Novelty cake flavors are often sought after for the nostalgic, feel-good sentiments they provide. That is why strawberry lemonade, root beer and lavender are popular ingredients for the cake business in 2019.
Miredys and Karla Peguero, founders and owners of Cake Bash Studio & Bakery located in Van Nuys, Calif., recently celebrated their first year in business, boasting custom cakes and sweet treats in specialty flavors such as guava and cheese and passion fruit colada. Born and raised in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Karla Peguero fell in love with baking at the age of four and remembers watching her mom bake birthday cakes that brought her family and friends together. Currently, Chef Karla has a YouTube channel with more than 120,000 subscribers and an Instagram page with 11,000 followers.
Extraordinary Desserts, with two locations in the heart of San Diego, isn’t satisfied with mastering just one aspect of the business. When you talk with owner Karen Krasne, the first thing you notice is her passion. Whether she’s discussing travel, education, family or business, her enthusiasm and energy are on full display.
Many of the products at Extraordinary Desserts are topped with fresh flowers, something Ms. Krasne picked up from her time in Hawaii. Another noticeable trait of many of the bakery’s desserts is gold leaf, a French/Parisian component. With dazzling desserts that pop out of the display case, the bakery uses colors to set it apart from its peers.
“We’re very colorful,” Ms. Krasne said. “Where a lot of bakeries can use beige and brown tones because that’s the color of dough and that’s the color of chocolate, it’s important to me that it’s a painter’s palette.”
The complexity of each dessert’s look extends to its taste as well. Ms. Krasne pointed out that the products have a lot of layers and textures that have become another calling card of the bakery.
Consumers today want creative flavors and textures, in addition to clean labels and no chemicals.
“It’s got to taste good first and foremost,” said Rhonda Delaney, vice-president of sales and merchandising for Lawrence Foods, Inc.
And keep the flowers coming, Ms. Delaney recommended, because “Consumers love them. And everyone’s looking for the next unicorn … will it be llamas, flamingos or mermaids? Whatever you choose, make a bold display work for you.”
Mark Seaman, Certified Master Sugar Artist and specialty application chef for Barry Callebaut North America, pointed out that llamas are trending, without a doubt.
“I call the llama the new unicorn,” he said. “Create a display in your shop that shows a cohesive design for a llama-themed party: a cake, cupcakes, and decorated sugar cookies all featuring the llama.”
Also, tropical fruits are on the rise, so Mr. Seaman recommended incorporating guava or dragon fruit into cake fillings and icings.
“Coconut sugar carries a healthy halo as an alternative sugar,” he added. “Experiment with coconut sugar in your cake base. Or try Coco Niu, a coconut sugar-based chocolate from Van Leer. Oat milk is emerging as the next milk alternative for lactose-intolerant consumers, as well as those seeking a healthy alternative to cow’s milk.”
Another flavor to incorporate is avocado, which has a mild flavor that pairs well with others including chocolate.
“Avocado delivers a rich and creamy mouthfeel,” Mr. Seaman said, “and its natural fattiness accentuates a cake’s flavor profile.”
Shawna LeMott, marketing manager for Lucks Food Decorating Co., agreed that cake artists should get ready for 2019 desserts that are good-for-you, in many ways.
“Customers are looking to treat themselves with indulgent pick-me-ups that make them happy while also keeping an eye on natural ingredients,” she said.
Additionally, weddings and other spring celebrations provide ample opportunities to cross-merchandise and showcase your cake shop’s best promotional efforts. One example involves offering party supplies that complement cakes. At Cake Life Bake Shop in Philadelphia, chef/owners Nima Etemadi and Lily Fischer sell eye-catching Meri Meri party supplies, including 6-inch birthday candles and party hats.
“Being a bit of a one-stop shop is important,” Ms. Fischer said.
Rebecca Moesinger, chef and owner of 45 Surfside in Nantucket, Mass., pointed out that color is another important thing to get right in the cake business.
“It’s very often that you will get an order for a custom cake where a shade of color is very important to the client,” Ms. Moesinger said. “With thousands of shades, everyone’s description of color is different. They could order a light blue cake but could be disappointed when the shade is baby blue rather than the desired sky blue. Sometimes bakeries will ask clients to bring in an object that has the desired color. The problem with this is now the bakery is responsible for that item whether it’s lost or damaged. Not to mention they need space to store a variety of items labeled and kept for each client.”
Ms. Moesinger has found the best way to avoid these problems is to ask customers to bring in a paint swatch.
“This gives the color they are ordering a specific name and avoids any miscommunication, such as Benjamin Moore Melrose Pink,” she said. “The paint swatch can easily be stapled onto the contract and put away.”