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Keeping up with changes in trends

A crucial aspect to any successful business is knowing what a consumer wants. This is true in the baking industry, where trends change quickly and bakers are expected to catch up with the latest trends to sustain their business. One of the easiest ways to keep up, is by getting constant and consistent feedback, because nothing is more valuable than a satisfied customer. To retain a customer's interests, you need to analyze what flavors attract them and update your recipes and menu periodically. But this is no small feat.

To help you on this journey, we have put together a few prominent baking trends for 2020 which will help you serve your customers better.

"Freshness" or in other words "The Homely Appeal"

Freshness is not a brand-new concept, but it is greatly valued by customers. No commercial cake can beat the freshness and creativity of a customized home-baked cake. Especially in a crisis like this where people prioritize cleanliness and hygiene over a cheaper store-bought cake. And a home kitchen beats any commercial bakery in this space.

Home baked cakes are usually made from scratch after an order is confirmed. Customers are assured that their cake is fresh, preservative-free and made with high-quality ingredients. This makes the experience of ordering a home-baked cake more reassuring. What is also pivotal is the range of customization that is available, not just in terms of flavors, but also in cake decor and theme. Customers desire a personal touch in every offering and no one can provide it better than home bakers when it comes to baked delights.

Keep these variables in mind as you engage in different marketing activities. Actively promote what you practice and ensure your unique selling points are evident. Phrases like "baked-to-order", "hygienic", "highest quality ingredients", "custom", and "safe delivery" can be used in promotional material. In regular conversations with customers, bring out different benefits of a home-baked cake.

Organic all the way

People are more conscious of what they eat these days. This places a great deal of focus on ingredients that go into a cake or dessert. As people actively practice a healthy eating lifestyle, the use of organic ingredients is at an all-time high. Not only do these ingredients add a new definition and earthiness to desserts, they also make a healthier alternative to chemically processed, preservative, and sugar-laden options.

There are small changes that you can make in the choice of ingredients. Switch out bleached sugar in favor of sulphur-free sugar; pick free-range eggs. Organic flour, made from grains grown without pesticides, artificial ripening, or chemical processing, are very popular these days. Instead of artificial colors, incorporate natural colorants in frosting and fondants. Choose ethically sourced chocolates over compounds, and vanilla pods instead of essence. For cakes that have fruity flavors, switch to fresh fruits and compote made from scratch. If you are attempting a floral design, consider the possibility of adding edible flowers. People are willing to pay a premium for healthy choices. So, put in that extra effort to source ingredients. Buy a quality ingredient, even if it is priced a little higher than your regular produce because a clean and healthy label on your desserts is worth the extra effort, energy, and money.

Keto, Gluten-free and Vegan

Earlier, getting a vegetarian, egg-free cake, was the only alternative to a classic cake. But now, the health-conscious consumer landscape has changed vastly. With new diets gaining mainstream attention, it has given rise to newer eating practices. Furthermore, allergies from certain ingredients and the reality of gluten intolerance have to be taken into serious consideration. These words and diets might sound alien but they are not as complex as they sound. Some basic substitutions in your baking ingredients can help you meet specific requirements of this niche crowd.

Here are some pointers to help you with diet-specific baking practices:

Gluten-Free

People with celiac disease or gluten intolerance tend to normally avoid most baked products because of the presence of gluten, a protein found in wheat flour. Now gluten is what helps flour rise and gives baked goods their unique chewy texture. But a regular flour can be substituted with any store-bought gluten-free flour. You can also make your own variant at home with a combination of different flours. Mix three parts of white rice flour, two parts of potato, and one part of tapioca starch to get the right texture and consistency.

Gluten-free products require a greater amount of leavening agent and need more time to rest which helps the dough rise better. Ensure that the baking powder you use is also gluten-free.

Vegan

Vegan baking in simple terms is plant-based baking. Vegans avoid products derived from animals which means you have to substitute a lot more ingredients to make your baked goods vegan-friendly. There is no denying that this is more challenging than other diets, but it can be mastered with practice.

First and foremost, eggs can be replaced with ground flaxseed, applesauce, mashed bananas, and other types of fruit puree. Milk can be substituted with soy milk or almond milk. Similarly, butter can be replaced with nut butter, coconut oil, vegetable oil or any oil with a neutral taste. Vegans tend to avoid honey as it is obtained from bees, and refined sugar as it is processed with bone char derived from animals. For natural sweeteners, use dates, agave nectar or molasses which adds a layer of refreshing complexity to your dessert, making it even more delicious.

What is great about these alternatives is that they are readily available in most kitchens or can be bought from any store.

Ketogenic

A keto diet is meant to help the body shift from using carbohydrates to fats as a source of energy during ketosis. This is why in a keto diet, all forms of carbohydrate are limited or avoided to a large extent. This is great news for a baker since regular butter and fats can be used while baking. However, there are a few other changes that need to be made in terms of ingredients. When it comes to flour, refined flour should be replaced with almond or coconut flour, which is higher in protein. Regular cow's milk has a lot of carbohydrates in it, despite being high in fat. This is the reason why cow's milk needs to be substituted with almond or cashew milk. Instead of refined sugar, consider choices like stevia or keto sweeteners like monk fruit, which are readily available online.

The keto friendly dessert range is comparatively limited, consisting only of brownies, cheesecakes, cookies, and some variants of cakes. Have a detailed discussion with clients about ingredients. Do a thorough research before you commit to a diet-friendly baking style, since even small imbalances can put a person out of a keto metabolic state.

Seasonal, Special-Edition and Infused Desserts 

Fusion desserts are a rage this year. Indian desserts, like rasmalai or gulab jamun, combined in a classic cake, is the kind of fusion we are talking about. Combinations such as nuts and kasturi methi cookies or mango and coconut pannacotta are interesting fusion options. Seasonal fruits are another wonderful addition to desserts. Desserts infused with coffee, tea or even alcohol are all-time favorites and it is hard to go wrong with them.

When made exclusively for different seasons or festivals, the limited availability of these desserts make them a desirable option. These simple twists on your traditional recipes are perfect for occasions like dinner parties, high tea, weddings or corporate events. These specialties tend to stand out in your menu and help you make good profit margins, provided they are priced well.

We hope that this introduction to the 2020 baking trends helps you with your baking adventures. Take your business to new heights by starting something new this year. Happy Baking!

This blog was contributed by Tanushree Pillai.