The (Baking) Development of 2014

[Note: this started off life as a post about the potential trends of 2014 in the baking world, but t the end of February, it’s a little late. Therefore this should not be viewed as a prediction, but rather as a running commentary.]

As in all disciplines, baking [(as well as food in general!) goes through trends. We all remember the Great Cupcake Extravaganza of 2011, the rise of homemade bread (pun completely intended) and the Surprise Cronut Frenzy of 2013, which sent downtown Manhattan almost to standstill, as hundreds queued around the block in order to taste this delicacy.

The question is then, what will be the next trends to hit us?

As you may expect, predictions vary. I read one article that claimed both that big cakes would be in, tapping in to the family-style, and them almost immediately afterwards claiming that the trend for big cakes was over. Logically that argument seems a little flawed to me. However, there are many others which deserve a mention, and some that I’ll be developing my thoughts on, not to mention giving you my own suggestions.

Naked Cakes

Image here

The natural trend has been developing in the culinary world for some years now, particularly focusing on the twin issues of sustainability and organic produce. Taking this trend to an aesthetic level, the end of last year saw a development of stripping cakes back to their most basic elements (and not in my lazy method of just not decorating it!). This rustic trend has reached substantial popularity in wedding cakes – thankfully taking over from the cakes of cheese – and the focus on fruit and spices (such as lavender and rose) creates a lighter, less sugar-filled cake.

Choux Pastry

Image here

Apparently this is going to be the next development in French Patisserie, and the displays in many noted Parisian shops seem to confirm this. The previous macaroon trend was beautiful – however, many of the macaroons I tried were almost sickeningly sweet – one shop almost left me in a (albeit delicious) sugar coma! Now whilst I cannot comment on the development of choux pastry in British Bakeries across the country,I can comment that I have eaten more choux pastry this year than in all of last year, and that this trend is one that I hope will continue to wind its delicious way through 2014.

Baking Mash-ups

Cronut – Image here

The Townie – Britain’s contribution to the baking mash up! Image here

A continuation from last year, suggestions have been mooted regarding the combinations of two desserts, or adding a new spin onto an old classic. Suggestions from Good Food Magazine include the ‘Sticky Toffee Pie’ and ‘Party Dodgers’ – what I can only assume is a cross between a party ring and a jammy dodger.

My personal opinion – Britain isn’t going far enough. At the moment, as with many of the trends, the USA is the pioneer, from the ubiquitous cronut to the townie (brownie-tart) and the duffin (doughnut-muffin). Compared to these delicious treats, turning a lemon drizzle cake into a roulade is simply playing it safe.

Increased Complexity in Baking

Charlotte Royale – the infamous brain cake! Image here

When the Great British Bake-Off began, the level of technicality in the baking challenges was far simpler than in the previous series. I dread to think what dastardly challenges have been thought up for this years competitors, but one result of this is that the previous mystery that surrounded patisserie has dissipated somewhat. No longer seen as overly complex, amateurs are now far more likely to use techniques such as tempering. I would expect that this will develop through this year, though due to a probable plateauing of abilities and equipment availability I would suggest that this would not extend past this.

Biscuits

Image from Bubble and Sweet -Pinterest again delivers some beautiful biscuits!

Sweet Ambs Cookies - Ideal Wedding Favours 7

These from Into the Wildwood are also rather stunning.

I’ve not seen this one written down anywhere, but this is a trend which I feel should come back soon. Biscuits are a ridiculously undervalued baked good – capable of endless variation, easily portable and completely beautiful when decorated appropriately (See the examples below!) All of the other baking trends seem to have found some form of resurgence during the past few years except the biscuit, and I think it is about time the humble biscuit got its due!

How about the rest of you then? Any comments or omissions?

(This post references the Good Food article as a predominant source. There are several other articles which suggest baking trends, though many are similar to those mentioned in this article).

Oreo Fudge in Five Minutes.

This is possibly the most dangerous recipe you will ever make. Read the title – enough said.

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5 Minute Oreo Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 12 crushed Oreos
  • 3 cups of white chocolate
  • 1 can of condensed milk

Instructions:

Combine the chocolate and condensed milk in a microwavable bowl and place in the microwave on a medium heat for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, before repeating until the mixture is completely melted and smooth.

Line an 8in x 8in tin with baking parchment and place a layer of crushed Oreos at the bottom. Top with the chocolate mixture and sprinkle with the remainder of the Oreos, pressing in slightly. Leave to set before cutting into pieces.

The Netherlands: Poffertjes

Netherlands flag outline

Last but by no means least my favourite discovery from the trip to Amsterdam. Poffertjes are little yeasted pancakes, traditionally made with buckwheat flour and served with a variety of toppings. My personal favourite – nutella and icing sugar. However, they are also delicious served with fruit and ice-cream, the freshness of the strawberries cutting through the pancakes.

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Thankfully these little beauties very easy to make, and so I can now have them whenever I want. Dangerous, but good. If you don’t have a poffertjes pan (as I’m sure most people don’t!) either use a heavy-bottomed frying pan or the bottom of a mini muffin tin on top of the hob – not ideal, but it will work.

Poffertjes 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of milk, warmed
  • 3/4 tsp dried active yeast
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • Icing sugar and ice cream, to serve.

Instructions:

Add the yeast to the warm milk and leave to prove. Mix the flour and eggs together until smooth, and gradually add the milk, beating in until smooth. Add in the salt and leave for 45 minutes to rise.

Heat your pan and lightly grease with butter. Pour a small amount of the mixture into each hole, and cook until the sides are crispy and bubbles form around the side of the mixture. Flip over using a fork or a skewer, and cook for another 30 seconds. Serve hot, sprinkled with icing sugar and ice cream.

10 Minute Weekday Bread!

Now this recipe is  a complete winner for days like last Wednesday when (like me) you have the following conundrun:

  1. You need some bread. I mean, really need it! I don’t keep bread in as I don’t eat the plastic sliced stuff and the rest goes off too quickly.
  2. You have no strong bread flour. Sad to say that I just don’t keep it in most of the time.

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Anyway this recipe fills the need. It takes ten minutes to make, and whilst it takes an hour to rise, lets face it – you don’t have to spend that time attached to the bread! If you are lucky enough to have a warm house, your bread will hopefully rise of its own accord. If though you are like me and not so lucky, preheat your oven to Gas Mark 3 and leave it for 10 minutes. Place your dough in the oven and then turn it down immediately, this will help the bread rise.

I would apologise about the Instagram photo, but it was 9pm at night, it was delicious, steaming hot – and I really wanted to eat it!

10 Minute Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of cold water

Instructions:

Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the cold water. Stir until it forms a dough, adding a little more water if you need to in order to bring it together. Knead it until it becomes smooth and form into a round loaf. Score with a cross on the top, cover and leave to rise for an hour.

Place the loaf on a baking sheet covered with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6 and bake for 30 minutes, until it is golden and crispy on top.