I picked up a charming book last month called Tea With Jane Austen by the British food historian Pen Vogler. Inspired by the recipes of Austen’s novels and letters it’s one of those books that very quickly nudges you towards the kitchen where you can set about baking things like Sally Lunn buns, worthy of a Mansfield Park cream tea. The fact that I’m not, nor ever have been, a competent baker was no restraint to my ambition. I’d also just taken delivery of a Drop Connected Kitchen Scale, a Bluetooth device for iOS that could give me the appearance of a kitchen wizard by tea time. As with baking, timing was everything.
Drop is an Irish company with offices in Dublin and San Francisco. Their first foray in to connected kitchen tech is smaller than a traditional scales standing only an inch tall and measuring 5.5 x 6.5 inches. It’s base is made of silicone and it has a stylish red non-slip silicone top, which ensures mixing bowls or dishes stay in place. For a small, light device it’s sturdy and can handle weighing ingredients up to 6 kilos and is accurate right down to a single gram.
It’s powered by a small replaceable battery which should last about a year, and is easily accessed on the underside of the Drop. The scales requires use of the free Drop Scale app available on Apple’s app store. After downloading the app, setting up the scale is easy as it uses Bluetooth to pair with your iPhone or iPad and the app will walk you through the simple process which should take no more than a couple of minutes. At this stage you can choose grams or ounces and Celsius or Fahrenheit as your preferred units of measurement, but they can be changed as you work on a recipe.
Drop have added lots of new recipes to the app since the original launch, and it now has hundreds of recipes for everything from cocktails to burgers but it is still firmly focused on baking. The recipes are easily searchable on the app and they have star ratings from other Drop owners. Blueberry Buttermilk Scones caught my eye and the app immediately displayed all the details of the recipe. I could review info like how many servings the ingredients would give me (16), the number of ingredients, prep time and calories per serving.
The app progressed to preparation and it listed the equipment I’d need and the ingredients themselves. Next, basic instructions appeared on my iPad screen, so I pre-heated the oven and lined a baking tray with parchment paper. The app then walks the user through adding the ingredients and as you do you can see the weighing process via graphics on the apps screen showing you how much has been added and how much more to go. After each ingredient you can tap the Done button on the app or press the scales single button to move on to the next task.
With all the ingredients added, I followed the whisking and mixing until it was time to turn the mixture out and finish the preparation with cutting the scones. The app made this entire process seem foolproof and as I slid the baking tray of neatly trimmed, enticingly golden brown scones out of the oven 22 minutes later, I felt just a little pleased with myself.
The app allows you to work to the ingredients you have, for instance, it will recalculate if you only have two eggs rather than one, or you can reduce the number of servings at the start of the process if you don’t need the larger quantity.
A €100 is not an impulse purchase but it’s a well made, fun, useful and stylish device for the kitchen. I’m surprised the app doesn’t have a specific children’s section as I think it’s an ideal way to get kids in to the kitchen for fun or party baking. The app could do with even more recipes but it does have a clever method of selecting recipes by meal or diet type and the maker is testing a new feature called Drop Creator which allows users to upload their own recipes. When that’s ready, I’ll be re-acquainting myself with Jane Austen’s tea-time favourites, meanwhile, Rout Cake anyone?
More info: www.getdrop.com