The spookiest night of the year is fast approaching and bakers are whipping up a host of delightful on-trend treats for the occasion.

There’s a Cadbury Pumpkin Patch Gateau from Premier Foods, spooky Ghost Crumpets at Asda and even a Rainbow Unicorn Halloween Cake by The Hummingbird Bakery.

Notably, there are some trends seen across a number of retailers and bakeries – so here’s what you need to know to be up-to-date this Halloween.

Fright day to fright night

Halloween is no longer the preserve of the evening. Asda, for example, is looking to make breakfast time a little more ghoulish with its Ghost Crumpets. The retailer often revamps its crumpets for seasonal events – Jack-o’-lantern crumpets were last year’s spooky offering.

Afternoon tea is also primed for a spooky makeover, meaning those celebrating can do so in a more sophisticated manner. The London Hilton on Park Lane is offering up a Halloween-themed afternoon tea (pictured above). It comes complete with passion milk chocolate tombstone, pumpkin & chocolate tart and Black Forest log alongside the usual array of scones, tea and fizz.

An adults-only gore-fest

A pumpkin-topped cupcake and ghost-shaped cookies won’t cut it at Halloween parties anymore. As Brits up the ante – although not quite to the level of the Americans – adults are demanding more from the occasion, seeking gory treats. This trend is particularly prevalent in celebration cakes, forming the centre of any Halloween party and grabbing attention on Instagram. 

“Fake gore plays a part,” says Chris Ince, chef director at catering company Angel Hill Food Co. “Any dishes can be given a classic makeover with props, colours and dyes.”

From fake blood to sugar ‘glass shards’ (such as Dawn Foods’ creations pictured above), cakes that look like brains and severed limbs – and even busts of Pennywise from the movie It – mean this Halloween could come with an 18 rating.

Spice things up

As the cold weather draws in, many consumers are reaching for the comforting hit of a pumpkin spice latte. While some may roll their eyes at the thought of the infamous PSL, bakers could do well by tapping into the trend for spiced goods.

This could be by creating pumpkin spiced latte cakes, for example, or incorporating the common spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into existing bakes.

“Seasonal flavours are a great way to offer a product that has a more luxury appearance but is still in keeping with the occasion – for example toffee, apple, pear pumpkin, or spices such as cinnamon,” explains Cristiana Ballarini, category market leader, pastry ingredients, for CSM Bakery Solutions.

Ginger also presents an opportunity, believes Ince, who describes it as “underused at Halloween without a doubt”.

“Whether it’s with apples, pears, carrots or chocolate, candied or just fresh ginger itself is brilliant in a range biscuits and cakes as well as savoury dishes,” Ince adds.

Novelty never goes out of fashion

Premiumisation has a place to play at Halloween as celebrations get bigger, better and more adult every year. However, you cannot underestimate the selling power of novelty items.

“Core products for the occasion include spooky themed cupcakes, biscuits, doughnuts with orange, red, purple and black colours, and themed as ghosts, mummies, witches, pumpkins and monsters,” notes CSM’s Ballarini. “Most consumers celebrating the occasion are families and, therefore, will be looking for food that is fun and exciting.”

Pretzels make great spider legs, for example, while marshmallows can create monster teeth or even ghosts, she adds.

There’s still room for excitement, though, as Jacqui Passmore, marketing manager at Dawn Foods UK and Ireland, notes. “The trend is to play with colour/flavour perceptions such as ‘orange flavoured green sponge’ and to offer cakes in different formats – for example minis, which are ideal for trick-or-treating or sharing at Halloween parties,” she says.

Trick or treat doesn’t have to be sweet

Halloween isn’t all about cupcakes, doughnuts and sweets – there is a part for savoury to play as well. Party food is the obvious place to start by adding extra touches to the likes of pizzas to bring them on theme or by wrapping sausages in pastry to look like mummies.

“Savoury products such as pizzas are popular. As a suggestion, using a tomato topping with ghost-shaped cheese toppings, makes a fun addition to the range,” notes Ballarini.

This is something the retailers have done well in the past with notable examples including Midnight Devil Dogs – hotdogs in black buns – from Tesco, or Morrisons’ super-strong garlic bread, which is said to be 600% stronger than a traditional garlic flatbread.