Shutterstock / Evgeniy Kalinovskiy
There’s nothing better than a freshly baked loaf of bread from the local bakery, right? Thanks to a robot, you could be picking up a warm loaf from your local Kroger or Walmart very soon. (See how robots are already revolutionizing how we eat pizza.)
The BreadBot, also known as The Mini Bakery, is a robot that bakes fresh bread right before your eyes. By quickly and automatically baking bread all day (up to 10 loaves per hour), it offers large-scale grocery stores a local bakery feel.
Created by Wilkinson Baking Company, the BreadBot was 10 years in the making and debuted at this year’s South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.
Inspired by the popular farm-to-table concept, Wilkinson Baking Company designed the BreadBot with transparency in mind. Customers can watch the bread bake from start to finish, which takes about 90 minutes per loaf.
The BreadBot helps reduce the carbon footprint, eliminate preservatives and cut down waste. By baking the bread in store, it reduces the need for delivery trucks and fuel, all while delivering the freshest bread possible.
How it works
To get started, staff must pour dry bread ingredients into a large hopper, which can hold ingredients for 50 loaves. When it’s time to bake, the hopper releases enough dry ingredients for one loaf. Once mixed with water, the dough moves into the automatic kneader and is then transferred to a baking pan. The pan advances through the proofing oven for 45 minutes, and continues into the baking oven for 40 minutes. (Here’s a peek at the best oven temperatures for baking bread.)
When baking is complete, the loaf makes its way into a customer-facing display while it cools. Customers can pick up a loaf from the cooling cabinet or from the display of loaves that staff has sliced and bagged.
The future of baking
By automating bread baking, the BreadBot can save employees time and energy – staff will only spend about 40 minutes a day maintaining the machine. The BreadBot can even send staff messages throughout the day if it needs something, like “Please empty the cabinet of bread,” “I need more mix” or “I’m finished baking today.”
Leveraging the latest technology, the BreadBot is built with sensors that monitor the entire process to ensure consistency. It also uses big data analytics and facial recognition to customize each experience and provide insights into purchasing behavior.
Until you can grab a loaf baked by a BreadBot near you, here are our favorite bread recipes to try in your own kitchen.