Last Updated on January 25, 2021 by Novotaste
Meet the Cakie (half cake/half cookie) and the Breakie (half bread/half cookie).
Hollywood has taught us that artificial intelligence is primarily the pathway to deadly robot uprisings—and it may well be… We’ll have to see how things play out. But while we wait, AI experts are finding other interesting ways to use the technology—whether it’s developing new flavors or selling beer faster—and at Google, they recently revealed an application that only sounds dangerous to our waistlines… artificial intelligence-created desserts!
Inspired by the pandemic-spawned spike in searches for baking, the team at Google Cloud “decided to dive a little deeper into the trend and try to understand the science behind what makes cookies crunchy, cake spongy and bread fluffy,” according to a post on their blog. Then, once armed with that machine learning knowledge, they attempted to mix these attributes into what they bill as “two completely new baking recipes”: a Cakie, which is said to have “the cakiness of cake and crispiness of a cookie,” and a Breakie, which is billed as “a fluffy bread/cookie hybrid boasting the texture of a muffin.”
So how did a machine become more creative than generations of bakers? (And before you scoff, keep in mind, the Cronut has only been around for seven years, so new ideas are still out there.) First, these Google Cloud employees organized about 700 recipes covering cookies, cakes, and breads—standardizing measurements, isolating the key ingredients, and re-categorizing things like banana breads that aren’t really “breads.” Then, they fed them into a tool called “AutoML Tables” to create a machine learning model that was able to predict whether a recipe was a cookie, cake, or bread based on its ingredient amounts.
Of course, recipes don’t necessarily fit perfectly into one category. As Sara Robinson, who led the project, explained, a recipe might come back as 97 percent bread, 2 percent cake, and 1 percent cookie. So what if she asked the model to create its own recipe: something that’s 50 percent cookie and 50 percent cake? That’s how the Cakie was born. And she was happily surprised by the results. “It is yummy,” Robinson said. “And it strangely tastes like what I’d imagine would happen if I told a machine to make a cake cookie hybrid.”
Based on that success, she and colleague Dale Markowitz continued to tweak their model—which resulted in the Breakie. “We should caveat that while our model gave us ingredients, it didn’t spit out any baking directions, so we had to improvise those ourselves,” they wrote. “And, we added chocolate chips and cinnamon for good measure.” Still, the Breakie was also deemed a success.
Overall, beyond giving us some new recipes to try, the experiments demonstrate just how broadly the applications of artificial intelligence can be. And the results of this kind of machine learning could also help human bakers by answering, as Google explains, “what, fundamentally, scientifically, makes a piece of cake different from a slice of bread or a cookie?”
If you want to try the recipes yourself, you can find them below or on Google’s website.
And if you want to read a slightly more technical breakdown on how machine learning was used, you can find that on Google Cloud. They also made the below YouTube video recreating the entire AI experiment.
(Editor’s note: The above recipes have not been tested or otherwise verfied by Food & Wine.)