Customising Bakery

Indian bakery industry is considered to be one of the largest sections of the Indian processed food industry. Its main components are biscuits, bread, cakes and cookies. But biting into the same shaped and identical tasting products becomes tedious particularly in this age when the craving is for something new and innovative. The pastry chefs have endeavoured to come up with some contemporary and pioneering ideas in terms of shape, size and ingredients used for bakery products. Thus one now can get bread made f r o m different ingredients and cakes in different shapes, sizes and icings and cookies that are not only made f r o m various ingredients but also stuffed with various kinds of fillings. Ashok Malkani views the innovations that have been incorporated in the baked goods, by various chefs, to keep the interests of the consumers alive.

Craving for something new is becoming a passion – or fascination – for the millenials as well as the elders. This is becoming more predominant in the F&B industry, particularly in the bakery segment. Due to the rising foreign influence and the fluctuating eating habits, innovation in bakery products is contributing significantly to its growth trajectory.

With advanced aspirations of the younger generation for increased socialisation, the demand for more hang-out options is escalating, giving rise to newer formats of bakery cafes which offer not only normal bakery products and chocolates but also offer beverage items. Thus, today, a bakery café provides not only baked food but also has a complementary beverage segment in the menu.

Not only is the format of bakery undergoing a change but, in the present times, if you want to make your bakery a success you must also introduce innovative products, which the bakery chefs have taken up in real earnest. 

Changes Galore

Rahul Shetty, Junior Sous Chef, Bengaluru Marriott Whitefield discloses, “Guests are intrigued by new types, shapes and textures just as much as by the traditional ones. That’s why we see the popularity of new bakery products, which are a combination of well-known classics. Some of the most famously known innovations include: Cruffin (a croissant shaped like a muffin) and the Cronut (a croissant shaped like a doughnut, stuffed with chocolate ganache).

The advent of molecular gastronomy in the Indian bakery industry has changed the way people look and feel about desserts. A simple dessert like the Tiramisu is taking huge turns on how to plate and prepare the dish. By keeping the ingredients same as the original recipe, innovation for us is all about discovering new tastes combinations and textures.”

Vikas Vibhuti, Cluster Executive Pastry Chef, JW Marriott Pune declares, “Innovation is a must! Bakery and confectionery is the glamour quotient of food industry and having said that, we, as chefs and pastry enthusiasts, keep pushing our boundaries to put new and creative elements on the plate without compromising on the quality and taste.  Innovating a new trendy design or thoughtful element as per the occasion or theme is what all the pastry chefs are contributing each day. The new generation is very particular about what they eat and how they eat and to keep them surprised and thrilled our creativity and innovativeness play the trick.”

Rajat Sachdev, Pastry Chef, Sofitel Mumbai BKC reveals, “With an increase in the consumption of comfort food, consumers are willing to pay more for quality products that meet their taste requirements. The bakery industry is one, which constantly evolves with each passing day; bakers are inventing new delicacies to please consumers for all occasions. Rare ingredients are incorporated and indulgent products that retain their freshness and are aesthetical in appearance are gaining popularity. Hotels and restaurants that specialise in desserts and bakery are working towards introducing unique variations in order to keep their menus fresh. 

Consumers are increasingly keen in trying traditional products that have been given an innovative twist, by adding authentic flavours, fruit fillings and more to entice the consumers. Customers can also personalise their pastries, cakes, pancakes and more with an assortment of unique ingredients such as chocolates, jelly beans, attractive toppings and more. Along with products such as mixes, ready-made, part-baked and frozen options, there are spicy-tangy desserts, natural colouring, and healthy items such as grain-baked products that have been introduced to capture the attention of the sweet-tooth audience.”

Alok Singh, Chef De Partie, Crowne Plaza Pune City Centre, adds, “Today the guest looks forward to a lot of new ideas & concepts in food & most importantly in desserts. People are tired of eating the same desserts everywhere and want to move out of the pastry for dessert mode. Innovation in bakery products is more towards eating healthy, low calorie yet mouthwatering desserts, convenient or comfort foods that give you the ultimate pleasure of eating a dish.”

