When it comes to emerging flavors, “everything” is in, as in the everything bagel. That’s one of the top observations from the 2022 Food Trends Report from The Kroger Co., Cincinnati. And Kroger’s research showed that one of the five basic tastes — umami — is also fueling innovation. Both trends suggest that consumers are seeking out savory flavors, which are the opposite of sugary, fruity profiles. This is not to say that sweet is no longer popular, rather, curious consumers are looking for nontraditional flavors in baked goods and snack foods.

Umami is a pleasant savory taste imparted by the amino acid glutamate and a number of ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in an array of foods including meat, fish, select vegetables (e.g., tomatoes, mushrooms) and certain cheeses, such as Parmesan. Umami is subtle, with most people unable to recognize it on its own. The taste is strongly associated with Asian cuisine and is known to help elevate other ingredients and round out other flavors.

The everything bagel flavor trend likely started when Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s introduced the Everything But the Bagel Potato Chips in 2017, followed by the Everything But the Bagel Seasoning two years later. The mixture typically contains sesame and poppy seeds, along with minced onion, garlic and sea salt. Sometimes cracked pepper and black sesame are included.

For bakers, it’s no longer just for bagels. Whisps, New York, for example, recently introduced Whisps Cheese & Pretzel Bites Everything. Real Parmesan cheese, pretzel pieces and everything seasoning are baked into a bite-sized ball for a grab-and-go snack.

In restaurants and retail bakeries is where the innovation around savory baked goods can be found. The menu at Brite Donuts & Baked Goods, Chicago, changes weekly, and while sweet treats dominate, there’s always at least one savory option. One of its more popular items is an “everything” croissant filled with cream cheese and bacon jam. On the umami front, Brite offers a soft pretzel-like braided bun stuffed with pieces of Vienna Beef kosher hot dogs and topped with poppy seeds, relish, onions, tomatoes, sport peppers and mustard. It’s a pastry spin on the Chicago-style hot dog, which never has ketchup. 

Other savory specialties from Brite include goat cheese maple-glazed pastries, Earl Grey cinnamon buns and harissa croissants. Harissa is a hot chili pepper paste loaded with spices such as garlic, caraway seeds, coriander and cumin.

Michelin Star-rated Kasama, Chicago, features the creations of Genie Kwon, a native of New Orleans with Filipino ancestry. The pastry chef has been experimenting with savory flavors, including a black truffle croissant and Danish topped with ingredients such as serrano ham and raclette, foie gras, salmon confit and cream cheese.

The team at Aya Pastry, Chicago, is known for its corned beef and sauerkraut croissant, kimchi bacon bread and cheesy scallion biscuit. 

At another Chicago bakery, Sugargoat Sweets, chef Stephanie Izard combines sweet and savory flavors in a Cheez-It crunch cake, chocolate french fry pie and spiced pecan brown butter cookies drizzled with soy.

 This article is an excerpt from the June 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Inclusions, click here.