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I am not a baker; we should get that out of the way right off the bat. So when I saw the Drop kitchen scale last winter I thought it was a great idea for mixing cocktails. The connected kitchen scale links to your iPad (must be third generation or above) and measures out your ingredients as you add them to a bowl sitting on the scale.
What’s unique about it is that it will help you adjust recipes down if you realize that you only have one egg instead of the two called for in the recipe or you want to take your recipe for eight people and pare it down to serve six. Those features had me excited about its potential use at the bar, simply because mixing up a batch of cocktails can be tricky and getting proportions right in a drink is so essential.
But the Drop scale is for baking. So when my review unit arrived, I grabbed my trays and mixing bowls.
Let’s get cooking
When I saw the demos of the app I thought it would be ideal for a kid since everything is laid out so simply, so I asked my eight-year-old daughter to help me with the testing of the app. She readily agreed and chose to bake the Quick Chocolate Chunk Cookies from the app’s selection of recipes.
The other thing that the $100 scale does that’s worth mentioning is how it handles recipes. The app breaks recipes down into modular components starting with a list of what you’ll need in terms of equipment and ingredients. Then once you hit start, it takes you step by step through the recipe.
My daughter and I both found the recipes veered more toward the foodie end of the spectrum and were kind of awed by the number of vegan and gluten-free options.
“I feel that the recipes they give you, they won’t give you the normal version, they’ll give you the fancy version,” she told me when I asked her what she’d change. “They’ll give you the cookies with all the accessories, but before I am ready to go onto those I should first learn how to make the basics so I understand how this recipe is supposed to be working.”
We found the most basic chocolate chip recipe offered and went to town. I put her in charge, and she dutifully checked the ingredient list on the screen against the ones we laid out. Once we had everything assembled she clicked the start button and followed the instructions. It was awesome.
My daughter is a worrier. She worries about doing everything correctly, including scooping out the right amount of flour or butter into a bowl. So after we placed our mixing bowl on the scale and let it zero out, watching her start tossing in the butter with abandon as she kept an eye on what Drop calls the ingredient card fill up toward our goal weight of 10.25 ounces of butter was great. As a parent I rarely get to see her relax at a task because she’s so focused on making sure she’s doing things perfectly.
She added all of the ingredients, although she added too much sugar, because it’s a bit tricky to see when you are going over the limit. The fill line for our first two ingredients was near the top of the card, so we just assumed that would be the case for others. However, when it came to adding sugar, the fill line was about a third of the way down. The fill line was a bit faint, so we went over. When you do that, you get these light pink diagonal stripes that flash as you add more of the ingredient, but it’s the least jarring warning I’ve ever seen.
Neither of us realized what was going on for a few more spoonfuls of sugar, and then it kicked in. So then I had to spoon the overflow out before we moved on. I should also say that for people who don’t like measuring cups, this scale is lovely, because you don’t really need them. Just dump your sugar or flour in until it says stop. I found it disconcerting, but my daughter loved it because it gave her more freedom from my supervision.
The final say
The other thing that caused us some consternation was the serving size on this particular recipe. It suggested that the recipe served eight people, but when it comes to cookies, what does that mean? Most cookie recipes give you an idea of how many cookies it will make. I guessed that eight people meant 16 cookies, so I doubled it. We ended up with about 60 cookies. A more experienced baker probably would have just looked at the amount of the ingredients and figured out what they were getting, but I don’t bake.
While my daughter continued to rhapsodize about the scale, I’m going to complain a bit. I found the use of weights to be frustrating, because when things like butter come in 2 ounce packages, asking for 10.25 ounces just feels aggravating. You can tell the scale you’re done when you get close to having the ingredient measured out with no repercussions, but if you are too far off you can end up with a resized recipe.
The recipe format is very clean, but it is also hard to glance at and get a sense of the steps without clicking through the entire recipe. At a glance you can only see the equipment you need and the ingredients, not the actual step-by-step instructions. For those you have to click through each individual step. It’s a bit of a pain. When I was testing, the ingredient substitution feature wasn’t working, but it did say it was coming soon.
A final complaint that my daughter and I both had was with the size of the scale, or maybe its top. Our big mixing bowl felt a little wobbly on the scale as it filled up with stuff and required us to mix in additional things. Of course, my existing digital scale feels a little fragile compared to the Drop so I’m not sure I’d ever try to mix anything on it.
The Drop scale can be used as a normal kitchen scale as long as you have your iPad handy, as there is no display on the scale itself. You can tap the scale instead of the iPad to move ahead when you are following a recipe, which is a handy feature to keep your iPad clean while you are cooking. There’s an integrated timer on the app, which is a nice feature if you are religiously tapping through the steps at the right place. I’m a bit more laissez faire, but my daughter was ON IT.
My daughter said she looks forward to using the scale again, and I’m set to try a few more recipes before shipping it back, but I’m not sure I’d spend $100 to replace my existing $50 digital scale. Since kitchen scales range in price from about $20 to $60 for an non-connected scale, paying $100 for a connected scale that comes with an app could either be seen as nuts or normal depending on where you fall on that spectrum.
If I didn’t have a scale already I might simply get the Drop because my daughter really seemed to get a kick out of it, and followed the entire recipe on her own. I might also buy one if I were really into baking.
But for now, I’ll wait until the Drop folks come out with something for mixologists.