Cake decorators gain inspiration from the latest consumer trends, and consumer interest in multicultural cuisines and authentic and unconventional taste experiences are driving flavor innovation.
“We cater to each season,” says Nick Sakkos, one of the owners of Bravo Bakery in Prospect Heights, Illinois. “We did 30 varieties of cookies for Valentine’s Day. For Easter, we do cakes in the shapes of Easter eggs, bunny cookies and other spring cakes. We do strawberry, pineapple, peach. We sell slices of cakes that turn into full cake sales.”
Catering to the convenience trend, small serve is a great way to go, so customers can take that risk on new flavors or get just enough dessert to share with their loved ones without overindulging.
Millennials and young couples are opting for late night snacks or an extra special or creative dessert, in lieu of flavors like mini cookies and mini fun cupcakes with sweet and salty and caramel.
Experts predict a rise in classic floral flavors, such as honeysuckle, jasmine, lavender, lilac and rose. Tropical fruits are on the rise, so try incorporating guava or mango into your cake fillings and icings.
Another flavor to incorporate is avocado, which has a mild flavor that pairs well with others including chocolate.
Novelty flavors are often sought after for the nostalgic, feel-good sentiments they provide. That is why strawberry lemonade, root beer and lavender are some popular ingredients for spring 2019.
In other trends, fresh fruit remains a favorite garnish as well as flavor enhancer.
Coconut is trending upward. Coconut sugar carries a healthy halo as an alternative sugar. Experiment with coconut sugar in your cake base.
Florals are in the spotlight right now. For cake decorators, experiment with big, bold, realistic blooms that catch the eye.
Also keep an eye on production efficiency. Make your flowers and decorations ahead of time and freeze them. It takes the pressure off and allows you to focus your energy wisely.
Black cakes iced with pastel and muted flowers make a statement for spring. Decorating experts also see trends toward very monochromatic color schemes — simple creamy whites with richly textured sides and sculpted flowers.
Decorations are becoming very popular and make your cake masterpieces look expensive.
Consumers expect 60% of desserts to have chocolate. Decorating experts suggest this idea: Incorporate a marbled tulip chocolate cup and fill it with cake scraps and top it with a buttercream flower, a chocolate decoration, or garnish to match the cake flavor.
Making colorful fondant cake decorations (like fun animals or striped bow ties) is another marketing tool for customers to see in your front display case and choose to add to their favorite cakes. These fondant decorations, which you can offer for a dollar or two apiece, serve as another way the bakery helps customers create one-of-a-kind experiences.
Wedding cakes reinvented
For the coming year, leading wedding expert The Knot predicts that eats with a twist will be popular at America’s weddings. Think pairings that are unconventional and Instagrammable, such as root beer floats in champagne flutes. For desserts, the wedding industry saw donuts become a big part of receptions in 2018, and that trend will extend to a different baked good in 2019 as cinnamon rolls take center stage.
Wedding cakes will remain popular, but they will evolve in appearance. Couples are hiring professional cake bakers to create unexpected shapes and varying sized tiers that effectively turn cakes into art installations. Many cakes will feature stunning designs rich in color and texture.
Flavor trend spotting
Keep an eye on consumer trends to know the latest flavors and products in demand.
The National Restaurant Association’s annual survey of chefs looks to identify food and beverage trends for the coming year. Approximately 650 chefs, all American Culinary Federation members, predicted what will be prevalent on menus for 2019, as well as the top trending snacks and sweets for 2019.
The top five are the following:
- Thai-rolled ice cream
- Donuts with non-traditional filling (liqueur, Earl Grey cream)
- Chocolate (responsibly sourced, new flavors)
- Injera chips
- Artisan/house-made ice cream