Final Proof: Small cakes, big trend
August 26, 2022
By Jane Dummer, RD
Mini desserts, on trend these days, are big on flavour, customization and creativity
Small cakes and mini pastries are not new. For years, they have had a formal place at high tea and weddings. Plus, they treats like cupcakes are a welcomed addition to snack time. However, due to numerous factors including how we purchased during the pandemic, small sizes remain a big trend for cakes. Whether the descriptor is small, bento, lunchbox, mini or baby, these cakes offer the customer a level of customization, individual flavours, creativity and food safety (due to less contact and handling compared to that required for a large sheet cake).
Atul Palghadmal, chef and owner of Nugateau Patisserie in Toronto, agrees: “During the pandemic people’s buying patterns changed. As we know, social and family gatherings were restricted. Most events including birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated online via video calls. This brought in a new buying trend for smaller cakes and pastries. We noticed an increase in sales for individual pastries like the éclairs over larger entremets and cakes. Ordering smaller portion sized desserts fed our cravings and made more sense versus ordering large cakes or desserts. Individual portion and individual packaging are perfect options, so everyone has their own ready-to-eat dessert. We are noticing this summer season, people prefer the smaller offerings as a ‘grab-and-go’ option for picnics in the park or at the beach. When we introduced petit gateau like Paris Brest Ispahan, Tiramisu and Red Velvet they were an instant hit both in-store as well as on all the delivery platforms. The Paris Brest Ispahan incorporates our signature choux dough and a phenomenal combination of flavours like raspberry rose and lychee. With this unique combination flavour, the Paris Brest Ispahan has become a favourite with our beloved customers who come back for the same cake again and again.”
The trend of customization and personalization is massive. Being able to have a hand in designing your own dessert is appealing to many consumers. Daisy Yuan, head cake artist at Gâteaux Rì Yuè, an online dessert shop in Montreal, explains: “We have been offering bento cakes since October 2020. Our top three flavours are boba (milk tea flavour), chocolate and matcha. The popular form of bento cakes allows people to get creative and customize the flavour, icing, image and message on the small cake. It also feels special for a celebration for a smaller group as they can still have a complete cake that is personalized.”
The owner of Blossom Cakery in Edmonton agrees: “The main reason we think our lunchbox cakes are popular is because they are more affordable compared to bigger cakes, but still can be customized like large cakes. Lunchbox cakes are a perfect little gift for a birthday but can also offer guests their own cake.”
Madison Bailey, president and co-founder, Popilicious Popcorn, comments: “We started selling our mini popcorn cakes in September 2020. A customer favourite, they are individually wrapped and perfectly portioned for just one person. We sell them in a box of six or 12. Each mini popcorn cake is made with a base layer of freshly popped popcorn tossed in our homemade marshmallow fluff. They’re topped with the customer’s choice of dark or white chocolate as well as the choice of candies, nuts or dried fruits. Our top three flavours are our Caramel Lover’s, Chocolate Lover’s and S’mores Lover’s. All these flavours have a dark chocolate drizzle, which pairs well with the sweet and salty toppings.”
You know minis have gone mainstream when Costco, the food warehouse giant, is offering several options. Amanda McDonald author of “7 Bakery Items Costco Just Made ‘Mini’ ” published online at eatthis.com in June 2022, reveals: “Costco may be known for its gigantic bulk products up and down every aisle. Pies, cakes, and pastries weighing upwards of three, four, and five pounds and more are the norm – that is until recently when the chain started to debut smaller options.” Member favourites include Raspberry Mini Cakes with Buttercream Icing sold in a package of six and Snickerdoodle Mini Cakes – cinnamon cakes topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and cinnamon cake crumbles – also sold in a package of six.
After a size pivot during the pandemic, small cakes are on trend and here to stay!
Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America. janedummer.com
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