Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cookie perfection machine - butter dispenser

I am building a machine that will dispense and mix ingredients to make a single cookie. The benefit is that each cookie on the sheet can have its own recipe, and the baker can sample all of the cookies to better understand how ingredient variations will affect taste and texture. In this video, I talk about the butter dispenser.

The folks at Meta Mate gave me the idea for customer-rating via QR code.


  1. Frédéric ClarembeauMarch 5, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    I really love your project I'm personnally a food enthousiast (if one can say so ^^) and I think that's a wonderfull idea to make that kind of device .

    The only think I could say to help you is, that cookies , to be crispy, need to have a raw mix that doesn't contain a lot of gluten witch is hydrated (The protein from the flour will become strechy if you add water to it).So You could use wether gluten free flour, rice flour,or any starch.

    The traditional approch is to mix the fatty ingredient, in your case, butter with the flour to coat each flour grain with butter to prevent the gluten from hydrating with the water from the egg white.
    You could also use vegetable oil(grapeseed oil is neutral in taste and work really well to prevent the gluten from hydrating) instead of butter and add a butter aroma it would be easier to dispense.

    I'm always happy to see new videos from you comming on youtube keep doing the good job you do it's really great .

    Thanks again and if you have any question don't hesitate I'll do anything I could to answer ;)

    Sorry for the bad english It's not my native language.

  2. Ben, I came here for a longer comment. But Fred beat me to the punch. There is a lot more to cookies than proportions. The creaming of the butter and sugar, the timing in getting the correct amount of gluten, the fact that things like chocolate chips have to be folded in.

    Not that he's perfect, but you can find Alton Brown's scientific approach to several types of cookies on youtube. It might help you develop a more sophisticated approach to portioning out ingredients, and mixing them properly for the best single shot cookie.

    If you were going to make a crappy cookie, you might as well put a tube of premade dough in a chalking gun.

  3. Yum!
    So are you going to deliver ingredients directly onto the scale, or can you design it so the scale instead weighs the entire rotating mechanism? The reduction in total weight = weight of ingredient delivered, assuming nothing is leaking.
    That way, you can distribute different cookies unattended all around the table, and, as per above comments, even separate out the ingredients of a single cookie, to be folded together by hand afterwards.

  4. Great idea Ben, you never cease to amaze me. One thought I had on the butter dispenser. What if you would liquefy the butter and dispense it as a liquid? Possibly a heating element wrapped around the barrel of a metal syringe.

  5. Leadscrews/ballscrews are often 'multiple start', so that one revolution moves a nut twice the pitch. I'm surprised you could push one that wasn't, it looks a bit like that from the still, so I'm guessing it is.

    If I'm right, it will affect the calculations you ignored :)

  6. Jason, I'll probably need a heating element, but liquifying the butter will create a bad cookie. Once butter melts completely, its structure changes, and not for the better. Ideally the butter is mixed together with the sugar at the lowest temperature possible. I'll probably shoot for 70-80*F. -Ben

  7. matteo, weighing the whole mechanism would be difficult because I need 5mg precision, and the whole assembly will weigh many kg. If I measure just the dispensed ingredients, the total mass relative to the required precision will be much less.

  8. Fred, I actually prefer chewy cookies, so gluten is OK with me.

    Robert, I've had some experience with baking (I bake bread every week and make cookies/pastries once a month or so). It's true that this project will not cover every variable in cookie making. It's mainly about the fun of building the machine, and playing with different cookie variations. I think the results will be helpful in developing a recipe that could then be made in a standard-sized batch.

  9. Ben, thanks for the response- i realized the issue with the much greater weight, but figured some sort of simple counterweight/spring arrangement could bring it back into a workable ratio. i do understand this would complicate the arrangement.
    i'm pretty lazy though- i'd happily somewhat complicate a mechanism to enable dispensing the whole array of cookies unattended, so at the same time i could read your blog postings about building your own electron microscope, or something :)

  10. Ben, it has been almost a week since you last posted another video... can you get on it? i need my fix.

  11. yes i wating too :(