With the Caveman Diet currently popular and insects on the agenda as a future food source, Gerhard Jenne ponders on how the future of baking might look
These next few days are going to be very busy indeed. On the seasonal calendar, we have Mother’s Day, St Patrick’s Day and Easter to play with, and as if this were not enough, we are also going to open a new shop next week too.
Recently I met someone who lives on a Paleo diet, also known as the Caveman Diet. This is where you abandon all processed foods and grains in favour of foods eaten by our very early ancestors. This would mean meat, berries or nuts for breakfast lunch and dinner. It’s based on the idea that, as humans, we have not sufficiently developed enough to process our modern foods and should indeed still do as the Flintstones did. I’m being a bit judgemental here: I’m sure there is a great benefit to eating more lean protein, nuts and multi-coloured vegetables, but would a plantain cake made with cocoa frosting really make a good enough birthday cake?
We also came to discuss the consumption of insects. For a rising number of people, this will be the source of sustainable protein in years to come. Apparently, humans used to eat quite a lot of insects in the past. One reason was that meat or fish was naturally contaminated with bugs, and vegetables and fruit weren’t sprayed with insecticides. I can certainly attest to the latter. You don’t have to go back millions of years either – just the 1960s will do. During my childhood on my parents’ farm, I have bitten into many a plum or apple containing a wiggly maggot and I’m sure the odd one made it down my oesophagus to meet its end in my stomach.
Is the world at large ready for chocolate courgette cupcakes with cricket flour or cricket caramel cheesecake? Perhaps some answers will be given at FutureFest (http://futurefest.org/) in London this coming weekend. It’s an event promising “immersive experiences and radical speakers designed to excite and challenge our perception of the future”. One of the guest speakers will be Food Futurologist Morgaine Gaye, who, together with chocolatier Paul A Young will be creating the ‘Sweet Shop of the Future’. Some of you may have seen a preview on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch featuring no-drip ice cream and chocolates containing freeze-dried ingredients.
I’m wondering how quickly these new ingredients will take off. Earlier future developments for us bakers and cake-makers will come from how food is consumed, how people shop, and how we can get our products to the consumer.
The fact that people have to live in smaller flats has already made a difference to people’s cooking habits. Who has a dinner party these days? The only food consumed at home is served in HD on TV!
For the younger population, if you really want to share food, you meet up over breakfast or dinner in a fast casual café or restaurant, while lunch is bought from a snack wagon or market stall. For bakers, does this mean a move away from big loaves to smaller snack-sized items and breakfast pastries that really pull punches and might indeed contain mealworm flour? Time will tell. Happy experimenting!
For now, though, we are also making the new shop more experiential with tasting events and ‘Meet Gerhard’ dates, where there will be the opportunity to wax lyrical about cake.