Birthday cakes are the most important part of the party - after all, it’s what people remember even if they can’t recall how old you are, and in this day and age, the part that probably gets photographed the most! The great thing about birthdays are, even if you’re not excited about getting another year older, there’s at least a yum cake to look forward to at the end of the night. Any excuse for cake really.
So not only would you want something that tastes good (make those naughty calories count!) you want it to look impeccable and memorable, y'know for the Instagram - oh the pressure. There are so many styles of birthday cakes to choose from and an overwhelming amount of options, but like most foods there are also popular trends that emerge and re-emerge year after year.
2016 was the year of the drip cake - cakes which have a chocolate glaze dripping over like most of the styles we do actually. I don't think this particular drip cake trend is going away anytime soon as other than its appetising aesthetics, nobody would actually say no to having more chocolate! "Clean-eating" mania was also seeping into cake world through the guise of "sneaky veg" cakes, ie cakes made from courgettes, aubergines, avocados etc (sneaky indeed), gluten-free, sugar-free etc but good cake is messy business, and recent trends are showing me hope that the good people of cake world are going back towards good ol' naughty cake for special occasions.
Here are the top trends for 2017 for Birthday Cakes:
1) Tiered Cakes
More and more people are marking milestone birthdays with sky high "stacked" cakes. The tiered cake is super popular with weddings but now it isn't uncommon to see them at birthdays, so why wait until the wedding for one of these glorious beasts, eh?
For clarification, cake TIERS refer to different sized cakes stacked above each other, whereas cake LAYERS refer to the number of layers within each actual tier - you don't want to muddle up your tiers and layers!
2) Free-From Cakes
Who wants their cake without sugar? Not me. That’s like getting chips without salt! Some people’s dietary restrictions have severe, often serious, consequences, while others are using it as a lifestyle choice or following a fad diet endorsed by insta-celeb-de-jour. Regardless of the motivation, dietary restrictions like gluten-free are here to stay but just because they are free-from something it no longer has to mean TASTE free! At Anges de Sucre we customise some of our cakes, like the MacDaddy or MacDreamy, to be gluten-free by using a combination of almond meal and gluten-free flour to bake the sponges. And did you know, macarons are a popular naturally gluten-free treat? That's having your cake AND eating it, my free-from friend!
3) Drip Cakes
When isn’t chocolate a good idea? While this trend blew up in the last two years, it is still considered relatively "new" and we think it's here to stay. Chocolate drip cakes are essentially cakes which have been covered in buttercream, fully frosted or naked, and then finished with a layer of dripping chocolate, caramel or a creamy, coloured ganache trickling down the sides. It enhances the flavour and texture profile of the cake with a gooey layer, hence I don't think it'll be a trend that will be going away anytime soon. It's madness to say no to MORE chocolate.
Plain ol' sugar paste and fondant covered novelty cakes may be ‘classics’ and won’t offend anyone at a party, but they no longer rule the roost when it comes to birthday cakes. These days those who are calorie conscious are more abundant than ever and so you need to make every calorie count and spending those precious kCals on fondant is a travesty. Buttercream frosting, on the other hand, is universally loved and is also a better option if you are working on a budget that doesn’t allow for the extra cost of fondant modelling. For example, we use fondant sparingly to create the popcorn bucket on our Netflix and Chill cake. Of course, there will always be people looking for a sculpted fondant covered life-size model of their dog in their LV handbag but there is an increasing trend towards people opting to minimise the use of fondant by incorporating small personalised token figurines.
5) OTT or Over The Top
The decree, "More is more!" isn't just for the Kardashians anymore. It's for all of us! Sometimes you just want to lavish in all that is delicious and indulgent. We feast with our eyes before anything else. Not just cake, but a cake with doughnuts, cookies, chocolate bars, macarons, and all the major dessert food groups in one. While the FreakShake is a trend I personally find a bit too vulgar, the FreakCake is somehow borderline acceptable as ultimately you're just having a slice. Portion control, innit.
6) Flavours of the Orient
It’s inarguable that there are great mysteries in the Orient. Some of them involve incredible flavours you won’t find anywhere else. Unusual cult ingredients are becoming very popular these days and usually possess an Asian flair such as matcha, pandan, adzuki and black sesame which can now be found in cakes and are surprisingly delicious!
Matcha and red bean is to Japan as peanut butter and jelly is to America. It’s a widely popular flavour you’ll encounter all over Japan (and the rest of Asia). Beans in a dessert? The idea could be a tad strange, but I assure you, it’s fantastic and worth a punt.
7) Buttercream Flowers
Along with buttercream's resurgence is piped buttercream flowers. Sugar flowers are often cast aside, if not eaten with a wince from the slight sensation of tooth decay. Enter buttercream flowers - beautiful, silken-soft, and delicious as decor. We use buttercream piped flowers on quite a few of our cakes such as the Triple Decker Pink Sweetheart cake, one of our evergreen best-selling birthday cakes!
8) Unicorn Cakes
2017's biggest cake trend brings these magical Unicorn creatures to life in a light-hearted and fun way. Kek & Co created these super cute Unicorn cakes with a fondant horn and cute eyelashes that are totally adorable.
As I am juvenile, I do think the fondant horn trend could risk verging on phallic but I didn't want to miss out on the fun Unicorn Cake action hence we hopped right on to the trend. If you can't have a little giggle whilst baking, you might as well throw in the tea-towel!
9) Croquembouche Cake
Our most outstanding creation, while totally new, has a long history - it was invented by a French pastry chef Antoine Careme in the late 1700s, the classic croquembouche being a tower of cream-filled, choux puff balls piled onto a high pyramid and decorated with caramelized spun sugar. Croquembouche literally translates to “crunch in the mouth.” In addition to spun sugar, the croquembouche can be decorated with icing, chocolate, macarons, sugared almonds or candy ribbons. Our Croquembouche is a modern, much more elaborate, update on the classic - with glazed and filled choux buns and eclairs, baked buttermilk doughnuts, macarons, candied popcorn, ice-cream cones, Ferrero Rochers, piped buttercream flowers, and real sponge cake layers, frosted with Swiss meringue buttercream and glazed in Belgian chocolate.
Also...not to toot our own horn...but our croquembouche created a little dessert storm as it landed the front cover of Time Out Magazine!
10) Birthday Cake Buffet
Everyone wants a Pinterest-worthy birthday party and mums across the world are going all out on indulgent spreads for birthdays. It's a great way to cater for varied tastes by including macarons, brownies, cake pops, cupcakes, marshmallows and cookies, and makes for an eye-catching display where you can go big and bold on any theme.
So if you haven’t gotten the idea as to what to do for your 50th, or your friend’s 30th, or even your kid’s 10th- maybe try something a little different and on-trend… out of the cake-box, as it were. I hope you like some of these ideas as much as we do! View our range of birthday cakes that can be ordered online and delivered throughout London.