Category Focus : Rising to the occasion of the specialty bread market

The trend for all things artisanal shows no sign of abating, and the popularity of craft bread is definitely ‘on a roll’.

The days of bread baskets being an afterthought are definitely over, as chefs look for innovative new ways to enhance their bread course.

According to the Craft Bakers Association, sales of artisanal bread are expected to increase from £682.5million in 2014 to £780.7million in 2019.

For caterers across all sectors of the industry, having an offering which utilises speciality breads can offer a point of differentiation from the competition.

Says Carine Armel, channel development manager, Délifrance UK: “After years of being ‘out of fashion’, bread is back on the table with the rise of artisanal bakeries.

“However consumers are now looking for a more premium offer, with a quarter of bakery launches bearing a craft-related claim such as artisanal or handmade.

To respond to that demand, breads are becoming more interesting, packed with seeds, inclusions, long fermentation and traditional baking methods.”

What you knead to know

Continental and ethnic breads are trending, and the speciality bread and bakery sector is flourishing as today’s consumers seek more choice, are more adventurous in what they will try and are generally more educated in terms of provenance and quality ingredients.

Increased awareness of allergens, concerns over carbohydrate intake and a backlash against mass produced bread, which can include extra preservatives, additives and sugars, has prompted a desire for artisan, smaller batch bakes

Bread provides the perfect blank canvas to experiment with different flavours such as olive, beetroot, or even Earl Grey tea!

Consumers are also looking to producers who demonstrate clean label ethics, support sustainability and use best quality ingredients.

The popularity of vegan food is also influencing the bread market, says Simon Cannell, MD of Speciality Breads.“You’d have to have been living under a naturally pollinated fruit tree not to have noticed the rise in plant-based diets in recent months and we predict that it’s got a long way to go yet. Fortunately, bread is often a naturally vegan product with the core ingredients being flour, salt, water and yeast. However, it’s essential that if you’re making a vegan claim you can back it up. Fifty-six of our lines have now gained accreditation from the Vegan Society and we intend to have 100 approved vegan lines by the end of February.”

 Tastes and trends 

Sourdough is hot news in bakery right now, says Simon Cannell. “Sourdough is all about flavour and longer fermentation times, which make the bread tastier and easier to digest.” The Mediterranean influence has also seen focaccia come to the forefront. “It’s the perfect carrier and we’re seeing chefs putting hand-pressed burgers into focaccia to create a point of difference,” adds Simon. “Beef brisket goes well in our sun dried tomato and basil focaccia, whilst rosemary focaccia goes beautifully with garlic mushroom or for a premium lamb sandwich.”

Baking from scratch

Baking from scratch is appealing yet it requires time, space and specialist skills, which can over-stretch busy foodservice operators, especially in quick serve situations.

Bake off items perfectly address the criteria required by caterers who want to offer a range of quality, baked goods without going through the labour intensive dough preparation process.

The alluring aroma of freshly baked goods can still be achieved in a fraction of the time and at less cost than if making from scratch. David Jones, sales and marketing director, Pan’Artisan, comments: “As dining occasions have developed into all day and often quick serve scenarios, adaptable products that incorporate current trends are a must-have for busy caterers. A lot of our products can be utilised in various ways; we find inventive chefs love to experiment with our range to produce bespoke goods to meet their own menu needs, this is particularly true of our award-winning dough balls, which really lend themselves to many uses, be that flatbreads, bases, carriers, canapés – the possibilities are endless.”

Bag a baguette

The baguette has improved its share of occasions across breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacking and is now the third most popular savoury bakery item accounting for 3.9% share of visits, making it a must stock speciality bread, says Kate Sykes, marketing manager, Lantmännen Unibake UK.

Lantmännen Unibake’s range of Schulstad Bakery Solutions Rusticata baguettes and rolls are all made with extra virgin olive oil and semolina flour and are stone-baked for a fuller flavour.

A good quality panini and ciabatta also remain a compelling eat for consumers with share of out of home visits up across both sandwich carriers (MCA Eating Out Panel | Bakery & Sandwich Tracker Q2 2018).

Flavoured bakes

Bread provides the perfect blank canvas and offers operators the opportunity to experiment with different flavours.

Sosa has a range of freeze-dried powders and aromas such as beetroot or olive which are perfect for flavouring bread bakes.

“To give them more texture, try adding sesame, pumpkin seeds or part dried fruits and finally to give your bread some colour you can colour it with our powdered cocoa butter colourings,” says brand ambassador Sam Rain

Chai is an emerging flavour that quickly gained popularity and Chai latte brand Drink Me Chai has seen chai take the bakery sector by storm.

Its Superblends range, which harness the power of ingredients packed with health benefits including Turmeric, Beetroot and Raw Cacao, can be used in bakery recipes, such as this Potato & Turmeric Focaccia (below). The full recipe is available at

Feeling flat

Global flatbreads are now part of the mainstream – with pittas, roti, tortillas and paratha all established varieties.  Look out for lesser-known chickpea-based breads coming through, served with a wealth of creative butters, sauces and dips.

Grains of truth

Ancient grains such as spelt are gaining popularity as diners look for healthier baked goods.

Inspired by the rise in interest of traditional baking methods, Pan’Artisan has developed the 100% Spelt Dough Ball, made of flour derived from the ancient whole grain, spelt, which results in a light textured dough that has a nutritious and characteristic, nutty taste.

Kara, meanwhile, has added a sunflower and oat variant to its range of bloomers, which also includes malted, white, multiseeded and sourdough, along with three new thick slice options. The existing recipes have been improved to equip them with a longer shelf life and allow each loaf to maintain softness.

The three new products follow the same redeveloped recipe but come in a thicker slice, giving it a thicker eat for toast, open sandwiches or as a traditional sandwich carrier. The flavours in this range include White, Malted and a brand-new Sunflower and Oat Bloomer.

Andy Bingham head of NPD at Kara’s Sheffield site, commented: “When bread is being used in foodservice a variety of uses are needed for sliced bread, adding the thicker slices can give operators more flexibility with the Kara bloomers. We’re also excited to be adding a new flavour to our range with the Sunflower and Oat; this flavour is packed with seeds and has a hint of honey, an ideal option for breakfast times and is delicious when toasted.”.