Adding ethnic flavors such as Kashmiri spice to classic baked goods like carrot cake can bring new levels of excitement.

Year-round flavor occasions
Like everything else, flavor trends come and go. While the next big trend can be hard to predict, it presents opportunities for innovation. For example, just in time for the winter holiday season, Synergy Flavors debuted natural sugarplum flavor. It may be used in holiday cookies, frostings and even toaster pastries.

“Sugarplum is one of the world’s oldest sugared candies, dating back to the 17th century,” said Kayla Blanding, application technologist, Synergy Flavors. “Synergy sees sugarplum as a fanciful flavor that appeals to consumers’ quests for adventurous food and provides a decadent taste with a unique flavor.”

Cardamom is another example. The spicy flavor, along with its lemon and mint aroma, can be used in all types of baked foods, sweet and savory.

“Just a small amount elevates other flavors in the system,” Ms. Blanding said.

To meet customer requests for a more authentic bourbon flavor for baked foods, Synergy Flavors self-manufactured an oak essence into its natural bourbon flavor to give it an aged, true bourbon profile. It can further be layered with others for combinations such as bourbon maple and bourbon pecan, which are trending in the market right now.

Through consumer research, the company also identified an opportunity with florals. Recent prototypes include honeysuckle hibiscus lemon dessert bar and lavender blueberry chocolate relaxation bar.

“The term ‘botanical’ was favorable among consumers looking for natural ingredients,” said Amy Loomis, business development manager at Synergy Flavors. “Some of the most commonly used floral flavors are jasmine, rose and hibiscus. These go well with fruit flavors because they complement the sweet and tangy fruit notes and are used in baked goods such as cookies and bars.”

Artisan bread can also get a lift with new bake-stable natural savory flavors from Sensient Flavors. Many in-store baked bread varieties contain herbs and spices for visual appeal, but flavors are often necessary to deliver the taste the consumer expects.

“Parmesan garlic and Mediterranean olive oil flavors bring the right balance of indulgence to better-for-you bread,” said Sarah Diedrich, marketing associate at Sensient Flavors.

Flavorchem now offers a natural cinnamon churro-type flavor. The traditional churro is a fried Mexican pastry that is garnished with sugar and sometimes chocolate sauce.

“This cinnamon churro-type flavor replicates the fried dough nuances and is balanced with sweet cinnamon notes and a slightly roasted corn aroma,” said Nick Lombardo, applications scientist, culinary, Flavorchem,

There’s continued interest in blending sweet and savory flavors, he added. Flavorchem took an ordinary sugar cookie recipe and flavored the icing with curry, candied blood orange, Himalayan pink salt and pequin chili pepper for a desert. Another flavor Flavorchem developed for this trend was a chocolate maple bacon-flavored pretzel for an indulgent snack.

As bakers question how to clean up labels using natural flavors or flavor extracts, the answers can be sweet, savory, spicy or sour. Anything goes.