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Rising to the challenge

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The Great British Bake-Off achieved a peak audience of 14.5 million this year, indicating that home baking fever isn’t cooling.

Or rather it may be, but only temperature-wise, as one of the big trends in the natural home baking sector is … well, not baking. “One of the biggest trends is raw,” says Mark Hubbard, co-owner of Fodder in Hereford. “We’ve seen a massive increase in organic coconut oils and butters, cacao powder, butter and nibs for use in raw recipes. It has a lot to do with Deliciously Ella and the food bloggers doing really good food in an ethical and mostly vegan way.”

“Plant-based as an umbrella which encompasses raw, sprouted, gluten- and dairy-free is huge,” says Amy Clinkard, own-label manager at Planet Organic. “Since we launched our raw, sprouted flours we’ve seen significant growth and development of sprouted foods category. We’re also seeing increased sales of grain-free ingredients such as coconut and almond flour as higher protein options.”

Tasneem Backhouse, sales & marketing director, EHL Ingredients, sees protein as a big trend: “Protein has been the standout buzzword of 2015, and as such, nuts have seen a surge in sales. Demand for almonds has risen by 20% in 2015 compared to 2014.”

Clinkard believes home baking continues to be popular because consumers distrust mainstream food brands. “They also desire baked goods that tick more boxes, be it from a lifestyle perspective (free-from) or nutritional perspective (unrefined sugar, added superfoods), and home baking allows consumers to meet a set of personal criteria.”

Inventive baking

Hubbard sees gluten-free as a big driver in this area. “People are beginning to be far more inventive around ingredients like buckwheat, which is naturally gluten-free. They are asking not just for buckwheat flour but roasted buckwheat and raw groats – they are looking for extended products from the gluten-free range.”

The rise in popularity of ancient grains has impacted the home-baking sector, with more unusual flours becoming increasingly available, like Orgran’s Multigrain Self Raising Flour with Quinoa, Doves Farm’s Einkorn Wholemeal Flour, Rude Health’s Organic Sprouted Whole Spelt Flour, and Planet Organic’s Sprouted Red Quinoa Flour.

Backhouse says: “Alternative baking ingredients, many of which are gluten-free, are increasing in popularity due to the trend for free-from foods. We expect sales of gram flour, buckwheat flour, polenta, ground almonds and organic rice flour to rise in 2016.”

Backhouse has also witnessed a surge in popularity of healthy seeds – such as chia, pumpkin, sunflower, blue and white poppy seeds, sesame, golden linseed, caraway and millet seeds – as well as consumers’ undying thirst for all things coconut.

“We’ve seen some exciting new trends in home baking. ‘Alternative ingredients’ have been a hit in 2015, specifically the inclusion of fruits and vegetables such as medjool dates, sweet potatoes, courgette and avocado as key ingredients or replacements for sugar and flour,” says Clinkard.

And if customers want a quick fix, they can always use a mix. Organ’s offer includes a Gluten-Free Caramel Fudge Brownie Mix; Amisa has an Organic Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix; and Sweetpea Pantry’s range includes a Ginger Giggles Biscuit Mix.

Sweet thing?

Think of baking, and sugar springs to mind as a main ingredient in many cakes, biscuits and puddings. But will the increased awareness of the dangers of excess sugar affect the home baking market?

In the health sector, Clinkard thinks probably not. “I think home baking will continue to grow, specifically within the health food sector. We all need a ‘treat’ every now and then and as consumers become more educated, the demand for highly processed treats, containing refined sugar, will decrease whilst consumers seek out alternatives like low-GI coconut sugar, pure stevia or raw honey.”

 

BAKE ORGANIC

Because of the current trends around home cooking, there is a big seasonal increase in organic flours and ingredients for mince pies, puddings and cakes,”
says The Soil Association’s Clare McDermott commenting on the upsurge in organic baking over the seasonal period. 

Fodder’s Mark Hubbard is seeing this rise: “At the moment we’re seeing a huge explosion in dried fruits because everyone’s making Christmas cakes and puddings – all the seasonal things that are made a couple of months before Christmas.” 

To support this seasonal uplift, the Soil Association has put a variety of festive recipes on its website to inspire people to make their own Christmas treats.

 

HOT STOCKS

Gluten-free bake-off
Clearspring’s Organic Buckwheat Flour and Organic Quinoa Flour make up part of its new gluten-free kitchen cupboard range.

Chocolate love
Raw Living’s Unroasted and Organic Cacao Butter Arriba Nacional is derived from 100% pure Ecuadorian Arriba Nacional cacao beans.

In the raw
The Raw Chocolate Company’s offer includes raw, Fairtrade organic Cacao Nibs from whole cacao beans from Peru, and Organic Coconut Palm Sugar.

Liquid flavour
Natures Aid Liquid Coconut Premium Oil is sourced  from premium, non-GM coconuts, and is a healthy alternative to traditional cooking oils and adds extra flavour to baking.

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