Manjul Myne, Pastry Chef, JW Marriott Chandigarh, says, “Freshness and creativity are intrinsic to create a new and unique experience for food lovers every time they visit an outlet.  We, at Chandigarh Baking Co., thus ensure that we come up with new offerings both for new seasons and occasions. Apart f r o m introducing seasonal offerings, Chandigarh Baking Company celebrates important occasions through innovatively crafted bakery items. We recently launched an entirely new menu of ‘Warm & Cozy’ desserts as an ode to the winters. These warm bakery desserts were served as part of the special ‘Warm & Cozy’ desserts range by CBC which took over as the new comforters during the winter gone by, leapfrogging traditional favourites like Tea, Coffee and Indian desserts and inspired a new trend in the region.

Following are the new innovations and fusion dishes that have been introduced to the menu of Chandigarh Baking Co., JW Marriott Chandigarh: 

Jaggery and Fennel Cake

Jawa Plum Cake

Waffle Pressed Chole Kulcha

Vegan Coconut and Mango Panacotta 

Katcha Aam Granita

Peach and Pistachio Opera

Dark chocolate and Chilly Pastry

Nutty Crunch Kasoori Methi Cookies etc.

Sheriyar Dotivala, The Resort Mumbai, explains “Many retail bakeries are now offering whole-grain and multigrain breads, but flavour continues to be a priority among retail bakery consumers.”

Rajesh Yadav, Sous Chef, Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport, says, “Bakery industry is sweeping the market with its innovative food items. Nowadays, people are becoming health conscious and prefer bakery products which are fat free, digestive and similar.”

Siva Kumar, Pastry Chef, ibis & Novotel Bengaluru Techpark, states, “The new trend in bakery is: making healthy confections and ensuring there are more options for our guests. Our desserts and bakery menu include options which are sugar/gluten free so that guests f r o m all segments can enjoy our delicacies without worrying about unhealthy food consumption.”

Avinash Kumar, Executive Chef, Novotel Imagica Khopoli, declares, “Innovation is the backbone of any business, without this you cannot sustain and grow - “Innovation is the key to success”. Nowadays, a lot of people have become health conscious, hence there is high demand for vegan and super food.”

Neelabh Sahay, Executive Chef, Novotel Kolkata Hotel & Residences, asserts, “Bakery as a market is projected to grow thanks to high-quality products, natural ingredients and new technologies allowing companies to offer goods with improved organoleptic and nutritional characteristics. Today, Innovation is not restricted to product making and garnishing but also production technologies. Several companies are developing new systems for the production of bread and roll products f r o m a dough band and ensuring gentle handling of highly hydrated dough. Industrial dough band formers can process all kinds of dough, even with high water content and long proofing time, obtaining a homogeneous dough band with uniform thickness and width, for the production of bread and rolls with precise weight accuracy.”

Gopal Jha, Executive Chef, Grand Mercure Bangalore, states, “At Grand Mercure Bangalore, we focus to introduce innovative products with each passing day as bakers are inventing new delicacies to please consumers for all occasions. It is important to consume fresh & healthy ingredients as it makes the dishes to taste better. Currently, low fat & gluten free ingredients are trending in the market.”

Waqar Ahmed, Pastry Chef, Hilton Bangalore Embassy Golf Links, affirms, “At Hilton Bangalore Embassy Golf Links, we focus on innovation while delivering quality without compromising on taste. The world of bakery is evolving and we like to innovate new dishes for our guests. This ensures happiness of our regular customers and adds to the attraction of new visitants. At Recess, we are now serving handcrafted breads and cookies with vibrant fruit fillings and toppings which are full of summer flavours. We are also exploring the idea of serving our pastries in mono portions or bite sized portions, so that the individual can experience a variety of desserts.” 

