Although January can be a tough month for many, I’ll admit it’s potentially one of my favourites; and not just because it’s my birthday month.
I’ve always loved a fresh sheet of paper. You know the kind. That crisp white page, unblemished and on the thick side of the pad. Well if you understand than analogy then you’ll know that topping that is a brand-new notepad, and that’s how I feel about the New Year.
And with a New Year brings new trends, in fashion, music and most importantly FOOD, so I’ve been rummaging online to find out whats set to be big in our kitchens this year and here’s a roundup of my favourites.
We’ve seen matcha madness now it’s time for floral flavours to bloom in our food and drink.
Last year we saw this trend in shape of floral decorations and edible flowers as a garnish. In 2018 it’s set to make its way into the heart of food. Think lavender lattes, Elderflower milkshakes, orange blossom icing, hibiscus biscuits, and rose flavoured everything.
I unknowingly got ahead of the trend in 2016 when I made these Lavender and White Chocolate Cupcakes. At an event a Patissier tasted these and complimented the fine balance between the flavours and if that doesn’t sell them as one to try I don’t know what will.
Whether your becoming vegan or simply cutting back on the amount of animal products you consume, the vegan trend has sky rocketed over the last year. Meat Free Monday has become Meat Free Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday, and more bakers are turning to vegan products to bake with.
For me this started a few years ago when my best friend was diagnosed with Ulcrative colitis. One of her key triggers was dairy so she had to completely cut it from her diet. I suddenly had to consider this when baking anything for my friends as I didn’t want her to be sat in the corner munching on a flavourless rice cake, so I tried and tested some dairy free alternatives like Soy Butter and the results were great.
I’m still working on my soy butter repertoire but I’ve made plenty of bakes cutting out butter completely and using oils, avocado or apple sauce instead. If you can tolerate some aspects of dairy then Greek Yoghurt is a perfect alternative, and it also leaves your cakes with a gorgeous velvety texture.
My favourite alternative is Avocado as it’s smooth texture and high fat (good fat) means it can be used in relatively the same way as butter, milk or cream. It’s perfect for frostings, as the base for icecream or smoothies and also great in tart fillings like these Mocha Chocolate Tarts.
With the increased publicity on sugar and what damage it does to our bodies, now more so than ever, the world is looking closely at how much of it they consume. While this could be seen as bad news for us bakers, it’s actually a really great opportunity for us. Ingredients with those good sugars such as dates, banana, honey are an amazing alternative to sugar but equally on the rise for 2018 is the use of Stevia, a sweetener and sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana.
It’s around 200-300 times sweeter than normal sugar and is calorie free which is why it appeals so much to those looking to reduce sugar intake, but lets be honest there is and will always be a market for sugary treats so I don’t think we’ll be packing away our cake tins any time soon.
It makes sense that if the world is looking at healthier alternatives on what goes into their food, then they’re also considering healthier diets too. One consideration is that eating little and often is a better way of consumption, and as a result 41% in the UK have become keen and regular snackers.
When we say snacking, this doesn’t mean items like crisps and chocolate bars. Instead people are opting for foods with high protein and low energy release like these Coconut, Cacao and Quinoa Bars and Date and Peanut Energy Bites.
The high protein, healthy fats and the low energy release keeps you satisfied and fuller for longer meaning you’re not tempted to reach for the crisps and chocolate later on.
So we’ve had vegan diets, healthy snacking, and natural sweeteners. Now it’s on to keeping our guts happy. Is it just me or is there a bit of a trend going on with our health this year?
As somebody who suffers with bloating I’m well on board this Happy Gut train and already well versed in the positives of fermentation for our digestion. Sour Dough bread is my hero when it comes to the dreaded bloat and when I know I have a quite period ahead of me I like to prepare a sour dough starter and bake a loaf every weekend. Paul Hollywood is the king of bread so I always use his book How to Bake when baking any bread, but especially his Sour Dough.
Other fermented foods include:
- Kimchi – a traditional fermented Korean dish that is made with vegetable such as cabbage and adding spices and seasoning.
- Kefi – Fermented milk product that tastes like yoghurt
- Miso – created by fermenting soy beans, barley and brown rice with a fungus called Koji.
- Pickles – Full of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and gut friendly bacteria.
Fermented foods are so great for good digestion because they contain probiotics, whose good bacteria help your body digest, absorb and get better use of the foods we’re eating. If you want to learn more then BBC Good Food had an amazing beginner’s guide to fermented foods so you can try making some for yourself.
With the release of The Unicorn Cookbook, my kitchen spent the majority of 2017 covered in rainbows and fairy dust so the Gothic Food trend is quite literally on opposite end of the spectrum, but one I’m actually rather excited about.
The closest I’ve got to baking with charcoal is burning a pizza and the most gothic bake I can think of in my portfolio is my Dazzling Donuts below. But that really is scraping at the barrel so instead I’ve decided to share some of my charcoal/Gothic food inspiration.