Christmas: Let festive bakes take centre stage this year

Christmas is a competitive time, meaning the supermarkets have to go above and beyond to tempt consumers with show-stopping creations. Here’s what’s in store…

The stage is set, the spotlights shining and the crowd waits with bated breath to see which festive bakery creation will take centre stage. Both sweet and savoury showpieces are vying for the chance to drive the festive crowds wild. The right product can make a big impression.

Who can forget, for example, the Waitrose Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding, launched as part of its Heston from Waitrose range some 10 years ago? The pud has proved so popular it has made a comeback in various forms including the smaller and more affordable Hidden Clementine pud (pictured above).

“Christmas is the best time to spoil your family, friends and guests with lavish food, so opting for opulence and pushing the boat out for your festive feast is just one of the many ways to make sure everyone feels special,” says Maddie Munden, product manager for bakery at Asda.

Little wonder, then, that retailers and their suppliers strive to develop memorable centrepieces for their festive product selections.
These have included Lidl’s Chocolate Golden Crown, launched for Christmas 2018. This was a chocolate shell shaped like a Gugelhupf crown, which melted when a hot chocolate sauce was poured over it to reveal a chocolate mousse, salted caramel sauce and brownie base.

Also tempting shoppers last Christmas was Iceland’s Luxury White Chocolate & Red Velvet Present, which comprised a red velvet brownie base, vanilla mousse, raspberries and raspberry coulis, encased in a white chocolate shell.

“A centrepiece could range from a giant decorated winter cupcake, to a more traditional Christmas cake, or a shortbread Christmas tree created from stacked shortbread stars,” suggests Helen Sinclair, market intelligence manager at CSM Bakery Solutions.

“A traditional yule log or sponge cake can also be decorated with stunning decoration to create a festive special.”

Emma Haworth, senior brand manager at Dr Oetker Professional, suggests flipping tradition on its head, or its side, is a great way for bakers to offer something new. “By turning a traditional yule log on its side, you can transform it into a masterpiece cake.

“Create an entire winter forest scene, including chocolate mushrooms and leaves that is completed with chocolate shavings around the side to finish off the tree stump design,” Haworth adds.

In this vein, suppliers have given the roulade a new twist this year.

The Co-op’s festive line-up includes one featuring a spiced salted caramel flavour that is also used to flavour a number of other products in the retailer’s range. Tesco is offering a roulade flavoured with blackcurrant and winter spices, while Asda’s option incorporates the boozy-bake trend with gin and gingerbread.

Fully embracing the centrepiece concept is the Pleesecakes huge Fully Loaded Black Forest cheesecake being sold by Ocado.

“Christmas is a fun and exciting time of year, and we wanted to reflect that in our cheesecake – it tastes great too!” managing director Brendon Parry says.

Waitrose, meanwhile, is rolling out the Bellini Bubble, which is made up of white chocolate mousse with a splash of prosecco over peach compote and vanilla sponge (see above). The retailer has also extended the Heston from Waitrose brand with a Fig & Port Cheese Cake, which comprises a baked sour cream cheesecake with a fig & port caramel centre sitting on a lemon shortbread cheeseboard base.

While clearly a time of indulgence, some festive shoppers will be seeking lighter or smaller bites.

“Consumers are looking for new variations on classics, such as lighter takes on heavily fruited products,” suggests Jacqui Passmore, marketing manager UK and Ireland at Dawn Foods.

Northern retailer Booths believes its mini bites and slices are a stand-out product in its festive bakery ranges, with new variants being launched each year.

“In previous years, some of our most popular products have been the Booths stollen bites and slices, made locally by Bells of Lazonby,” says Keith Parkinson, bakery buyer at the retailer.

Booths has an in-store tasting programme that is led by both colleagues and suppliers. “Given the close relationship we have with our suppliers, we feel it’s important to give them the opportunity to have a presence in store, allowing them to engage directly with the people buying their products,” explains Parkinson.

Showstopping baked creations aren’t limited to sweet treats, of course. Waitrose has unveiled a Pork & Pancetta Christmas Cracker, a giant, cracker-shaped sausage roll filled with British outdoor bred pork, smoky pancetta, cranberries and sage & onion stuffing.

The growing number of consumers reducing their meat consumption are also well catered for with impressive vegetarian and veggie creations.

These include Aldi’s Cauliflower Wellington, which is topped with turmeric, garlic and ginger for an Indian-inspired flavour (see p13). Booths will be selling a feta tart that stands out from the crowd with its bright colours and flavour combination, while Tesco’s butternut mushroom chestnut wreath is an ideal centrepiece for households that want to avoid the ubiquitous turkey.

Whether sweet or savoury, bite-sized or colossal, meat-packed or meat-free, there’s a product likely to have even the toughest audience going wild this Christmas.

1. Golden Twist Sticky Toffee Pudding
Aldi RSP: £5.99, 700g
Golden chocolate sponge with a sticky toffee centre. Toffee sauce to pour over top and decorated with honeycomb pieces.









2. Bellini Bubble

Waitrose, RSP: £13.50, 900g
Inspired by a Bellini cocktail, the dessert comprises light white chocolate mousse with a splash of prosecco over peach compote and vanilla sponge.



3. Cinderhill Festive Wreath

Booths, RSP: £25, 1.8kg
A festive wreath handmade with prime cuts of rare breed pedigree pork covered in puff pastry.






4. Millionaires Shortbread Village

Asda
Part of the Extra Special range, this sweet treat is made up of small bronze and gold dark chocolate houses, with layers of crunchy digestive crumb, chocolate-coated honeycomb, salted caramel sauce, Belgian white chocolate mousse and a milk chocolate ganache.



5. Fully Loaded Cheesecake

Pleesecakes via Ocado
Available at Ocado, this Black Forest cheesecake is topped with plain chocolate and ruby chocolate shards and is made
for sharing.





6. Passion Fruit Sleigh

Tesco
A dessert sleigh made from baked orange cheesecake on a vanilla sponge base and topped with a passion fruit glaze. The cake is then decorated with passion fruit mousse, gold lustred sponge cubes, chocolate triangles, white chocolate snowballs and a duo of chocolate reindeer.

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