How baking’s savoury side is trending as Canadians look for new twists on old favourites.
By Jane Dummer
The pandemic has contributed to the taste for savoury in baking for a variety of reasons. First up is nostalgia. It’s all about providing positive emotional reactions. In crisis, people may attach their emotions to another time or place where things were perceived as easier and happier. Next up is adventure. As we navigate our way out of all the pandemic restrictions, people are craving adventure. And lastly is perceived health advantage of savoury over sweet baked goods.
When you think about it, many of the nostalgic flavours are savoury flavours. As consumers gravitate toward comfort and familiar, flavours and ingredients like salt, cheese, caramel, cinnamon, and nuts are common choices. Rachel Nicholson, Executive Pastry Chef, Langdon Hall agrees, “One of my favourite savoury ingredients is our in-house smoked pecans. They are so intense and add depth to any dessert including panna cottas, and eclairs. They are a fantastic hit of flavour and texture, even as a garnish. We also like to add cheese. A good, aged Parmesan can really lift a breakfast muffin and help to pull the sweet notes out of fruit, especially peaches. My absolute favourite is corn! I have had a version of a corn sorbet on the fall menu several times. It’s unexpected but fits perfectly and has a beautiful colour. It’s one of our best seasonal sellers. Also, we have a fantastic honey cornbread bun for pulled pork sandwiches and will offer a corn muffin for guests in late autumn.”
Not surprising, everyday brands including Tim Hortons and Dunkin’ Donuts jumped on the nostalgic savoury bandwagon with new spins on familiar flavours. They added limited edition options to their menu (in late 2020) with the salted caramel donut at Tim Hortons and Dunkin Donut’s ghost pepper frosted donut.
Want more of a savoury side adventure? Eric Forbes, Owner/Chef de cuisine KCB Streetfood Food Truck, formally the Kimberley City Bakery, explains, “The Pretzel Croissant. The combination of a very buttery inside, locked in by our German traditional pretzel making. The taste of a pretzel on the outside, still makes people wonder how it’s possible to change a traditional baked good and elevate it to a new level. It can be used as a panini, sandwich, sweet (s’more, or French toast), or by itself. We have several sweet and savoury croissants, including the Kouign Amann (pronounced Queen Ah mahn), which is a sweet and salty croissant shaped like a muffin, with fillings that include cheese and fruit together, giving a sweet and savoury combinations customers love.”
Move over bacon, you’re not the only game in town! The savoury trend has extended far beyond that traditional taste. Forbes describes, “People are happy to hunt out extreme ideas. Things that are different. Food trucks are almost encouraged, more than others, to try the unexpected flavours and items that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. We’ve played and created the Caesar donut with a simple syrup vodka glaze and a fireball whiskey pumpkin pie. People want something new and different, and the sweet and savoury combinations offer that!”
The pandemic has driven interest in health and wellness. Health can be a big part in the move toward savoury baked goods for consumers. Options offering a balance between health and indulgence are proving popular. There are opportunities to utilize flavours and ingredients that are health forward like cinnamon, ginger, matcha, chilies, cardamon, mint, and unique ingredients like tomatoes and beets. Nicholson adds, “The appetite for a mixture of sweet and savoury has grown. For example, our plum and tomato jam scones. They are seasonal, only when we have the best tomatoes available. Plus, they are surprisingly sweet from the combination of ripe tomatoes and great plums. A favourite with customers.” Forbes agrees on the health front, “We have had success with our sourdough on the savoury side. We have a marble sour with spinach and a beet dough, rolled in layers to produce a very fun looking, healthy addition to our already popular bread line-up.”
The trend for savoury combinations hitting the sweet spot of consumers isn’t going away any time soon and there are plenty of ways to create delicious, eye-catching, health forward options to keep them interested.
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