Niklesh Sharma, Founder, Academy of Pastry Arts, agrees that for a bakery to succeed, it is essential for it to introduce new products. He adds, “Running a bakery also means having to compete with other bakeries and a bakery that introduces new kinds of baked foods regularly will be more successful than a bakery that doesn’t introduce new products. Customers also expect innovation and want to be treated to the newest desserts in the world, so it’s essential to introduce new products to keep customers happy. Some new innovations in bakery products have to do with ingredients used in baked foods. Many talented bakers today choose to bake using brown butter. Also many bakeries choose to use natural colours instead of artificial ones. An advantage of using natural colours is they enhance the taste of the food as well as its appearance. Also, baked foods that contain natural colouring are healthier to eat. Another innovation in baking is baked foods with a quirky appearance. Such foods don’t look too good to eat, but actually, tempt people to eat them because of their quirky and fun shape.”

Virendra Rathore, Pastry Sous Chef, Sheraton Hyderabad Hotel Gachobowli states, “The bakery industry is constantly evolving and in order to keep up one has to regularly keep innovating and experimenting. At Sheraton Hyderabad Hotel, we have introduced Ragi bread and Ragi pastries that are layered with dairy-free cream. We have also curated a sugar-free chocolate Ragi pastry for patrons who want to savour sweets without worrying about cheating on their diets. Gluten free cakes, pastries and breads are amongst the signature delicacies at our property.”

Pradeep Rawat, Sous Chef, JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa, asserts, “If one wants to be successful in the bakery industry, he needs to constantly innovate and update his techniques. Baking is a competitive industry today and trends are always evolving in terms of techniques, ingredients and similar. Innovations are the answer to changing customer demands. Currently, we are addressing the requirement for healthy and organic ingredients. Refined flour, saturated fats and even white sugar are finding innovative and healthy substitutes by chefs, in order to give customers what they are looking for customisation is also an upcoming trend that guests look forward to.”

Ashutosh Gairola, Bakery Head Chef, Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel affirms, “Bakery industry is sweeping the market with innovative food items. The fundamental trend that is catching up is the quest to become Gluten-free. Consumers are demanding ‘cleaner’ bakery products. There is also a trend in cakes using chalky pastels unlike the traditional bright colored versions. Innovations and strategies are the key to success. In the present day scenario, the innovations that bakers have come up with are those that have set a trend mark. One such most popular innovation is the introduction of fondant, customised and theme cakes.”

Mahesh Padala, Executive Chef, The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace, lists the new innovations in bakery products:

Using alternatives for sugar, for instance, replacing sugar with fruits in ice cream 
Gluten and allergen free products
Fresh farm produce
Substitute to traditional flour to meet dietary meal requests
Maximising the use of functional ingredients like quinoa, corn, sorgo flour, etc, which improve an unbalanced diet and also helps prevent chronic diseases
Incorporating trendy cooking methods, sous vide cooking style, moist heat to maximize bakery productivity
Variations in packaging
Curating bakery products which have a longer shelf life
Ready-to-eat products with a high nutritional value
Hydroponic produce

Ajay Anand, Director of Culinary, Pullman and Novotel New Delhi Aerocity, declares, “Innovation is an important attribute to gastronomy at Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity. For instance, recently we introduced new, bold and exotic flavours such as oreo gateaux, blueberry & lime, orange crackle cake, walnut and blue cheese. Additionally, we use glaze that gives a shine to our products, making them more appetizing. Further, we have introduced new flavours of bread such as potato focaccia, walnut blue cheese and rye bread.”

K.S.Mahesh, senior executive chef, Radisson Blu Resort Goa Cavelossim Beach, states, “In present times it is very important to be innovative in bakery, keeping in mind a few key factors such as nutritional value of food, procurement of raw produce and the way it can be used. The traditional methods and practices of baking should be well balance with modern techniques to create a final distinctive appearance, textures and mouth feel. There is a wide range of produce available worldwide.

