As the baked good du-jour changes with alarming frequency, is it possible to predict what will be big in kitchens over the coming months?
I've been baking for about 2 years and in that relatively short time I've seen a few baking trends come and go, and it would seem that was once the epitome of cool just a couple of years ago is yesterday's news (but still equally delicious). Here's a look back at some of them, and some tips for what's to come.
Not so long ago you couldn't move for cupcake recipes, the industry was huge. Everywhere you looked you'd find cupcake books, cupcake stands and every cooking magazine supplied recipes of their own. Entire shops dedicated to the miniature marvel cropped up in abundance and it seemed the world would never fall out of love with cupcakes.
Fast forward a couple of years and cupcakes are old hat. Those cupcake stands that would have cost you £20 in 2009 are lining the bargain bins at £5 a pop.
There does seem to be one exception to this rule which is keeping the cupcake alive – the exquisitely perfect variety. Only a special kind of baker can make these – the perfectionist, i.e. not me. For many of us it's too much stress and bother, but if you are in the other camp, try Miranda Gore Browne's exquisite cranberry and white chocolate cupcakes, or Eric Lanlard's chai latte cupcakes, for something a little different.
I won't blame you if you haven't heard of these. Whoopie pies seemed to disappear almost as quickly as they arrived. An American import, they were heralded as the 'new' cupcake about 6 months ago. And they were cute, easy to customise and can be made with lots of different tastes.
Perhaps because nobody could quite bring themselves to say the words whoopie pie, or perhaps because once you have one recipe you don't really need another one, either way they never really took off, instead making way for the not dissimilar in appearance macaron.
These are the current trend and are pretty much everywhere. In many ways the macaron is the perfect baking trend. Lots of bright colours? Check. Difficult to master? Check. Premium prices in fancy shops? Check. Magazine covers? Check. Fancy Books? Check. They have everything.
I've tried to make macarons twice, and failed miserably on both occasions. Anyone who can make them must feel enormously smug, and for the rest of us we can splash out on one by someone like Eric Lanlard and feel its justified because they're nigh-on impossible to make at home.
Well it should be pretty obvious that if I had the definite answer to this then I'd be able to stock up on some shares and get rich quick. Sadly I don't, but looking past the pages and pages of macarons that are filling up my magazines, there are a few common themes that could be big in the next couple of years – remember if they come true, you heard it here first. Here's my top tips:
Nostalgic and traditional desserts
This has been hanging around for a while now, and I think it could get even bigger. Partly Mad Men inspired and partly thanks to people like Heston Blumenthal putting a modern twist on old classics, making a trifle has never been cooler. You could get started with this Eton Mess by Eric Lanlard, who adds popping candy to make it his own.
I saw a lot of recipes for these over the Christmas period, unsurprisingly, but their small size, lots of variations, availability in trendy shops and trickiness to perfect all scream trend. Try these Paul A Young Port and Stilton truffles for something a little unusual.
The trend for producing smaller and smaller intricate little bakes seems to be continuing. Those giant cupcakes you used to see were frankly off-putting and you couldn't eat them in a dignified manner, now we have delicate macarons, cute little biscuits and dainty chocolate truffles.
Exotic (weird) fruits
Recipes featuring exotic (and difficult to find) fruits have increasingly been cropping up lately. Mango, pomegranate and passionfruit are not exactly new, but they are expensive and not as readily available as apples and strawberries. Watch out for even more 'what the hell is that' inducing recipes to amaze your friends with soon.
Are you a keen amateur baker? Are you passionate about your hobby? Can you turn out a an exceptional celebration cake, mouth-watering pastries or a great loaf of bread? Do you fancy putting your skills to the test?
BBC Two is looking for amateur bakers across the country to take part in The Great British Bake Off series two. If you’re interested and would like to find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7067 4876.
Also worth your attention:
Recipe – Hot gingerbread souffle
* Photo by Amy Davies
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