The lines are blurring as traditionally sweet treats, such as muffins, doughnuts and éclairs, are given a savoury makeover… 

Brits’ appetite for a mixture of sweet and savoury flavours has fuelled the explosion in the use of salted caramel and led to salt, herbs, spices and even bacon being added to sweet treats.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Luther burger – one that sees buns replaced with glazed doughnuts (picture right). The calorific invention has even been trialled by KFC in the US.

The lines are blurring further as traditionally sweet baked good formats including doughnuts and éclairs are given savoury makeovers.

These include Maître Choux’s four-strong range of savoury éclairs, which comprise: Double Tomato & Feta, Crunchy Spring Vegetable, Chicken Mayo & Avocado and Smoked Salmon, Yuzu Cream Cheese & Avocado.

“Creativity has no boundaries,” says Joakim Prat, Maître Choux co-founder and CEO. “What I love about choux pastry is that the possibilities in terms of product development are endless – from gougères, a baked savoury choux pastry made of dough mixed with cheese, to our crunchy spring vegetables éclair, filled with a smooth carrot puree flavoured with Earl Grey tea – everything is possible.”

The same can be said of muffins – something Dawn Foods has tapped with its savoury muffin mix.

Puratos, meanwhile, is encouraging bakers to develop savoury patisserie with its Satin Savoury Mix, capable of creating a range of products including cakes, pastries and muffins.

In addition, British Bakels has sought to utilise existing products in its range – such as the Country Oven Mixes and Multimix Cake Concentrate – as the foundation for savoury goods.

“The good news is many bakers who already buy these established ingredients can simply apply a new recipe and deliver a host of savoury patisserie goods,” says Michael Schofield, marketing manager at British Bakels, suggesting a savoury twist on waffles or even mille-feuille.

The latter, Schofield says, could be made with red pesto and cracked black pepper or fashionable creamy avocado and zesty lemon, sandwiched between savoury wafer slices.

Health has a big part to play in the move towards savoury snacks, partly due to the lower sugar content. “Savoury cakes appeal to consumers who are shying away from added sugars, while still offering an element of indulgence – as they are still a cake. Snacks offering this balance between heath and indulgence are proving popular,” says Lydia Baines, digital and communications manager, Puratos.

Many of the savoury bakes also feature vegetable inclusions that add colour, texture and flavour as well as “delivering a wholesome appearance”, according to Schofield.

“Striking vegetable colours and nuts deliver an eye-catching appear-ance and alternative texture. The use of beetroot and carrot can go some way to delivering visual appeal for traditionally sweet goods such as muffins, to compete against their sweet counterparts,” he adds.

What’s more, notes Dawn Foods marketing manager Jacqui Passmore, savoury cakes and muffins are often perceived to be a healthier alternative to other savoury mains and snacks, such as sandwiches and pastries.

This could be good news for the out-of-home market where snacking is in decline – although it remains the largest occasion for bakery.

Food market analysts MCA recorded a 6% fall in snacking occasions featuring a bakery item for the year ending 31 March 2019. One driver of this was a decline in sandwich carriers being purchased as a snack, as was a drop in occasions featuring the top five sweet bakery items – cookies, cake slices, muffins, biscuits and brownies.

Despite this, French bakery specialist Bridor notes a rise in demand for snacks offering flavours such as cheese, ham, mushrooms, olives, herbs, tomato, and even curry.

“Outside pastries, we’ve seen a real interest in savoury snacking rolls,” says Bridor commercial director Erwan Inizan. To tap into this, the supplier extended its B’Break snacking rolls range with a Marinated Tomato & Rosemary roll and a Bacon & Cheese variant.

And it has more NPD in the pipeline. “We’re introducing a pretzel croissant in 2020, which was inspired by our presence in Germany. The recipe combines a thin salted crust with the soft, sweet, milky dough – it’s a nod to the trend for sweet-savoury crossover,” Inizan adds.

It seems the trend for sweet and savoury combinations won’t be going stale any time soon as there is plenty in the works to hit the sweet, or rather savoury, spot.