Tropical fruit lends a warm element to comfort foods. During stressful times, people seek nostalgic flavours.
By Jane Dummer
Thanks to social media, consumers tastes have grown globally. At the beginning of 2020, prior to the global pandemic, consumers in Canada were welcoming adventurous new international flavours and global cuisines. Today with the current pandemic protocols and measures in place, we have seen a shift in consumer behaviour to a preference of what is familiar, even nostalgic.
Self-isolation and physical distancing have created a new level of home baking. With more people baking from scratch, they are interested recognizable recipes like banana bread, lemon meringue pie and date squares. All those fruits and fruit flavours are internationally sourced; however, they have long been in the Canadian marketplace.
Dufflet Rosenberg CEO, Dufflet Group Inc., confirms, “With the times being what they are, our customers still reach for reassuring, authentic desserts that have traditional meaning in their lives and the lives of their loved ones. The thing about a cake made with nostalgic and comforting ingredients is that you can serve it to the whole family and know that everyone will have a slice! We make a Chocolate Banana Cake that has been a cornerstone item since forever, and a Banana Loaf which is a go-to slice for lunch bags because it travels so well. We are launching a Hummingbird Cake made with bananas and pineapple. It’s a classic southern spice cake that is a wonderful blend of flavours and textures. Our lemon desserts are very Instagrammable because they are so eye-catching, and the ones that match lemons with a second flavour, like our Lemon Coconut Layer Cake and Lemon Raspberry Cakelet®, are extremely popular. Date Squares, which originated in Canada and are known as known as a traditional dish of Newfoundland are a classic bestseller from our selection of bars and brownies.”
Lemons are a comfort ingredient that have been used in baking for centuries. However, there are a variety of citrus options that work well in baking. Christina Ward, Director of Global Brand Marketing at Sunkist Growers in California identifies, “Modern-day artisans and commercial bakers are using more than just lemons. Specialty citrus varieties bring an exotic and unique flavour to the menu. Commercial bakers like to utilize and take advantage of the entire citrus fruit from zest to juice. Citrus zest is an exceptional and unique ingredient in that it contains essential oils that provide a sweet flavour and a bright aromatic fragrance and does not change the chemistry of the treat while baking in the oven as the juice would. Segmenting citrus and adding it to a dish adds another layer of flavour and texture that can bring a recipe to the next level, and the juice itself is a perfect solution to balance the sweetness in a baked item. Candied citrus is another way to top and elevate a recipe.”
Sunkist collaborates and develops recipes with professional chefs. Chef Sally Camacho-Mueller, a partner and executive pastry chef at Tesse Restaurant in West Hollywood, CA, has developed cakes, cookies, and pies with Sunkist® citrus specialty varieties, including Sunkist® Cara Cara oranges, Sunkist® Blood oranges and Sunkist® Navel oranges. Ward comments, “One of her creations, the Maple Upside Down Cake with Sunkist® Blood oranges provide that hint of citrus and raspberry flavour to the sweetness of the maple to get the perfect balance of flavour in one bite.”
Dates are another international fruit that have been a mainstay in Canadian baking for years. With the food supply changes due to the global pandemic, on a positive note, Charlene Rainey, founder, Date Research Institute in California, explains, “Exports to Canada will probably increase because the freight is a lower cost than other markets. Also, the demand in Canada is high. The 2020-2021 crop year for dates looks very promising. Many of the date farms in California have been organic for a long time and the standards are the highest. We have tracked that breads, cakes and cookies remain the top applications for baking with dates. Bars are more for the no bake alternatives. The new uses of dates are in savoury flat breads and pizza.”
Today with the global pandemic directives: international fruits like bananas, citrus and dates, although not extremely exotic, have won first place in kitchens across Canada.
Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America.