The following are a few of them: 
Single origin chocolates which are procured from the best cocoa producing regions of the world. 
Use of ancient grains such as teff, einkorn, amaranth, millet, Tsampa and many more.
Use of botanicals to give floral notes such as of rose, lavender and hibiscus; alongside savoury flavours from thyme, rosemary and basil.
More and more use of sprits and flavoured liquors to create new impression to one’s palette.
We can call it edible art, creating spectacular products such as potted plants, whole fruits and even a few equipment’s and devices, with a very multi textured mouth feel.”

Cakes & Cookies 
When one talks of innovative products one is left wondering what can be innovative in cakes and cookies. Well the pastry chefs have come up with innovative ideas even for these products.   
Ajay Anand disclosed, “A large sweet producer can innovate in a mature cake market by using new trends prevailing in the bakery industry. The new tools available in the market are stencils, bases, moulds and similar. They can even venture in preparing sugar-free products, gluten-free products and many more. At Cafe Pluck at Pullman New Delhi Aerocity, we are also innovating in cookies gateaux, bread, garnishes, sugar content, chocolate, salt dough, etc.

Mahesh Padala states, “With the innovative trends in bakery, the cake market is putting continuous efforts on designer cakes and dessert cakes based on regional and international market trends and styles. As far as cookies are concerned, with the emerging trends of 2019, chefs have started to innovate cookies with whole wheat, multigrain and gluten free options.” 
Rahul Shetty iterates, “A large cake bakery can innovate by adopting new concepts to make their creations stand out in terms of enhanced freshness, maximum nutrition and authentic flavor in their cakes and cookies.”

Ashutosh Gairola says “Large cake bakeries can innovate by introducing new filling combinations and pairings and having amusing shapes of cakes. In the field of cookies we at Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel have used local indigenous flours like Ragi, which is healthy and lends very a different flavour and texture to the cookies. We also experiment with a range of savoury cookies with diverse savoury elements.”

Vikas Vibhuti states, “In the present scenario, most of the innovation revolves around health benefits, dietary requirements or are occasion based. Few of the innovations we see are:
Dietary or customised breads
Use of Prebiotic, probiotic or antioxidant ingredients
Gluten and allergen-free breads, pastries and cakes
Healthier desserts; low calorie, no carb, keto
Creative Pralines and lollies
Innovative and artistic cupcakes
Popsicles and frozen desserts, trendy designs 
Contrasting or weird flavour combinations
Ornamental donuts with various fillings
Desserts on the go
Innovative designs in terms of celebration cakes

Pradeep Rawat declares, “At JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort and Spa, we are working on the current trends in baking, and promoting wellness through healthy eating habits.  We freshly bake a wide range of healthy cookies using natural and pure ingredients which are uncommon in bakery such as, buttermilk cookies, broken wheat, oats, quinoa, flax seeds etc.” 
Virender Rathore, avers that bakers specialising in cakes are now innovating and improvising by using healthy oils and ingredients to meet the demands of the customers. At Sheraton Hyderabad Hotel, we freshly bake a wide range of healthy cookies using natural ingredients along with innovative healthy treats like ragi bread and pastries, granola and gluten-free bars amongst others.”
Niklesh Sharma is of the opinion that innovation in bakery is not confined merely to cookies. He adds, “We, at Academy of Pastry Arts, teach our students to learn baking and to experiment as well. Such experimentation allows our students to thrive when they work professionally. It allows them to create a unique signature style of baking that differentiates them from their peers. Some innovations we have made include crafting unique cakes for individuals and adopting the use of more holistic ingredients that create less calorie and fat-laden baked foods. We’ve also incorporated new styles of baking that are centred on specified themes.”
Waqar Ahmed believes that cake market can be made innovative by “using nutritious ingredients, no-preservative products, adding natural colours and flavours, avoiding sugar and substituting it with natural sweeteners.”

