As an authority on cake making for more than a decade, we've seen our fair share of cake trends flourish and flounder. And much like fashion where the dreaded low-waist jeans are making a come-back, we've also seen cake trends boomerang back.
This is one of my favourite articles to research and write. It's all about looking forward to a new year where we get to make new cakes and celebrate newness. 2023 has been a shocker of a year in many ways, and the baking industry hasn't gotten away unscathed either. With UK food inflation rates (source: ONS) seemingly slowing - 10.1% in October 2023, down from 12.2% in September 2023, down from the horrific 45-year high of 19.2% in March 2023, prices were still 30% higher in October 2023 versus two years ago.
This squeeze has affected how we shop, how we eat, and how we bake as a nation. As part of my year-end cake trends article I dive deep into reports and also read around what other people write about the trends they spot in wedding cakes and cakes in general. I'm alarmed at a lot of their so-called findings. "Grand-multi-tiered", "pressed-flowers", "metallic accents". Nonsensical waffle. Tiered cakes have ALWAYS been popular year-in year-out- when couples get married, they generally opt for multi-tiered wedding cakes. Pressed flowers?! No. It's not popular, nobody wants a salad on a cake. If it was, it would be blowing up on TikTok and I have yet to see one viral reel by xyc influencer waxing lyrical about how ObSeSsEd they are with their #gifted pressed flower salad cake. Metallic accents? Oh please. Now we're just writing for the sake of writing something.
Our cake trends 2024 article takes into account consumer spend, our sales data, statistics and customer feedback.
The 2024 List
1. Everything PISTACHIO
My love for pistachio isn't a secret. For years, our Posh Pistachio cake has been one of our best-sellers. But we've seen pistachio take the baking bull by its horns recently and it looks to be heading in strong into 2024 as well. Pistachio cake (our Pistachio Hero Sponge variation is one of my favourites), pistachio gelato, pistachio doughnuts, pistachio cookies, pistachio spread, pistachio lattes - from bougie bakeries to high street coffee chains, everyone is getting on the pistachio train. Five Guys has just announced its new Pistachio Milkshake, and you bet I'll be quaffing one down.
2. Heart-Shaped Lambeth Cakes
Lambeth, or vintage cakes, are cakes with garlands upon garlands of intricately piped royal icing or buttercream. It's not a new trend per-se as they've been around for a while now, but its latest avatar is heart-shaped and tres cute. They're ideal for small intimate weddings and anniversaries, or just because. Piped messages on top give the pretty cake a quirky personal twist.
3. Oil-Based Sponge
This is controversial. On paper, "oil-based sponge" sounds less sexy than "butter-based sponge". But, ever since making the switch years ago to oil-based, our returning customer rate has sky-rocketed as has our positive feedback and review rate. With oil, cakes stay moist for longer and the texture is lighter. I get it though, I used to also be a butter snob - oil is simply not as wholesome-seeming as butter. But with the rise of free-from, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free requirements over recent years, coupled with ballooning costs of butter, oil-based cake recipes are gaining popularity at a rate like never before. Our Hero Sponge recipe is oil-based, and even though we have a free version available on our blog, our download sales including 15 variations are on the up.
4. Reduced Sugar Cakes
With diabetes and obesity on the rise in the UK, more and more people are becoming wary of their food choices and seeking out high-quality, low sugar alternatives. According to the Obesity Health Alliance, British people consume 50% more sugar than recommended. 60% of which comes from just three categories - biscuits, confectionary and desserts, unsurprisingly. The UK Government has started a campaign to tackle obesity by introducing more regulations around high in fat, sugar and salt ("HFSS") foods but it is not going to result in us choosing a banana over a biscuit anytime soon.
As humans, when we are happy, we celebrate with sweet - wedding cakes and birthday cakes are never going to be replaced by bowls of carrot batons. When we are sad, we lift ourselves up with sweet too - you would never turn up to your just-dumped friend's flat with a packet of raisins. You’re going with a pint of ice cream and chocolates. But despite that, we are still looking for ways to mitigate our sugar consumption.
Since the very beginning of our bakery in 2011 we have used our Swiss meringue buttercream recipe exclusively for filling and covering our cakes. It contains at least, if not lesser than 50% sugar than the standard frosting used by mainstream bakeries, supermarkets and the likes. We were the only professional bakery using SMBC and supplying department stores like Selfridges and cafes. Now, more and more bakeries are following suit which shows how tastes are changing. From bigger chains like Patisserie Valerie to independents like #cakegate’s very own Three Little Birds Bakery, they’re on the SMBC. Less sugar, more flavour, please. We're done with crusty sugary frosting.
5. Stylish Cake Hybrids
Dessert mash-ups are all the rage. I'm not talking about patisserie portmanteaus like the has-been cronuts. Those have been and gone but paved the way for something much better. With the cost-of-living crisis combined with our need to make our calories count harder, we want more bang for our bakery buck. More texture, more flavour, more style. According to a global poll, five years ago, 54% of consumers agreed that food that looks good, tastes good, but in 2023 it's gone up to 64%. We want what we eat to have style AND substance. Bread Ahead's viral creme brulee doughnut, British Patagonia's croissant ice cream cones, Mamasons toasted ice cream bilogs - these are all popular for very good reasons. They are photogenic, "instagrammy/TikTokky" and delicious, not just gimmicks. Our cake sandwiches saw viral success for the same reasons.
What could the next hot cake hybrid be? Warm cake ice cream toasties? Cake and butter pudding? Cake French toast? Battered cake fritters?? Cake dough beignets? I'll be giving them all a go.
Which cake trend are you most on board with? If you've spotted any, wherever you are in the world, drop them in the comments!