Google used AI to create ‘hybrid’ baking recipes

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Google created new baking recipes with AI.
Image: Google | Sara Robinson

Between the pandemic and the colder winter months, people are staying inside more than ever. Although it might be dull, it’s also the perfect time to put on an apron and try out some new baking recipes.

This year, home bakers can try recipes written by artificial intelligence (AI). Google recently used machine learning models to analyze thousands of dessert recipes on the web. It then tasked the AI with creating new “hybrid” recipes that bring together things like cake and cookies and bread and cookies. Aptly named “cakie” and “breakie,” these recipes are impressive from both a culinary and a technical standpoint.

Hybrid Recipes

It’s worth noting that the recipes Google shared on its blog aren’t exactly novel. The combinations have surely been tried at some point in time by an ambitious baker with too much time on their hands. That being said, what’s interesting is how Google researcher Sara Robinson got to this point.

She used a tool called AutoML Tables to build a model that can predict if a recipe is a cake, a cookie, or bread based on its list of ingredients. The code-free tool was tweaked until it was able to identify different recipes with a high level of accuracy. It can also identify various “hybrids.”

For instance, a recipe that has the airy texture of a cake and the crispy edges of a cookie would fall into this category. Robinson harnessed the power of AutoML Tables to find a recipe that would produce a 50-50 split between a cake and a cookie. Of course, she went on to make a batch—for scientific purposes.

She said, “It is yummy. And it strangely tastes like what I’d imagine would happen if I told a machine to make a cake cookie hybrid.”

Robinson also used the tool to spin out a bread-cookie hybrid, called the breakie. It resulted in a unique texture that’s somewhat similar to a muffin top.

Give it a Try

For those who want to taste an AI recipe for themselves, Google released instructions for both the cakie and the breakie. The recipes should be fairly easy to follow.

Image: Google
Image: Google

It’s worth noting that everything seen on the card wasn’t produced by AI. Robinson added a few ingredients (like chocolate chips and vanilla) as well as the instructions. Although that makes it sound like the AI didn’t do much, it’s important to remember that algorithms don’t know the nuances of baking.

This specific model was trained to analyze ingredients and determine the final outcome. By doing that task, it provided a framework for the recipes.

In the years to come, it will be interesting to see how this tech develops. Perhaps researchers could use more powerful tools to teach AI about things like flavor, temperature, and baking times. One day, algorithms may be able to fully create delicious recipes—even without being able to taste them. For now, baking the AI-created goodies is certainly a cool experience.

Check out Robinson’s entire process in the video from Google below:

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