Business and Operations
Bakery flavour fashions
By James Careless
By James Careless
Get ready for more natural flavours, savoury taste sensations and
blends of old and new flavour friends such as chocolate and mango.
These are the flavour fashions for 2010.
| Embassy Flavours’ Rocky Road Pie|
Get ready for more natural flavours, savoury taste sensations and blends of old and new flavour friends such as chocolate and mango. These are the flavour fashions for 2010.
Natural gains ground
“The biggest trend we are seeing in bakery flavours is the push to go natural,” says Martino Brambilla, owner of Embassy Flavours. “It started a few years ago with new product launches and then spread to existing products.”
“Natural” includes using vanilla beans in place of extract, often with the nationality of the beans (for example, Tahitian) being proudly promoted in bakery advertising.
Why the hunger for natural flavourings?
“Bakers want to clean up their ingredient declarations,” says Chuck Harvey, president and CEO of Dealers Ingredients.
In the public’s mind, natural flavours are safer, reassuring and just plain better than artificial.
“Consistency is the biggest problem with natural flavours,” Brambilla says. “Although natural flavours can usually withstand the cold process, they tend to be diminished when baked. They are just much more volatile than artificial.”
Ironically, the result is that baked goods made with natural flavours can end up tasting less “natural” than those made with their artificial counterparts.
Natural flavours are also becoming more popular in breads. The trend here is to create “more flavourful breads by adding kernels or full grains and seeds,” says Karl Eibensteiner, president of Lentia Enterprises.
“Canadian consumers want more healthy ingredients in their breads, but they also refuse to give up on flavour. Kernels, grains and seeds are the only way we can meet both of these desires.”
Sweet meets savoury
There was a time when baked goods were synonymous with sweetness. But no longer: Although sweet items are still central to the industry’s output, savoury baked goods have been making inroads.
Obviously, breads seasoned with grains and seeds are savoury rather than sweet, but the trend toward savoury doesn’t
“Today, you can buy savoury danishes and bagels,” says Brambilla. “Savoury flavours are also effective in hiding the taste of ‘nutraceuticals’ such as omega-3, which taste awful by themselves.”
Caution: When it comes to hiding the taste of omega-3, fibre and other nutraceuticals, there is no one-flavour-fits-all solution.
“You really have to engineer a different approach for each baked good, to make sure that the flavour mix tones down the nutraceutical taste,” Brambilla notes. “You can’t just mask it; you have to blend it down.”
The dance of the flavour blends
The limited popularity of mango notwithstanding, Canadians in general have not embraced the possibility of exotic fruits in their baked goods.
| Customers can be introduced to new flavours through small individual desserts such as mousses.|
“Apple remains our most popular pie filling,” Eibensteiner says. “Granted, there is room to experiment here with brown sugar and other ‘natural’ elements, but Canadians still prefer to stick with what they are comfortable with: apple, cherry, blueberry, lemon and strawberry.”
The trick to introducing new flavours is to marry them with old standbys – strawberry/rhubarb being a classic example of how this can be done.
“Bakers have to take their cue from the drink business, where all kinds of exotic fruits are blended with apple and strawberry to make them more enticing to the general public,” says Eibensteiner. “In this way, you can introduce your customers to guava, kiwi and agave, and expand their flavour horizons.”
In the flavour wars, everyone interviewed for this article agreed that chocolate is still king. This and chocolate’s blend-ability make a
natural partner for successful flavour combinations.
“Chocolate always reigns, which is why you can experiment by marrying it with unexpected flavours like chili pepper,” says Dawn Foods marketing manager Audrey Fernandes. “On a more conventional note, chocolate goes with virtually every fruit there is, and gets along with savoury flavours too. The best part about chocolate is that people like it so much, they are willing to experiment with chocolate blends that include flavours they wouldn’t normally buy on their own.”
Flavour fashion overview
In the world of fashion, some things are timeless classics, like a woman’s little black cocktail dress, or a man’s blue blazer and grey flannel slacks.
The same is true of flavours: chocolate is still the leader of the pack, followed by vanilla and strawberry. Apple, cherry, blueberry and lemon also have their stalwart fans. They are not going away anytime soon, if ever.
Still, the trend toward natural does change the game for many established flavours, simply because some of them can’t deliver the same consistency as their artificial doppelgangers. For bakers, there is no way around this fact, except by experimenting with natural flavours in recipes until the final results are satisfactory. In those cases where natural flavours can’t do the job, it may be possible to find artificial flavours that have “natural sources,” so that these can be cited in the ingredients declaration.
Caution: There is a point at which you either have to opt for a natural flavour and put up with the losses that occur in baking, or stick with artificial flavours to retain the full taste experience. In some instances, you may need to offer two kinds of products, says Eibensteiner.
“Some people want natural flavours first, while others want taste sensation first,” he explains. “You need to be able to satisfy them both, and sometimes one product alone cannot do that.”
Bakers wanting to add variety to their breads and pastries should definitely consider adding more savoury flavours, bearing in mind that grains and seeds are an effective and appealing way to do this.
Finally, when it comes to introducing new flavours, pairing them with consumer favourites such as chocolate and apple is a wise course to follow.