In Louviers, these magnificent cakes are made using a 3D printer

In Louviers, these magnificent cakes are made using a 3D printer

A Normandy start-up makes pie crusts, shortbread and biscuits using a 3D food printer and gives artisans time to bake.

Alice stares behind her screen. Scattered on his desk is a laptop, a mouse, a stapler and piles of power cords. The decor is reminiscent of an open office space or a scientific laboratory. But the flour lying on the ground betrays this first impression; in reality, Alice multiplies the layers on her 3D design software in order to make… a caramel tartlet.

Invented in the early 2000s, the 3D printer, a revolutionary tool, allows thin layers of material to be superimposed using computer-imagined objects. From this stacking in relief a real object ends up appearing. Everything goes there: industrial prototypes, spare parts, clothes and sneakers, hearing or dental prostheses, furniture, weapons… and now cakes.

We owe this culinary adaptation to Marine Coré-Baillais, founder of La Pâtisserie digital. In 2019, after ten years at the head of a company dedicated to this technique, she wanted to get closer to her passion: cooking. Since then, in his 200 m2 workshop in Louviers, in Eure, his tart shells, shortbreads and aperitif biscuits are made via computer and the pastries are available in all shapes.

A magic formula

Concretely, you must first prepare the dough. The machine is not used to mix the ingredients, but to highlight the shape of the future cake. First difference with a traditional preparation: the flour is separated from the rest of the ingredients, combined in a container connected to the 3D printing head. The flour is poured directly into the tray serving as a tray. The “stylus” nozzle then deposits the paste drop by drop on it, and thin layers accumulate, freezing everything. A shape emerges; All that remains is to put it in the oven.

If the recipe seems miraculous, no one had until now managed to find the right formula: “We worked three years to perfect the process, and we are still looking to improve the machine,” reveals Marine Coré-Baillais.

In the room, the smell of sugar and chocolate whets the appetite. Alice, the engineer in charge of the printing processes, is now preparing to “depowder” the pies. She removes the tray of flour from the oven and dips her hands into it to extract the biscuits. She then brushes them using a brush. “I now have the hang of it, the operation takes me less than five seconds,” she laughs, her hands browned by the chocolate preparation. To avoid waste, the flour (produced locally) is placed in a bin which will be used for another cooking process. As long as it does not come into contact with the dough, it can be reused indefinitely.

However, a question arises: does the machine not risk dehumanizing pastry, at a time when frozen food is flooding the windows of our artisan bakers? Pierre Hermé, the most famous French pastry chef (and holder of the title of Best Pastry Chef in the World in 2016), believes not. An early supporter of Normandy society, he opened the doors to his Parisian workshops from the start of the adventure.

Chefs won over by digital pastry

Because the tart bases from La Pâtisserie digital are used in particular by gourmet restaurants, palaces and caterers. The technology has two advantages: first, the machine can produce shapes that a human hand could not obtain; and, above all, it allows you to multiply the number of pieces.

“Chefs save a lot of time,” emphasizes Alice. Preparing the dough is often very time-consuming; you have to work it, let it rest, and cook it. With our technique, chefs concentrate on ganaches, pastry creams… They have time to bake again. »

An enthusiasm shared by local political authorities. The Normandy region invested 150,000 euros in the start-up. The city of Louviers, for its part, made workshops available at a reasonable rent. Located in the heart of an innovative business incubator, they were built on the premises of a former abandoned record factory, close to the city center.

All of these incentives convinced the founder to migrate from the Paris region to Normandy. The Normans are said to be undecided, but not Marine Coré-Baillais. The adopted Norman is planning to set up her future factory there.

Recipes for success

  • Electric sobriety. The 3D food printer consumes as much as a computer or a hairdryer, which reduces costs.
  • 100% Norman. In this former record factory, everything is thought out and assembled on site. Printers are designed and manufactured there; flour grown just a few kilometers away is bagged; all the recipes are also tested there.
  • Experts and curious. Doctoral students, designers, physics and chemistry students, pastry chefs… Everyone is an expert in their field, but remains a jack of all trades.

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