From indulgent hot chocolates to pumpkin spice lattes, every year the nation eagerly awaits the arrival of the latest ways to get a caffeine fix. Besides being an accompaniment to a traditional croissant, these drinks offer inspiration for bakers. For The Co-op, this resulted in seasonal offerings of Pumpkin Spiced Brownies for Halloween and a Caramel Latte Crown as part of the autumn range, launched six weeks ago. “The Pumpkin Spiced Brownie was off the back of the spiced pumpkin lattes at Starbucks,” she said. “It’s in the shops for longer, more people are drinking it. I knew it was a flavour that consumers would recognise, would understand and want to buy into.” The Crown, meanwhile, follows the success of The Co-op’s 2016 NPD the Mincemeat Danish.Unlike more traditional flavours, such as vanilla and apple, the coffee shop flavours resonate with a younger audience. “A Danish is a young person’s eat, so the caramel latte flavours really appeal to that audience, perhaps more so than the Mincemeat Danish. So far sales have been good.”
“Ancient grains – spelt, sours, rye and kamut, for example – are really important trends in artisanal bakery,” Gilbert explained. “About a year ago we launched a range of sourdoughs, really taking it back to the artisanal routes using just-found ingredients plus some inclusions.” The Irresistible Sliced Seeded Sourdough, Irresistible Sliced White Sourdough and Irresistible Brown Sliced Sourdough are made from a signature sourdough developed for The Co-op. This year a Honey & Honey & Walnut Bloomer and Ancient Grains Bloomer were added.
“We’re starting to look at what other grains and flours we can bring into the range and where the trend might be going, what is most popular and what people recognise and want.”
Why settle for one dessert when you can have the delicious taste of one, in the format of another? The Great British Bake Off has been a key driver of dessert-themed bakes, as the contestants took favourite flavours and applied them to new formats. Past examples include Bakewell choux buns from episode nine to the lemon cheesecake-flavoured cannoli in episode seven and toffee apple cake from episode four. For The Co-op this has recently manifested in the form of Sticky Toffee Teacakes, as shoppers seek familiarity in new products. “You don’t want to scare the customer,” she added. And, taking inspiration from patisserie can really brighten up a fixture. “We want to bring some really bright colour to the fixture and along with that you do get some lovely flavour,” said Gilbert, noting the Irresistible Mango and Yuzu Torte Slices seen this summer. “But you can’t get away from chocolate and caramel because everyone absolutely loves them.”