Think Outside of the (Pastry) Box

gooey pastry filling

The Pastry Industry: Sweet Foundations & Savory Fillings

There’s no doubt that today’s consumer is open to experiment with new flavors. More than ever before, companies are turning to exotic new ingredient trends that tend to have a more elevated savory positioning. Whether it’s beverages such as fruit and vegetable infused juices, jalapeño peanut butter, or miso ice cream, it seems that savory is the new sweet.

In a recent Food Trends report by Datassential, trends such as the self-identified “new savory” meant that chefs were beginning to turn traditionally sweet applications into savory concepts. Take for instance doughnuts with spiced curry & peanut icing or blueberry crumb bars with fennel seeds.

Tweaking sweet treats to make them appeal to younger audiences is also a very important reason why this out-of-the-box pastry trend has been so welcoming. With the ever-evolving rise of social media, the internet, television, etc., young consumers have taken to the streets to find yummy eats that help satisfy their cravings for the adventurous and unusual, while at the same time, providing meals in the untraditional form of snacks. Consumers nowadays are more educated regarding their food choices, and companies are more comfortable with putting unfamiliar and exotic ingredients on their packaging.

Perhaps the world isn’t quite ready for a chili cannoli or bonito flake cookies, but today’s bakers and pastry chefs alike are gung ho for twisting classic treats with a savory twist. Blurring the lines between innovative and extreme is easier said than done; i.e., there is a fine line between caramelized onions and caramel coated onions.

First, we have to define the term “savory.” Does it mean umami – a Japanese term that refers to a fifth taste that is “meaty,” as in the meatiness of a tomato or mushroom? Does savory refer to foods that are not sweet, like garlic or celery? The real answer is that savory can be defined as anything. Think of caramelizing sugar. The more the sugar is caramelized the less sweet it actually becomes, therefore caramelized sugar is more savory than sweet. Then, what about carrot cake with its special blend of sugar, spices, and vegetables? At the end of the day, the perfect amount of sweetness and just the right touch of savory notes are what keeps consumers coming back for more.

Consider lemon basil cream with vanilla goat cheese sponge cake or a pickled blueberry jam with a fennel and lemon cake. These ideas may sound odd on the surface, but they are great examples of sweet and savory synergy because many of those flavors share classic pairing notes. For instance, combining an acid with a sweet ingredient not only helps to balance the taste buds but also offers a slight twist that intrigues our palates.

Ultimately, your menu options are meant to make you stand out among the competition and create repeat customers. Out of the box pastry is a great way to do both.