Baking · Baking Trends

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).

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Baking · Cookies · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Pastry

Latvia: Alexander Torte

Flag of Latvia

Tracing the history of a cake can be tricky, particulary when several countries claim it for their own. Such is true with this recipe. Whilst many feel that it is a Latvian dessert (hence its inclusion here), it has also been claimed by the Estonians, Finnish and Swedish cuisines. The reason for its creation is just as murky; the generally accepted statement is that it was created for Alexander I, yet the reason for the creation of this dessert has eluded me.

Alexander Torte

On the surface, this dessert looks deceptively simple, consisting of two layers of sweet pastry, sandwiched together with a layer of raspberry jam and then coated with a thin lemon glace icing. The tricky part of this dessert is undoubtedly working with the pastry – sweet pastry is notoriously hard work with, being very crumbly, and one false move will lead to this delicate pastry falling apart. I used individual cutters to help combat this, rather than creating one big sheet as is traditional. I love the raspberry and lemon combination, but this recipe could be altered to choose any flavours that you wish. The result is a cross between a pastry and a biscuit, and is delicious served with a strong espresso for afternoon tea.

Alexander Torte 2

Alexander Torte

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups butter
  • 1 cup raspberry jam
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups icing sugar

Instructions

Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix briefly before kneading in the butter. Chill for 20 minutes before rolling out and cutting into shapes of your choice. Place on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven (350° F/180° C) for 12 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Spread the pastry with the jam before placing the second layer on top. Mix the icing sugar and lemon juice and spread over the tops of the biscuits. Serve with strong coffee.