for the team the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to their lab work and stopped them making a fully functional vending machine, but the important part of robotic pancake making is something they’ve completely nailed. In the video below the break we see them testing various batter mixes before developing their mixer and batter delivery system, and finally a robotic flipper that cooks the pancakes on a griddle and delivers them to a plate. It also has the unexpected benefit of stacking pancakes.
We’re sure that without the pandemic they would have made a fully-functional vending machine for lucky Georgia students to sate their appetites upon. Meanwhile for pancake-crazy readers, here are complete pancake making machines from South Africa, and from France.
In historical times, before the pandemic, most people had to commute to work in the mornings, and breakfast often ended up being a bit rushed. [Elite Worm] is very serious about getting his breakfast mix exactly right, and o shave a bit of time off the prep, he built a 3D printed automatic ingredient dispenser for his breakfast bowl.
[Elite Worm] breakfast consists of four ingredients, that have either a powder or granular consistency. They are held in 3D printed hoppers, with a screw top for refilling and a servo-operated door with a funnel at the bottom. The hoppers need to be shaken to properly dispense the ingredients, so all four are mounted on a bracket that can slide up and down on linear bearings. The shaking is done by a brushed DC motor with a slider-crank mechanism, which moves bracket and hoppers up and down very vigorously. [Elite Worm] notes that the shaking is probably a bit too violent and can make the entire table shake if it isn’t sturdy enough, and reducing the motor RPM might be a good idea. Below the hopper system sits a movable weighing station with a load cell, a custom ATmega328P based control board and a Nextion touch screen display, which allows for various ingredient combinations to be saved. The load cell is used to keep track of the ingredient quantities by weight, as they are dispensed one at a time.
In the recent frenzy of stocking up with provisions as the populace prepare for their COVID-19 lockdown, there have been some widely-publicised examples of products that have become scarce commodities. Toilet paper, pasta, rice, tinned vegetables, and long-life milk are the ones that come to mind, but there’s another one that’s a little unexpected.
As everyone dusts off the breadmaker that’s lain unused for years since that time a loaf came out like a housebrick, or contemplates three months without beer and rediscovers their inner home brewer, it seems yeast can’t be had for love nor money. No matter, because the world is full of yeasts and thus social media is full of guides for capturing your own from dried fruit, or from the natural environment. A few days tending a pot of flour and water, taking away bacterial cultures and nurturing the one you want, and you can defy the shortage and have as much yeast as you need.
Did you get a thermal printer when they were hot stuff, but then your interest cooled when you couldn’t decide what to do with it? Something similar happened to [Sunyecz22], and the poor printer sat unused until that magical day when the perfect use for it popped up — a random recipe receiver in the form of a toaster.
[Sunyecz22] was tired of searching for recipes every week before going to the grocery store. Between the millions of recipe options on the internet and the 1000-word essays that precede them all, the process was like a part-time job. Now all they have to do is push the little lever down and wait for a recipe to get toasted into some thermal paper. It doesn’t print the full recipe, only the essentials, and we love that. You get the name, the prep time, a rating, and a QR code that links to the recipe page.
This toaster runs on a Raspberry Pi Zero W that fetches recipes using the Spoonacular API and sends the deets to the printer. The lever makes use of some old pen springs to activate a limit switch and start the recipe-getting process. We think it would be extra cool if it stayed down until the recipe popped up. Butter your way past the break to see a short demo video.
With this build, [Andrew]’s goal was to have a portable oven that didn’t sacrifice on performance. Commercial offerings were easy to lug around, but tend to cool down too much after cooking a pie, leading to lengthy waits for the oven to return to temperature. Not content to wait, [Andrew] specified his build with two custom tube burners to heat the floor, with separate jet burners to heat the cavity. When two jets proved too much, he refined the design to just one to improve efficiency and reduce carbon build up.
The Instructable is a great read, covering both the design of the oven as well as the necessary techniques to cook high-quality Neapolitan pizzas in minutes flat – right down to the selection of flour and proper insertion techniques to avoid sticking. The home pizza enthusiast could learn a lot here, and it’s great to see [Andrew] continue to improve on his earlier designs. Video after the break.