Is this 3D-printed cheesecake the future of baking?

The cheesecake-style dessert was made using seven ingredients Credit: Jonathan Blutinger/Columbia Engineering

Scientists have created a 3D-printed cheesecake-like dessert using edible food ink in an American research programme.

The dessert was made using graham crackers, peanut butter, Nutella, banana puree, strawberry jam, cherry drizzle, and strawberry frosting.

It is hoped that the 3D printing technology used will help improve food safety, and allow people to better control the nutrients in their food.

Details of the seven ingredient dessert were included in the journal npj Science of Food with scientists saying their work shows that printers could easily be customised depending on the food.

Professor Christen Cooper, who teaches nutrition and dietetics at Pace University in the US, said: “3D food printing will still turn out processed foods, but perhaps the silver lining will be, for some people, better control and tailoring of nutrition – personalised nutrition. “It may also be useful in making food more appealing to those with swallowing disorders by mimicking the shapes of real foods with the pureed texture foods that these patients – millions in the US alone – require.”

The 3D printed cheesecake was made in with seven different ingredients. Credit: Jonathan Blutinger/Columbia Engineering

As part of their demonstration project, the researchers looked at the structural aspect of each ingredient. Edible food inks were loaded into different cartridges and placed in a customised food printer, which has the capacity to accommodate up to seven ingredients.

After several attempts, the researchers figured out the order for each layer and shape of the dessert. Graham cracker served as the “foundational ingredient” for each layer, with peanut butter and Nutella used as supporting layers that formed “pools” to hold the softer ingredients like banana and jam, the researchers said. The tapered shape was found to be best suited in preventing the dessert from disintegrating.

Lead author Jonathan Blutinger, a postdoctoral researcher the creative machines lab at Columbia University in the US, said:

“Because 3D food printing is still a nascent technology, it needs an ecosystem of supporting industries such as food cartridge manufacturers, downloadable recipe files, and an environment in which to create and share these recipes. “Its customisability makes it particularly practical for the plant-based meat market, where texture and flavour need to be carefully formulated to mimic real meats.” Professor Hod Lipson, a roboticist who directs the creative machines lab, added: “The study also highlights that printed food dishes will likely require novel ingredient compositions and structures, due to the different way by which the food is assembled. “Much work is still needed to collect data, model, and optimise these processes.”

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