Knead-to-know trends

Baking isn't just about comfort food anymore–it's about making a statement. From funky fillings to gluten-free goodness, several trends are heating up aisles and kitchens.


YOU’VE SEEN OMBRE HAIR, THE TWO-TONE LOCKS EVERY starlet is sporting, but what about ombre cupcakes?
“Bakers are making ombre cakes and cupcakes, where there will be an intense colour that sort of fades out intentionally,” says Joy Wilson, the New Orleans–based author of Joy the Baker Cookbook and creator of the blog “They’re using things like beets and blackberries to add natural colour to baked goods. [The cakes] end up being beautifully vibrant in a natural way.”

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The use of organic dyes over artificial colourings is a natural shift. Ipsos Canada’s “Five” survey says one of the top motivations for eating homemade baked goods is because they’re all-natural. And while growth in the baked goods category is flat overall, consumers are shifting away from pre-packaged products to fresher options, which is good news for stores’ in-house bakery departments.
Wilson also says doughnuts are super trendy, but not your average vanilla-dipped variety.

“It’s taking doughnuts to the next level, so starting with the regular, yeasted doughnut, but then filling it with crazy fillings like caramel and chocolate,” she says.
Mixing “retro” or comfort food with modern flavours is also catching on with bakers. For example, making classic puddings and adding an ingredient like salted caramel.
Also, gluten- free is much more than a fad. Bakers are using alternative flours, such as almond and coconut, “so that everyone can eat what they’ve made,” says Wilson.

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“The fact remains: gluten-free products are still growing,” says Svetlana Uduslivaia, senior research analyst at Chicago- based Euromonitor International.

In fact, in Canada, gluten-free baked goods are expected to grow 5% in value and 4% in volume over the next five years.
In July, George Weston revealed plans to increase its gluten- free offerings, and food manufacturers are rolling out new gluten- free baking options. In August, General Mills’ Betty Crocker brand expanded its gluten-free lineup with chocolate chip cookie and brownie mixes. And General Mills’ Pillsbury brand recently launched gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough.

“We’re already getting incredible feedback on how great the product is,” says Catherine Jackson, director of corporate communications at General Mills.
While more Canadians might be experimenting with baking, 25% of bakers still won’t deviate from the original recipe they use, notes Dina Clark, vice-president of marketing at McCormick & Company. So the company tries to teach bakers how they can personalize their baked goods.

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“[We provide] tips and alternatives such as using a variety of flavoured extracts or substituting ingredients like honey instead of sugar,” says Clark.
McCormick recently launched two on-trend flavoured extracts: French vanilla and caramel.

“All of our new flavours are accompanied by recipes to help expand bakers’ repertoire,” says Clark.


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