As winter is to comfort food, so is fall and holiday time to baking. During the crisp months, people settle in to make old family favorites, treats for friends or co-workers and pies to adorn the Thanksgiving table.
Adding to Grandma’s pie and the family’s favorite cookies on the table this year, are the products of several new food trends that are taking hold across the U.S., several of which are specifically aimed at baking.
These food trends — including gourmet doughnuts, artisan breads and egg muffins — have combined with the consumer’s desire for a more exotic home entertaining presentation.
According to industry insiders, bread making is on the rise in several markets across the U.S. as both the healthy eating trend and the ease of bread baking have been “Bread baking is becoming really popular here,” said Louisa Edgerton, personnel manager at Bath, ME-based Now You’re Cooking.
“We carry books on it, we have Dutch ovens that people are using to make it. I think people are realizing how easy it is to do it yourself,” she said. Edgerton said that the New York Times’ no-knead recipe, as well as samples made in the store, helped take the intimidation away from would-be bread bakers.
Jill Foucré, owner of Glen Ellyn, IL-based Marcel’s Culinary Experience said that she has also seen growth in customers interested in bread baking, but she attributes that to the healthy eating trend.
“There is a satisfaction of the process, since it generally takes time,” she said. “But, I think it’s also about knowing exactly what is in your food, as a lot of artisan baking is about.”
In addition to bread, the doughnut craze that has taken the U.S. by storm recently is also making its way into the home kitchen. Edgerton said that she has seen an increase in doughnut shops pop up in neighborhoods around the store and has been noticing that doughnut cutters have become popular sellers.
“We were selling a lot of the pans, but now we are selling a lot of the cutters,” she said. “I feel like people are cutting them and frying them because even though baking them is healthier, there is really nothing like a fried doughnut.”
And while there is a resurgence of home bakers looking to dedicate time to the process, there is still the consumer who wants simple elegance without having to spend hours achieving it.
To that, said Leah Daniels, owner of Hill’s Kitchen in Washington, D.C., bundt pans have answered the call. “I am really seeing an uptick in bundt pan sales lately,” she said. “There is no extra decoration involved and people are going for them right now. Part of that is because we live in a city where no one has time, so it comes out of the oven looking beautiful and they can put some powdered sugar on it and go.”
However, she explained that the added versatility of the bundt pan has been a draw for her customers as well, adding to the bump in sales.
“They are making a lot of different things in bundt pans. They are doing cakes, Jello and ice molds in them. People are being really adventurous in what they are making but are more adventurous about the presentation,” she said.
She also noted that muffin pans are continuing to sell well in bakeware as many of her customers make egg bites and other savory treats with them as well.
No matter what customers are looking to purchase, gourmet insiders said that there is a heavy demand from consumers for quality products that are durable.
“From the product standpoint, they want good quality basics,” Foucré said. “They are really looking for things that hold up to heat and repeated use. So, we work closely with our customers so that we can find the right quality pieces for them. Some things are a little more expensive, but it’s worth it.”
Daniels also said that Made in the U.S. resonates so strongly with her customers that she doesn’t stock a lot of pieces made elsewhere.
“I am really not selling any bakeware that isn’t made in the U.S. right now,” she said. “Made in America is always going to be a trend here.” And, while Daniels explained that metal is the primary bakeware material sold in her store, Edgerton said that she has been seeing a rise in silicone bakeware leaving the shelves.
“We have been seeing silicone muffin pans sell more lately, whether it’s the silicone pans or the individual cups,” she said. “People are also buying more of the reusable silicone baking sheets. People are trying to get greener in their kitchens,” she said.