I have a question for the professional bakers as well as the “home” bakers. I thought I had created a device that would tell you when a baked good (cakes, breads, muffins, etc.) was done perfectly. And after contacting the company that makes similar devices for use in a different part of cooking, I found that they were already producing the item I had envisioned, but were not using it for baking. So, what would you pay for a disposable device that is placed into raw batters and then tells you when the item has reached the perfect internal temperature? And also, do you think such a device would be useful to you?
I would think it would be much like the candy thermometer. Those who cooked for years without one will likely never need it, although, at the same time, they might enjoy it as a convenience. Most of us that did not begin judging caramel temps without a thermometer more or less rely on it.
I could see a similar situation.
At the same time, cakes are both more forgiving than caramel (temperature range-wise) and are easier to test for doneness and to recognize the signs of doneness for even a beginner, so it might not be quite as practical as, say, a candy thermometer.
I don’t see myself having an interest, but at the same time if they were a buck a dozen, I might throw one in for added assurance if they proved to be reliable.
I first saw a possible need for this at the food service operation I was working at. Cooks who were using box mixes (just add water) were constantly over baking cakes, basically throwing away $10.00 at a time. You are right that professional bakers might not find this useful.
You are also right about “if the price is right” part of this equation.
I could see it as useful in foodservice, where you might have people who are monitoring lots of cakes all baking at once—and who aren’t necessarily bakers themselves—needing to pull them when they’re done, so there could be a good demand in that situation.
So, what would you pay for a disposable device that is placed into raw batters and then tells you when the item has reached the perfect internal temperature? And also, do you think such a device would be useful to you?
I’m skeptical that a temperature-based disposable device would be reliable. Even ignoring the accuracy of the temperature measurement, there are issues of varying desired target temperatures, proper placement in the batter, and possible disturbances to the aesthetics of the end product. Most of the time, a toothpick works just fine. For those products where a toothpick won’t work, I love my instant-read thermometer. For some types of products, I will take several readings at different locations to see if more baking is required.
The tool is very small and does leave a small hole in the item being baked. Yes, placement is simply into the middle of the item being baked, so you do have to eye it up. At about half way through the baking time the device is set into the batter. If it is being frosted then it won’t detract from the appearance, but I understand not wanting to see a hole in the baked good. Several people have tested them and found them useful for knowing when to pull the item. I have tested them as well and they have worked in many batters with different consistencies. I have even sent some to Mrs. Beranbaum and one of her assistants to test.
If you feel comfortable giving me your address I will send you some to try. I understand if you don’t.
not wanting to see a hole in the baked good. Several people have tested them and found them useful for knowing when to pull the item. I have tested them as well and they have worked in many batters with different consistencies. I have even sent some to Mrs. Beranbaum and one of her assistants to test. If you feel comfortable giving me your address I will send you some to try. I understand if you donít.
I don’t mind a small hole…my toothpicks give me that. In fact, I get several when I get impatient. I’d be happy to test them, but there are many here who crank out a lot more cakes than I do, so I’d rather not take your prototypes when I can’t perform a good service for you.
Please don’t be discouraged by negative responses; people are often wrong when they say they would or would not use a product. I greatly admire your having an inspiration and seeing it through.
I wonder if there might be a couple of different disposables depending on what temperature you want. Sometimes I want a cake baked to a lower temp, say 190F instead of 200-205F. I do this when baking some sponge cakes to minimize shrinking and with butter cakes when I have to make it ahead and I want the least amount of time baking possible in order to minimize dryness. Brioche also bakes to 190F.
As to how much I would pay, I’m not sure but it wouldn’t be too much as I aleady have a pretty good sense of what a cake looks like when it’s approaching doneness plus an instant read thermometer, which I use constantly. It might be useful to have a few around in case I end up baking at someone else’s house (unfamiliar oven).
I can see that it might be helpful for bakers starting out, to help take the guesswork out of oven timing. Is it sort of like one of those buttons in a turkey? I do wonder if it might make a sponge cake fall, opening the oven and putting something on the cake half way through baking.
Yes, there are a range of temperatures. One activates at 203 degrees and one at 185 degrees. Both allowing for the residual rise in temperature that all items experience after being removed from the oven. And as far as accuracy goes, they are within 1 degree +/-.
I have never had one deflate any of the cakes I have used them in, including sponge. They are very light but I understand your concern. I have a prototype of an additional component that would allow the device to float on any batter, no matter its viscosity, so it could be placed into the item from the beginning of baking. But, its amazing how something so small can cost so much to produce, as well as raise the price to make something disposable seem to pricey.
Thank you again for your input. I am thankful for this forum allowing me to pose a question because bakers will always shine a light on something you didn’t think about.
I try not to get disposables period (because of the environmental consequences). I also avoid items that can be used for only one thing. I have no trouble with using an instant read thermometer or using a bamboo skewer (which I reuse). But what you are describing sounds like an item that might appeal to the gadget lovers among us.
I’m looking at it from a professional point of view. You’d still have to have people pulling the cakes from the oven at the right time, correct? Part of the problem is that you set a timer, walk away and when the timer goes off you check the cake. If you ignore the timer, don’t hear it, etc; you still overbake the cake.
If it pops up, you have to be able to see it, and every kitchen is different, and every oven is different - whether you are using a revolving rack oven, a convection oven (with or without a working light inside , it’s something to take into consideration for a professional environment. I can see how it is useful, but anything that is going to add to the cost of the cake is taking away from somewhere else. If I’m baking 40 cakes in a single day, even at 5 cents a piece, that’s $2; if you overbake a cake I theoretically could use it for cake balls, dry it out further and use it for crumbs to mask the sides of a cake, make a trifle with it…. it’s not a total loss. Usually And what is the possibility that it could get left in the cake by accident? something else to consider….