From boozy bakes to fresh flowers, here are the cake trends that could steal the show over the next year...

There has been only one cake on Brits’ minds recently – the royal wedding cake.

The understated lemon and elderflower creation (pictured below) was seen by millions across the world. Good job it’s bang on-trend.

“The royal wedding has been a big influence on celebration cakes, adding to the trend of more natural designs and flavours,” says Cristiana Ballarini, a category marketing director at CSM Bakery Solutions.

It spurred numerous, albeit cheaper, copycats that embraced the fresh and fruity flavours – ones that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon as Brits seek “classic cakes with new twists”. Think British favourites like Victoria sponges, lemon drizzle, fruit and carrot cakes.

“Bakers are looking at new ways to re-invent these classics, though, particularly to target younger customers,” believes Jacqui Passmore, marketing manager UK and Ireland at Dawn Foods. 

“It’s all about appealing to the senses. There’s plenty of texture required, but much lighter and fresher tastes and looks – whether that’s replacing jam served with scones with zingy lemon curd, for example, or introducing botanical and fresh citrus flavours to cakes.”

As we move into summer, botanicals are gaining pace. “Botanical and floral decorations are popular for celebration cakes,” adds Ballarini, noting combinations such as blueberry hibiscus, orange blossom vanilla and raspberry lavender. These are drawing in the so-called Instagram generation, traditionally younger consumers, who create and eat eye-catching bakes. Stunning drip cakes, often laden with toppings including macarons, chocolate bars and lollipops, also draw their attention.

Boozy bakes have a similar effect. “A great way to appeal to young adults is to offer cakes with alcoholic notes, inspired by cocktails such as piña colada and mojito, or even a prosecco or gin icing,” says Ballarini.

London-based Konditor & Cook unveiled Passion Fizz (that’s passion fruit and prosecco) and Gin & Tonic cakes as part of its spring range this year, while Sainsbury’s rolled out boozy flavourings in summer 2017 to tap this trend.

From tipples to toppings, indulgence is key, believes Richard Hazeldine, national sales manager at Zeelandia. “The overwhelming driver behind all baked goods is taste,” he says. “This is even more prevalent in the cake category, since cakes are, first and foremost, indulgent treats.”

Adding caramel is an easy way to up the indulgence factor, and Hazeldine notes dulce de leche is building on the growth started by the salted caramel kick.

For others, indulgence means bling, as CSM’s Ballarini explains: “Premium indulgence and extravagance is a big trend for 2018 and, in terms of decoration, gold leaf, mirror glaze cakes and metallic icing will all be popular this year for special occasions.”

Making a splash

Long live the unicorn! The mythical beast has captured the nation’s hearts and isn’t letting go.

The horned celebration cakes with frosted manes are still going strong as big players seek a slice of the action. In 2018 so far, Morrisons has launched its take on a unicorn cake, Asda added free-from unicorn cupcakes to its range and Mr Kipling rolled out Unicorn Slices.

“The unicorn trend is brilliant for the baking industry as it is all about creativity, colour and experimentation – bakers can have fun with it and produce wild designs,” says CSM’s Ballarini.

But unicorns are facing competition from mermaids, rainbows and even dragons, as well as mirror-glazed galaxy cakes that tap into similar themes.

“Excessive colour has taken a back seat in food over the past 10 years, so the nation has embraced the chance to include pinks, purples, blues, greens and plenty of glitter and sparkle in baked goods,” Ballarini adds.