By Kirk Borchardt
Modern Styles and Holiday Favourites
By Kirk Borchardt
COVID-19 has impacted the way we’re viewing food and this season’s holiday trends.
We’re seeing plant-based and organic desserts, indulgence, modern twists on traditional foods and bread from scratch making their way into seasonal holiday trends.
Plant-based & Organic Desserts
The pandemic has increased the desire for functional foods that help control and preserve health, with a focus on immunity. We see this making its way into seasonal holiday trends in the form of plant-based and organic desserts.
We’ve seen an increase in the use of pureed fruit and veggies used together in desserts. The most obvious use is in carrot or zucchini cakes, but one that we expect to see more of is a beet and chocolate cake. The sweetness of the beets works really well with the chocolate. The flavour is intensified if you roast the beets instead of boiling them before using them in a recipe.
Organic also plays an interesting role here. Consumers perceive organic as a healthier option and throughout the pandemic, they have been turning towards organic at a higher rate according to The Canadian Organic Trade Association. They are also looking for food safety reassurance — organic certifications have been a great way to solve for this need for consumers.
We’ve also seen an increase in consumers leaning into indulgent items and eating food for the pure joy of it. COVID-19 has created a rising need for joyful experiences. Indulgence will be a key trend this holiday season. Anything with real butter, real cream and dark chocolate will satisfy this trend. It’s a great time of year to enjoy the good things, treat yourself and use higher end ingredients. Look towards single origin chocolate with a high cacao percentage to take desserts to the next level. Play around with chocolates from different regions to see the variety of flavours that exist within an ingredient. Use it in a dark chocolate espresso torte for the ultimate chocolate treat. The espresso highlights the deep rich flavours of a single origin chocolate. Top it with a mirror glaze and serve it alongside macerated raspberries for a truly indulgent dessert.
Holidays are about family and tradition, and we don’t expect that to change. This year, we’re still seeing a return to simple, familiar and comfortable foods, especially in times of turbulence. However, we’re also seeing modern twists and new techniques that align with today’s tastes, needs and preferences, make their way into tried and true heritage traditions.
One of the most interesting things that I’ve seen lately is treating Challah bread like a Babka. Layering in chocolate and cinnamon to a traditional Challah bread and then splitting and twisting it like a Babka before braiding it to get rich layers of chocolate running through the dough. The enriched dough of the Challah combined with the chocolate makes for a decadent treat.
Bread from Scratch
Consumers have been baking a lot of bread during the pandemic. This holiday season, we’ll continue to see sourdough and banana breads remaining strong favourites, with the addition of Irish soda bread as a rising trend.
Bread trends plays into a lot of the other factors we just mentioned – indulgence, comfort, nostalgia. Sourdough bread in particular is interesting from a bakery perspective because it hits on many qualities consumers are looking for – artisan, back to basics and variety. There’s a seemingly endless number of ways you can use sourdough. Irish soda bread will be popular for these simple, back to basics reasons as well.
Kirk Borchardt is an Industry Chef for Ardent Mills.