Valentines for those not feeling the love

Not everyone gets the feel for 14 February, and there’s a chance for bakers to woo a different sort of seasonal shopper.

Romance will be in the air next month – with the run-up to 14 February prompting bakers to fill their shelves with all things pink, heart-shaped and adorable... things a quarter of Brits can’t stand.

That’s according to a recent YouGov poll which found that 25% of the population hates or dislikes Valentine’s Day.

For bakers this means that, in addition to loved-up consumers who want to be buying rose-topped cupcakes for their soulmates, there is a potential revenue stream in the swathe of singletons looking for a somewhat different take on the season.

At the opposite extreme to a sickly sweet message are the anti-Valentine’s ideas offered by businesses including Edinburgh-based Cuckoo’s Bakery, which every year produces a unique cupcake with a tongue-in-cheek slogan (see picture above).

Previous messages have included ‘Love sucks’, ‘Get lost’ and ‘Stupid Cupid’, while the personal favourite of general manager Sophie McVey was a voodoo doll with a knife in its heart. The cupcake flavour changes each year, and they sit at the same £3.50 price point as the bakery’s standard Valentine’s range.

“We wanted to create something a bit fun for those who aren’t so in love, who had recently fallen out of love or were tired of gushy greetings cards and cuddly toys,” explains McVey. 

Macphie seconds this. “Bakes such as doughnuts, love/hate cupcakes and revenge cookies all offer opportunities to create new revenue streams with clear simple messaging,” says Anna Massie, senior category marketing manager at
the supplier.

She adds that anti-Valentine’s messaging such as ‘Swipe left’ is sure to be a hit with a Tinder-savvy anti-Valentine’s consumer, as well as broken hearts aimed at the lovesick and love cynical. “Broken heart cupcake or doughnut toppers are a common theme. Simply create your cupcake or doughnut base, take your heart-shaped cutter and a red fondant icing and create a broken heart using a contrasting colour of icing.” (See recipe above.)

There’s also a rising trend for divorce cakes. “As significant occasions are often marked with cake, divorce cakes are now appearing in bakeries to mark a fresh start at the end of a marriage,” says Massie.

Not every consumer – or supplier – will want to go quite as far as stabbing a voodoo doll through the heart, but there is still a big opportunity for more conservative businesses to offer something a bit different to traditional hearts and flowers.

While research by Mintel forecasts that sales of Valentine’s gifts will continue to rise by 5% each year, it also found that shoppers were unimpressed with current offerings in all retail sectors, with 53% finding Valentine’s gifts dull and unimaginative.

 “Valentine’s Day provides bakers with a window of opportunity regarding sales, and it isn’t just about couples but treating loved ones in general,” says Jacqui Passmore, marketing manager UK&I at Dawn Foods.

Children, friends, family and even pets are welcome to a slice of the Valentine’s pie, and Dawn Foods suggests that with creative use of icing, bakers can have fun with slogans to appeal to all audiences. 

Already preparing to tap this trend is London-based iced biscuit specialist Biscuiteers, which debuted its Fries before Guys biscuit exclusively at Selfridges in 2018, and this year has added it to its core range alongside a tin of pop-art inspired biscuits and a fun lobster variant (see below).

So, whether for a partner or pal, Valentine’s Day provides opportunities everyone can take a bite of.

Broken Heart Mallow Doughnut

Ingredients

  • Premium Doughnut concentrate, 1kg
  • Bread flour, 1kg
  • Yeast, 80g
  • Water, 840g
  • Mallow
  • 5th Avenue White Icing

Method

  1. Use water tempered to give a final dough temperature of 28°C (82°F).
  2. Mixing Time: Conventional Mixer: 10-15 minutes on middle speed/Spiral Mixer: 2 minutes on slow and 8 minutes on fast speed /High Speed Mixer: 2-3 minutes (11 watt hours per kg of dough).
  3. Scale dough pieces at approximately 50g each.
  4. Proof at 38°C (100°F) 75-80% RH for approximately 30-40 minutes.
  5. Fry at ¾ proof. Remove doughnuts from prover 5-10 minutes before frying to allow a dry skin to form.
  6. For a 50g doughnut, fry at 190-195°C (375-385°F) for 90 seconds per side.
  7. Top with mallow and torch with a blow torch then finish with a broken heart, made using 5th Avenue White Icing, coloured red and piped with a chocolate broken heart effect.

Source: Macphie

The look of love: a different take

Cuckoo’s Stupid Cupid anti-Valentine’s cupcake was flavoured with coconut and white chocolate

Biscuiteers’ Fries Before Guys biscuit has joined its core range

The lobster-based pair of vanilla biscuits from Biscuiteers says love in a less conventional way

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