In the world of baking and pastry arts, culinary innovation knows no bounds. Throughout 2023, a delightful trend has been taking center stage, offering a unique blend of elegance and creativity to some of our favorite indulgences - cakes and cupcakes.
With the help of baking extracts, delicate and fragrant floral essences like lavender, rose, and violet, are brought to life, leaving an indelible mark on both taste and aesthetics.
Herbal flavors, such as spearmint, rosemary and sage, have also been making their mark in the industry. Offering a unique and savory twist to traditional treats, they too are turning bakeries into whimsical gardens of flavor.
The Floral Renaissance and Baking Flavors and Extracts
Floral flavors have long held a special place in the culinary world, and now, with the availability of a wide range of baking extracts, their ethereal aromas and subtle tastes can elevate baked goods to a realm of sophistication and beauty.
Lavender, with its soothing aroma and delicate purple hues, has become a favorite amongst bakers. When infused into cake batters with the help of extracts, lavender lends an irresistible hint of floral sophistication. Paired with light and fluffy buttercream or cream cheese frostings, lavender cakes are not only a treat for the taste buds but also a visual delight.
The calming effect of lavender adds an extra layer of allure to these delightful desserts. Imagine savoring a lavender-infused cake, with each bite delivering a subtle floral kiss, reminiscent of a stroll through a fragrant lavender field.
We especially love Lavender Flavor for its versatility- it pairs with both sweet and savory:
- Vanilla and lavender are a classic pairing. Vanilla's creamy, sweet undertones balance the floral notes of lavender. Consider using vanilla extract in lavender-infused desserts like panna cotta or custards.
- Lavender can add an intriguing twist to chocolate desserts. Combine lavender with chocolate in brownies to add a sophisticated flavor profile to an old favorite.
- The bright and zesty notes of citrus, such as lemon or orange, can complement lavender's floral profile in cakes, cookies or scones.
- Almond and lavender make an excellent pairing. You can use almond in lavender-flavored cakes, cookies, or shortbread.
- Lavender can be paired with herbs, such as rosemary, for a complex and aromatic flavor profile. The combination does not have to be reserved for savory dishes - they could harmonize in batter and icing.
Rose Petal Perfection
Before vanilla, rose was the most popular flavor in the U.S.1 Rose is especially popular this year, finding itself in multiple trend categories. It has both floral and exotic, or global, appeal. While it might just be blooming in the U.S., Middle Eastern and West Asian countries have loved this flavor for quite some time.
Rosewater imparts a romantic and fragrant note to cakes, making them perfect for weddings and other special occasions. Delicate layers of cake filled with flavor that is floral and fruity, and adorned with crystallized rose petals, offer a taste of pure enchantment.
At Bickford, we love Rose for the same reason we love Lavender - it’s versatility. Rosewater can be used in a wide range of baked goods, from cakes and pastries to cookies:
- Vanilla and rose make an elegant pairing. Vanilla's sweet and creamy undertones complement the floral aroma of rose.
- Citrus fruits like lemon and orange complement the floral notes of rose. The zesty, slightly tart flavors of citrus can balance the sweetness.
- Pistachio and rose work well together in both sweet and savory dishes. Consider a baklava inspired cake or cookie.
- Rose and lavender can create a beautiful, aromatic combination. Use both in desserts like lavender and rose shortbread cookies or lavender and rose-flavored macarons.
Violet's Subtle Charm
Amidst this bouquet of floral delights, another entrancing flavor deserves its moment in the spotlight: violet. Violet flavoring, with its subtle and slightly sweet notes, adds a whimsical charm to floral-infused cakes. Just like lavender and rose, violet offers a unique taste experience that transports you to a magical garden filled with blooms.
Violet-flavored cakes often feature a vibrant purple hue, mirroring the regal beauty of this enchanting flower. In the form of violet extract, this subtle yet captivating flavor has the power to elevate cakes to new heights of elegance and creativity.
When using violet in culinary creations, it's essential to use it sparingly, as its flavor can be quite subtle. Here are some flavors and ingredients that pair well with violet:
- Almond and violet are a delightful pairing. Try almond flavor in violet-flavored cakes, macarons, or pastries.
- Violet is a classic flavor in liqueurs and syrups used to make cocktails. So, why not add champagne flavoring to create a cocktail inspired dessert?
- Combining violet with lavender can create a complex and aromatic floral flavor profile. Use both in recipes like lavender and violet shortbread cookies.
- The freshness of mint can enhance the floral notes of violet. Use a hint of mint extract in frosting for a powerful combination.
Herbal Harmony In Baked Goods
While floral-infused cakes have been stealing the spotlight, there's another culinary trend that deserves recognition: the use of herbal flavors in baked goods.
A trend fueled by social media, “the apothecary aesthetic”2 is a celebration of all things homegrown that embraces the yesteryear vibes of flowers and herbs, including searches like “sage green cupcakes” and “daisy cupcakes.”
Spearmint, with its refreshing and mildly sweet flavor, is finding its way into an array of baked goods. Imagine biting into a spearmint-infused brownie, where the bright, invigorating notes of mint harmonize with rich chocolate. Spearmint cookies, too, offer a delightful combination of crispness and coolness.
Here are some other combinations we encourage you to try:
- The bright and zesty notes of lemon work beautifully with spearmint. Lemon flavor can enhance the freshness of spearmint in recipes like lemon and spearmint cupcakes or lemon and spearmint shortbread.
- Spearmint and ginger create a dynamic flavor combination. The spiciness of ginger complements the refreshing quality of spearmint. Use ginger in spearmint-infused cookies, scones, or cakes.
Rosemary, a beloved herb in savory dishes, is crossing over into the sweet territory of baking. The piney, earthy aroma of rosemary can add depth and complexity to cakes and cookies. Lemon rosemary pound cakes and rosemary shortbread cookies are prime examples of how this herb can elevate baked goods to a new level of sophistication.
With rosemary, you can really get creative in the kitchen:
- Pair with honey in breads or cakes. The natural sweetness of honey pairs beautifully with rosemary's herbal notes.
- The bright and zesty notes of citrus, such as orange, complement rosemary's earthy character. Orange flavoring can enhance the freshness of rosemary in scones or shortbread.
Sage, also often associated with savory dishes, is making waves in the world of baking. Its subtle, earthy flavor pairs surprisingly well with sweet elements. Imagine savoring a slice of sage-infused apple pie, where the herb's complexity enhances the sweetness of the fruit filling. Sage and honey cornbread is another delightful creation that balances the savory and sweet with finesse.
When incorporating sage into baking, it's essential to balance its strong flavor with complementary ingredients:
- Sage is a classic herb used in dishes with pumpkin or squash. So, why not see what you can do with sage and pumpkin flavors in the bakery?
- Apple’s natural sweetness can work well with sage in everything from scones to cupcakes.
- Keep it savory, and maybe even a bit smokey, with bacon flavor.
Embrace The Floral & Herbal Symphony
As the trend of floral and herbal flavors in baked goods gains momentum in 2023, bakers and pastry chefs are discovering the intriguing possibilities of marrying these flavors with traditional sweet treats. Whether you're drawn to the delicate allure of lavender and violet or the savory sophistication of rosemary and sage, there's a delightful creation waiting for you.
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