It’s the most wonderful time of year! Britain might be in the middle of a heatwave, but the UK’s biggest retailers are busy gearing up for Christmas.

Many have already unveiled their Christmas ranges, featuring sweet and savoury new bakery products from melt-in-the-middle puddings to flavoured mince pies.

British Baker has been scouring the Christmas in July shows for the latest products and hottest trends to hit bakery this Christmas. Here’s what you need to know:

Wreath-shaped NPD

Wreaths aren’t exactly new – but ones made from meringue, sausage rolls and bread are. Destined for the table not the front door, edible wreaths will appear in a number of retailers this Christmas.

Examples include Aldi’s Specially Selected Tear & Share Bread Wreath with Camembert (right), an Extra Special Pork, Turkey, Apple and Cranberry Sausage Roll Wreath from Asda (centre) and the Pigs in Duvets tear and share wreath from Tesco (left).

Is that a unicorn?

Unicorns continue to blaze through the bakery aisles, so it was only a matter of time before they got a festive makeover. While many retailers insist their character cakes are reindeers, the cute eyelashes and frosted manes suggest the infamous unicorn cakes were the inspiration behind them.

Asda’s Reindeer Cake (left) consists of a chocolate cake covered and filled with chocolate frosting, topped with a mane of smooth caramel buttercream and finished with antlers, a red nose and shimmered chocolate stars. Ruby the Reindeer Cake (£7) is The Co-op’s offering (right), with a smooth iced exterior covering the dome-shaped sponge cake, adorned with kawaii-style eyelashes and antlers.

“It’s targeted at the family shopper, but we tried to elevate the look and give a nod to the unicorn craze,” The Co-op’s cake developer told British Baker.

Tesco, however, declares proudly that its cake is a unicorn. The Festive Unicorn Cake (£10) is a triple-layered chocolate cake filled and covered with chocolate-flavoured cookie crumb frosting adorned with decorations including a candy cane-inspired horn.

An inclusive Christmas

Move over beef wellington, there’s a host of new pastry-wrapped treats in town (and they’re vegan). Enter the Beet Wellington (above) – marinated beetroot with a mushroom duxelle, wrapped in puff pastry from Waitrose – or the Tesco Finest Cauliflower Wellington, an entire cauliflower in turmeric oil with a mushroom and butternut squash duxelle sauce, red wine and spices wrapped in puff pastry.

It is part of the retailer’s inclusive Christmas ranges, featuring more meat-, gluten- and dairy-free products – a goal shared by all of the retailers British Baker visited. “This year we’ve ensured there’s truly something for everyone at the Christmas table,” declared Asda at its Christmas in July event.

Things are getting better for coeliacs, and those avoiding gluten, too. The Co-op, for example, has a range of sweet treats in free-from versions, from mince pies to Christmas cupcakes.

It’s theatre, darling

A barely flaming Christmas pudding won’t cut it any more when it comes to excitement at the dinner table. Consumers want excitement, they want to be wowed. Enter a new generation of desserts, from melt-in-the-middle products with shimmering golden caramel centres to the dramatic Chocolate Golden Crown from Lidl (left). Consumers pour a hot chocolate sauce over the latter to reveal a chocolate mousse, salted caramel sauce and brownie base.

Encasing puds in a shaped chocolate shell is also becoming more popular. Take Iceland’s Luxury White Chocolate and Red Velvet Present (right) – the chocolate shell is cracked open to unveil a vanilla mousse, raspberries, coulis and red velvet brownie base.

All wrapped up

What’s better than Christmas dinner? How about Christmas dinner all wrapped up neatly in pastry? That’s exactly what some retailers are offering.

While it’s unlikely to replace the main event, items such as Aldi’s Christmas Dinner Wellington (above) are ideal for smaller gatherings ahead of the big day. The retailer is even offering vegetarian versions in the form of Specially Selected Wellington Slices in three variants: Brie & Cranberry, Butternut Squash or Cauliflower, Leek & Goats Cheese.

Lidl, meanwhile, has Christmas dinner wrapped up in a Yorkshire pudding packed with turkey, sausages, stuffing and cranberry sauce.