The right stuff

French bread is shifting from the side dish to the main plate as creative bakery and café owners put a new twist on this familiar favorite. When stuffed with palate-pleasing ingredients ranging from exotic to good-for-you, French bread serves up the perfect platform to extend a menu quickly and easily.

From low-key fillings with flavors such as onion, garlic and herbs to more substantial stuffings such as hot Creole sausage, consumers looking for the next bakery trend are reaching for filled French bread. For inspiration, bakers incorporate current food trends into their creations, offering up fresh spice combinations, healthy ingredients, updated comfort foods and seasonal fare.

Versatility

The versatility of stuffed French bread lets bakers experiment with new flavors and textures. As taste buds become more sophisticated, diners are looking for unique eating experiences. One of the hottest food trends of 2014 is Asian-inspired cuisine, and with a spice palette that includes ginger, curry, turmeric, lemongrass, cumin, coriander and cardamom, the possibilities for flavorful fillings are endless.
 
If you serve tried-and-true food, you don’t need to entirely revamp your menu items to get in on the stuffed French bread craze. Instead, just reimagine those offerings. Keep the Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce, but use it as French bread filling. Or dress up traditional biscuits and gravy by stuffing the bread with seasoned sausage and drizzling it with gravy.

The Local Spin

Stuffed French breads can also help you capitalize on the growing interest in healthy eating and eating local. Fillings featuring the new “it” food, cauliflower, as well as other popular veggies such as sweet potatoes, greens and shredded cabbage can easily satisfy health-conscious customers when paired with a sweet or spicy sauce for added flavor. And buying local ingredients can add a seasonal flair to your menu as availability changes throughout the year.

Give Them What They Want

When adding stuffed French bread items to your menu, it’s important to keep your customer profile in mind. Do the majority of your visitors gravitate toward your healthier options? Or do they love the comfort food items? Do their choices trend toward sweet, savory or spicy flavors? Determine your most popular menu offerings, and think about what makes those selections your best sellers. Then, start brainstorming ideas for extending those core items into stuffed French bread creations.