Gopal Jha claims that nowadays desserts do not mean only cakes. “Desserts like tiramisu, macaroons, and truffles are also consumed. There is an elaborate range of sweets ranging from sorbets, gelatos, candies to Indian milk sweets. Our bakery, at Grand Mercure Bangalore, has a variety of innovative desserts like granita, different flavours of macaroons with different toppings, fruit & cream based desserts, truffles, miniature verrine and more. Therefore, I would like to stress that innovations in bakery is not confined to only cookies or cakes.”
Neelabh Sahay believes that whether it is cakes or cookies, “innovation is the result of dedicated R&D. These days, the major focus is on a gluten-free, vegan and a sugar-free world that is why most chefs or bakers now do their bread-baking with pumpkin seed, ground flax seed, Chia Seed, Psyllium husk and similar. Apart from that making sugar-free cookies and cakes with oatmeals is another new trend.”
Avinash Kumar states that innovation in “cakes and other sweets creates a greater USP in terms of healthy eating as well as making them more kids’ friendly. Innovation is not just confined to cakes and cookies, at Tubbby’s, Novotel Imagica Khopoli, we have innovated vegan banana oatmeal cake, vegan cheese cake, strawberry chia verrines, sugar free pumpkin tiramisu and more.” 
Siva Kumar disclosed, “At ibis & Novotel Bengaluru Techpark we have curated healthy cookies with muesli and chia seed which has rich fiber, protein and calcium. Today everything is about personalisation and customisation. It’s possible to incorporate this in certain cases by knowing the consumer needs such as allergies, dietary requirements and more. Accordingly, customised breads can be curated.”
Rajesh Yadav asserts, “In this competitive market, producers can come up with various innovative and creative ideas for cakes and other bakery products.  Cookies can be of various types. We at Holiday Inn Mumbai have introduced some healthy cookies like whole wheat cookies, low fat cookies, and cookies without using flour, which tastes good and are healthy. You may even make customised biscuits. We also have gluten free bakery products and also some Indian style cookies made of Methi and Mint.” 
Rajat Sachdev states, “The cake market today has grown manifold and a large sweet goods producer must be aware with the ongoing wave of trends in the cake industry. The strength of individual goods producers is their loyal customer base and control over their quality and freshness. They should leverage this strength to expand their goodwill and curate unique delicacies that can compete with the cake giants. Customers want to explore international flavours with authentic fillings and ingredients to satisfy their preferences and curiosity. For example, Japan is one of the frontrunners in cake innovation. Their cakes such as steam cakes, Dora Yaki and Manju cakes, are highly valued around the world and are often bought as souvenir gifts. The Japanese have also perfected the art of cake making with their friendly and amusing shapes, bringing out the playfulness in a novel way. At Sofitel Mumbai BKC, we have demonstrated the idea to customise cakes as per the consumer flavours and likes. This can be seen in the recent produce, wherein we have customised cakes such as the Jack Daniels barrel and the customised Minion cake.

The basic trends in bakery and pastry innovation are related to Health, Pleasure and Convenience. Cookies are a classic favourite, and are being experimented with fun-filled toppings, botanical essences, berry flavoured cookies, gooey cookies, brownie cookies and more. Apart from the taste, innovations are also being made with different textures and shapes to give the good old cookie an edgy twist along with the ingredients according to its reigns such as Flavoured Ciabatta,Rustic Sour Dough, Lavash Bread etc.”

Manjul Myne professes, “There are diverse ways in which a sweet goods producer can introduce an innovative concept in cakes. Given that patrons today want to explore new international flavours especially in bakery and desserts, a sweet-goods producer can innovate and come up with new products based on exotic flavours, pairings and healthier key ingredients in cake-making. A baker can always substitute whole-wheat flour for half or full white flour or use superfood ingredients like Avocado, Greek yoghurt, Flax seeds, Banana, Quinoa, etc. or substitute sugar with natural sweeteners like jaggery and palm sugar. Presentation is another area where the baking industry can progress further. A fancy attractive cake is always an attraction.
In cookies, Rolled Oats Granola Bar is a local favourite at Chandigarh Baking Co, JW Marriott Chandigarh. The exclusive recipe is a healthy mix of flax seeds, rolled oats, sultanas, honey, maple, etc. making it a healthier and attractive option for our patrons. We also have options like the Nut Crunch Cookie, Chickpea and Coriander Seed Savoury Biscotti, Almond Meringue Cookie, etc. which are extremely famous amongst our patrons.”
Alok Singh states, “In a mature cake market larger sweet goods producers would innovate with the developing trends like reducing calories and fat content, using natural flavours, nutritional value ingredients, more of fruit natural resources and local seasonal flavours.
We, at Crowne Plaza Pune City Centre, have innovated in cookies market with our oats & jaggery cookies which are 100% healthy & innovative. They are also our best sellers.”

