Bakers Journal

The Final Proof: May 2014

April 21, 2014
By Jane Dummer RD

Baked goods used to mean sweet goods, but today’s consumers are looking for a more sophisticated use of savoury flavours

Baked goods used to mean sweet goods, but today’s consumers are looking for a more sophisticated use of savoury flavours

savoury loaf cake  
This savoury loaf cake with cheese and olives is the type of product that showcases the opposite side of sweet consumers are exploring. 


There was a time when baked goods equalled something sweet in most people’s minds. However, that is no longer the situation. Savoury baked goods have been on the rise and there are no signs of them slowing down. It seems that cocktail hour is coming back in style for both home parties and the restaurant scene. This means people are looking to raise the bar from the typical cheese and crackers when it comes to the food they are serving. This creates the perfect space for bakers to take an adventurous lead and create delicious, mouth watering, sophisticated options that add the extra taste dimension.


In March, while checking out the trends at the CRFA Show in Toronto, I met Mark Pollard, chef and president of Sprucewood Brands. Pollard is the creator of a savoury cocktail shortbread cookie. The idea started 28 years ago when he owned a catering business. His customers could not believe the flavour when they bit into what they thought was a sweet shortbread cookie. To their surprise, it was packed with a blend of local Ontario two and four year old aged cheddars to give a delicious savoury zest while still maintaining the shortbread texture of the cookie. 

Fast forward to today. With 400 accounts across Canada, Sprucewood’s savoury cookies are selling two to one compared to the sweet shortbreads. The ingredients are simple, high quality and the artisan proprietary techniques give the shortbread an eight-month shelf-life. All the savoury cookies start with flour, butter and the blend of cheddar cheeses. The top selling flavour is Spicy Thai (with a smoky finish rather than hot) and my favourite flavour is the aged cheddar and caramelized onion. Stay tuned for three new flavours to hit the shelves this fall: aged cheddar and chipotle; aged cheddar and herb de Provence; and parmesan and pesto.

There are many different ways to talk a walk on the savoury side. Incorporating the taste of umami, which closely relates to the taste of savoury, is one. Since 1985, umami has been scientifically recognized as one of the basic tastes, along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Mushrooms are one of the foods that support the umami taste. Joe Salvo, president of Ponderosa Mushrooms in Port Coquitlam, B.C., agrees that savoury flavour in baked goods is becoming more popular. Salvo has seen interest from bakers for both the dried and powder form of mushrooms. The dried mushrooms can be added into breads and bagels and used as an ingredient in fillings such as a mincemeat tart. Ponderosa Mushrooms works directly with the growers and grinds the mushrooms on-site for a premium quality powder.

“The mushroom powder may be more versatile for the baking industry, as it has great potential for the artisan baker wanting to create new savoury flavour profiles,” he says. Salvo recommends the porcini, portabella and chanterelle mushrooms due to their flavours and colours.

Savoury baking has enjoyed an extended popularity in Europe compared to Canada and the U.S. ACE Bakery was one of the first bakeries (with large distribution) to offer a line of savoury breads. Marcus Mariathas, director of product development and ACE’s master baker, explains.

“Our rosemary focaccia is our most popular savoury bread as it has various applications from sandwiches and crostino, all the way to crumbs for breading. Our Kalamata and Moroccan olive loaves [ACE Olive Boule and ACE Olive Fougasse] include sour starters and thyme, which add an earthiness and savouriness that is akin to umami.” ACE developed and launched olive focaccia lunga and tomato focaccia lunga to offer other interesting savoury options to their consumers. Staying on trend, ACE is developing a sweet and savoury combination of maple cranberry nut topped with sesame seeds for an oval loaf, which will be in selected stores before the summer.

As the trend of savoury sweet gains momentum on the consumer’s palate, it is the ideal time for bakers to be creative and develop interesting flavour combinations to add to their current offerings. This is the opportunity to fashion new and delicious breads and baked goods for the consumer wanting to appreciate the intense flavour dimension on their cocktail menus – cheers!

Jane Dummer, RD, is a leading dietitian for the Canadian food and nutrition industry. Jane offers services specializing in agri-food, functional foods and food safety. For more information, visit .

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