Give classic cakes such as Victoria sponge or Bakewell tart a fresh twist to appeal to a younger audience and tap seasonal trends.

Shakespeare, Elvis, lemon drizzle cake. The classics never go out of fashion, but that’s not to say a modern spin will do them any harm.

Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet movie won multiple awards, while a Junkie XL remix of Elvis’ A Little Less Conversation became a worldwide smash in 2002. As for the humble lemon drizzle cake – and its classic cake cousins such as the Victoria sponge or Battenberg – a twist as simple as a change in size can reignite interest.

“Demand for mini versions of classic cakes shows no sign of abating, with mini loves now taking centre stage, and continuing to do so for quite some time,” says CSM Bakery Solutions’ category market leader Margarethe Schneeweis, adding that classic cakes have been at the forefront of innovation in the industry.

 “Mini versions appeal to all age groups and are perfect for lots of different occasions. They have worked well as they have brought in new customers, as well as appealing to the traditional fans,” she says.

“Accompanying these are cakes on the opposite end of the spectrum – giant loaves of lemon drizzle or Victoria sponge. These are great for parties and are a real talking point among guests. The beauty of classic cakes is that they are so adaptable.”

CSM is also adding classic cake toppings to its ‘freak shakes’ to tap interest in the giant dessert/drink mash-ups.

“The hugely popular, cutting-edge freak shakes now incorporate classic cakes such as Victoria sponge on top.

“Our advice to bakers is to have a range of traditional classic cakes and incorporate any twists and turns into creating new variants of them,” Schneeweis adds.

Dawn Foods advises bakers keep abreast of trends, such as those fuelled by The Great British Bake Off.

“Think of a new twist on Battenberg, trifle, and Bakewell tart – these are great cakes and desserts in themselves and will never go out of fashion,” says Dawn Foods’ UK marketing manager Jacqui Passmore. “By introducing new flavours, formats, sizes and ingredients, bakers can widen their offering and appeal to a new generation of consumers.”

Reinvention of classic cakes has been a focus for Dawn this year through its campaign ‘Creating New Traditions’, which aims to support the generation of new ideas and see established sweet bakery products given a new twist for a younger audience.

Earlier this year, Dawn partnered with University College Birmingham’s bakery faculty, appointing Laura Gibbons, a final-year bakery and patisserie undergraduate, as its first student ambassador.

“Laura has worked with Dawn’s head application chef, Robin Loud, to give established sweet bakery products a new twist,” Passmore explains. This has led to the development of recipes such as the Lemon & Lavender Soak Cake.

“Established bakers cannot afford to be complacent as consumers become more demanding and a generation of bright young bakery students are bursting with ideas.”

Seasonal opportunities also enable firms to develop variants on classic cakes, says CSM. With Halloween and Christmas just around the corner, bakers could introduce cake cones and cake pops filled with classic cake products, suggests the company.

“We work with lots of bakers who produce pops for seasons such as Halloween and Christmas, and cones are great for parties where they really do have a wow factor,” says Schneeweis. “Cake cones are now being used as the base for mini cakes on top, instead of the traditional ice cream.”

Whether scaring up business at Halloween or simply bringing something new to the cake fixture, when it comes to the classics the only limit is your imagination.

Lemon & Lavender Soak Cake Recipe


Crème Cake Mix

Crème cake base – Plain, 1,000g

Lemon fruit concentrate, 112g

Whole egg, 350g

Vegetable oil, 300g

Water, 225g

Lavender Syrup

Edible Cotswold lavender flowers, 3g

Sugar, 200g

Water, 200g

Lavender Glaze

Premium crystal glaze, 300g

Lavender flavouring, 4g


Cake mix

  1. Add all the crème cake ingredients to the mixing bowl fitted with a beater and mix for 1 minute on slow speed and then 3 minutes on medium speed.
  2. Deposit 1,550g into a long loaf tin or 450g into a standard 1lb loaf tin.
  3. Bake in a deck oven at 170°C for 60-70 minutes for long loaves  or 180°C for 45 minutes for 450g loaves.


  1. Add all the lavender syrup ingredients to saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow to boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  2. Allow to cool and infuse for 20 minutes, then strain to remove lavender flowers.
  3. Using a pipette or syringe, start injecting the syrup into the loaf cake from the top, injecting at 2cm apart throughout the length of the cake.
  4. Mix premium crystal glaze and lavender flavouring together and brush over surface of cake.
  5. Allow to dry, then cut and serve.

Source: Dawn Foods. The Lemon & Lavender Soak Cake was created by Dawn student ambassador Laura Gibbons alongside Dawn head application chef Robin Loud.

Exporting British cakes

Chris Ormrod, MD of Ministry of Cake, gives his views on the export market

Exporting is a long-term, slow-burn process – but can pay dividends if you get it right.

If you look at mainland Europe, our flavours and cake profiles are quite heavy in size and appearance compared to their local equivalents. Many European countries won’t eat cake as a dessert as we would.

The key challenge selling abroad for smaller businesses is how to find the right local distributor and sales network – and nothing beats going there in person and meeting people. The reality is that you have to go and visit a number of times so that they understand you are there to build a relationship, not just for a quick sales fix.

On a recent visit to mainland China, I was surprised that their key reason for wanting to buy my product was that they regarded it as ‘safe’, in that the ingredients and manufacturing methodology were all of a European standard, and therefore more trustworthy than local versions. That ranked more highly than any suggestion of ‘Britishness’ or ‘classic’.