Customised Bread
Bread is a major product of the bakery industry but today the consumer is no longer satisfied with the regular white bread loaves. They want different ingredients and shapes. Customised bread is their demand.  So how far can the bakers succeed in this?

Manjul Myne avers “The consumers today know exactly what they want, especially, when it comes to their tastes and health. Given the advanced equipment and technology, making customised bread for regular patrons is very much possible and is a trend that is fast picking up these days.”
Alok Singh adds “Bakeries can make customised breads. And they can afford it as most of them have a high volume of the consumption of the breads.”

Sheriyar Dotivala asserts that customised bread is possible but at a special price.
Rajat Sachdev discloses, “Bakeries are introducing the concept where customers can choose their ingredients and add them to the bread of their choice to give it a more personalised touch. Customisation is key to provide consumers with a unique product.”

Rajesh Yadav concedes, “Customised breads are also possible but it requires time. We, at Holiday Inn Mumbai, have made complete whole wheat breads and many more.”
Avinash Kumar says, “If the demand is there then the supply of customised bread would not be a problem.”

Neelabh Sahay claims, “Making customised bread is possible, albeit, within a restricted product line. For this, bakeries need to invest some values for the training and development of the human resource because it requires skills to delivery variety.”

Gopal Jha declares “customisation of breads depends on the demand. Breads can be made with oats, millets, quinoa or buckwheat for a healthy lifestyle.”

Waqar Ahmed disclosed, “At Hilton Bangalore Embassy Golf Links we customise breads in different shapes, sizes and unique ingredients as per the guest request.”

Niklesh Sharma says, “Several bakeries are providing customers the option to customise their breads, by paying a little more.”

Ajay Anand avers, “We at Cafe Pluck at Pullman New Delhi Aerocity have customised bread to cater to guests who are on a gluten-free/sugar-free diet or are allergic to nuts.”

K.S.Mahesh declares, “Customised breads are quite popular with people today as it gives you opportunity to create a unique flavour and keeps the bread interesting. Customisation can be done considering various key factors such as shape, type of flour used, additional of herbs or spices, type of crust etc. This can be achieved only after vast knowledge and baking experience to identify which bread dough would be the best to customise also keeping in mind three key factors of visual appeal, texture and mouth feel.”

Rahul Shetty revealed, “We, at Bengaluru Marriott Whitefield, have many country style artisan breads which we create in our pastry shop including the garlic parmesan, multigrain, sesame and carrot, to name a few. We also make a lot of customised breads in our pastry shop depending on our customer’s requirements.”

Ashutosh Gairola states “Customisation of bread normally involves using flour and grains asked for by the guests. People these days are getting away from gluten; hence many gluten free recipes are there which can be used for making customised breads as per the need of customers.”

Vikas Vibhuti asserts, “Bread customisations are mostly based on health and dietary requirements. Paleo diet bread, Gluten free, Keto bread, high fiber, high protein, super seed breads, low carb loaves are examples of some of the trending bread customisations available today.” 
Pradeep Rawat affirms “The new technologies and the array of ingredients available have made it possible for bakeries to produce customised bread.”

Virender Rathore, iterates “With a 24 hour prior notice, we, at Sheraton Hyderabad Hotel, can customise breads as per our customer’s preference. Prior notice helps in sourcing uncommon ingredients, if any.”
Yes, there are no two opinions about the fact that the bakery is constantly innovating – be it in terms of ingredients, shapes of the products or technology.

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