Final Proof: Flowers meet Flour
Fresh floral flavouring favourites add more than a unique taste: some functional properties, too.
By Jane Dummer
It’s summer again, and we are craving fresh and floral flavour experiences. The upswing in classic floral flavours, such as honeysuckle, jasmine, lavender and rose has been a result of consumers loving seasonal flavours, along with pretty “Instagrammable” baked goods. Celebrities and consumers are sharing their eating via social, so trends are spreading much quicker that they used to. In my Cake Trends for 2019 Final Proof, I wrote about Harry and Meghan’s 2018 wedding cake of a lemon elderflower decorated with a simple buttercream and fresh flowers. It was a trendsetter with flowers as the star of the cake. Flowers are very marketable.
Philip Caputo, Marketing & Consumer Insights Manager at Virginia Dare in Brooklyn agrees, “Bored with conventional fare, many consumers, especially Millennials, want an exciting consumption experience. Vivid colours or elevated presentation has become essential: it better be Instagrammable and sharable. Florals and botanicals deliver on all these taste fronts; from the floral profiles found in global cuisines like Indian and Asian to the aromatic world of herbal tea blends to the brightly coloured Instagram photos of butterfly pea flower lattes and lavender geode cakes. Lavender’s flavour, colour, and functionality had propelled it to mainstream status as far as florals go. It’s pairs well with other popular baking flavours, e.g. vanilla, lemon, blueberry, chocolate and honey. While florals can become a bit over-flowering for the North American palate, the right level and appropriate application can add a delicate, intriguing layer. Complexity of flavours continues to be in favour. Consumers demand complex with unexpected twists. Think a rose mocha mousse, Meyer lemon lavender iced poppy cake, or cran-hibiscus muffin.”
Tart-tangy, sweet-salty, fruit-savoury are examples of stepping outside a traditional flavour experience and adding other dimensions. Florals and botanicals are perfect for blending with these traditional baking favourites. Classics like chocolate and vanilla are delicious when paired with lavender, jasmine and honeysuckle. Gregory Drew, VP Sales & Marketing, RFI Ingredients describes, “Continuing with trends in natural and clean label ingredients our florals are not labelled as flavour and can be labelled as ‘extracts’. Our most popular floral extracts are organic hibiscus, organic honeysuckle and organic dandelion. The RFI floral extracts are delicious, naturally sweet taste, minimizing the need for added sugar and sweeteners, making them easy to use in variety of baking recipes. Our customers often buy individual ingredients, though we showcase them in blends, and then they create new combinations with flavours like lemon or coffee.”
Even though seasonal flavours are popular among consumers in summer, florals can be enjoyed year-round. Keera Perumbala, Marketing Manager at Sensient Flavors, in Hoffman Estates, Illinois explains, “Most consumers, our research finds, enjoy a known flavour combined with an exciting new blend. Think of chocolate lavender. The familiarity and indulgence of chocolate means less risk in trying out an otherwise surprising floral lavender. Blends typically resonate better with consumers. Herbs and spices are making their way into baked goods year-round too. Along with florals, textures are having a moment, as consumers get excited about the surprise element that they bring. Baked goods, such as cakes can use edible flowers for decorative purposes. This is harder to achieve on products that live on grocery shelves. However, there are particulates, pieces and flakes that show up in some health bar products, which excite consumers just as much. Popular health bars carry flavours like blueberry lavender and chocolate mint.”
We’re always considering the functionality of ingredients. Health and nutrition are a priority for consumers. Do floral extracts and ingredients deliver a wellness functionality along with flavour? Caputo explains, “Turn to the world of herbal teas for inspiration or on-trend ingredients like turmeric for inflammation, earl grey tea for subtle energy, lavender for relaxation, and bergamot for any number of possible health benefits. Perumbala, identifies, “Herbs, florals and spices in beverages add not only an exotic twist and culinary exploration, but also offer health-halo to products they are used in. Drew reminds us, “RFI floral extracts, like many other plant-based ingredients, contain a variety of naturally occurring antioxidants and phytonutrients, even if not applicable for label claims.”
Who doesn’t love flowers? As functional ingredients diversify, florals are providing unexpected twists, delicious flavours and beautiful visuals.
Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America. www.janedummer.com