Pastry trends are already on a roll for 2016 – from the rise and fall of the humble cupcake to the hybrid sweets craze, this year will bring a fresh batch of trends to the fore. To make sure you are armed with all the right ingredients to make your pastry menu a success, Ruth Hinks, UK World Chocolate Master talks to BH about what lies at the heart of the developing a profitable commercial pastry pot.
- Afternoon teas are on the rise
Over the past five years, the UK has witnessed a resurgence in the popularity of afternoon tea. This has in part been driven by economics, with afternoon tea providing a lower cost alternative to Sunday lunch. With the continued nationwide roll-out of corporate coffee chains servicing the daily needs of the mass market, an opportunity exists for boutique hotels to raise the game with an offering that has broad appeal and opens the door to new customers. In my opinion, the key to delivering a WOW afternoon tea lies in the quality of the patisserie and in the table presentation. T he menu should be seasonal incorporating seasonal fruits and provide a gluten-free option.
2. Plated desserts – a twist on the classics
The trend to create modern twists on classic desserts continues. By applying a range of up-to-date plating techniques to traditional dishes, a restaurant can readily demonstrate culinary relevance. Add in a tableside presentation such as flambéing a rum soaked pudding and you’ll be sure to leave your guests with the right impression.
- Chocolate showpiece
If you’re seeking to establish a highly visible demonstration of in-house pastry skills, then a chocolate showpiece is one way of achieving this. Forget about chocolate as an after dinner treat and think more about how your guests would react to an elaborate chocolate showpiece on display in your restaurant or at a wedding. Public interest in chocolate showpieces is likely to be awakened during the BBC series Bake-Off crème de la crème in which contestants will be challenged to create beautiful chocolate sculptures. The skills required to create such showpieces are readily learnt by a competent chef and will demonstrate that your in-house pastry skills are up there with the best.
- Signature dessert
Creating a signature dessert, something which you can become well known for, is a technique employed by chefs the world over. This is particularly relevant for the boutique hotel industry which may not have the resources to deliver a wide ranging dessert menu. By focusing and promoting a signature dessert, chefs will quickly gain the experience needed to deliver excellence time and again. A good recent example of this is the Freakshake created by Patissez in Canberra which quickly became an internet sensation. Whilst perhaps not suitable for fine dining establishments, the overnight popularity of the Freakshake is a lesson to us all.
- Pastry competition
For readers seeking to understand and adopt the very latest pastry trends, I would recommend attending one of the leading pastry chef competitions. The World Chocolate Masters and the Coupe de Monde are the leading international culinary competitions for professional pastry chefs and provide an excellent opportunity for networking. In representing the UK at the World Chocolate Masters in 2013, the UK managed for the first time to secure a top-5 result ahead of France, Belgium and Switzerland. In witnessing the event as a spectator last year, I was impressed at how the industry, skills and creativity on display was constantly evolving and pushing new boundaries.