KANSAS CITY, MO — With the ground soon to be covered in a blanket of colorful leaves and the weather shifting to a brisk kiss when stepping outside, autumn is settling in.
Pumpkin spice has quickly become the traditional fall flavor and continues to hit seasonal menus in bakeries earlier each year. Customers expect to see a pumpkin spice pastry when entering a bakery, but what about flavor pairings beyond that?
“I can’t stress more to bakers to move beyond pumpkin spice,” said Melissa Trimmer, corporate executive chef and director of the culinary and innovation studio at Dawn Foods. “That doesn’t mean you still can’t have something delicious. If your bakery is known for something pumpkin-flavored, then think about different ways you can use that pumpkin.”
Adding warm spices to baked goods can “spice up” a bakery’s fall menu. Elevating a common fall flavor can add a twist for the customer to experience upon their first bite. Combining pumpkin with chili or apple with herbs like thyme or rosemary, for example, provides customers with new takes on classics, piquing curiosity.
“I use a lot of those traditional fall ingredients as my base, then I go in and lighten it up with other flavors and textures,” said Jules Stoddart, managing partner of Little Ola’s Biscuits in Austin, TX. “I’ll keep a lot of those warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and coriander.”
As the bright summer colors fade out into more rustic tones, how bakers decorate their baked goods in the fall also begins to shift. Social media can serve as a great tool for finding decorating inspiration. Brown becomes an easy default color for bakers to rely on in the fall, yet other crisp colors like burgundy and forest green can catch customers’ attention and beautify display cases.
“I think a lot about the colors that we’re incorporating into the desserts, that way everything isn’t just brown butter, chocolate, apples and pumpkins,” Stoddart said. “I try to figure out how I can brighten those things up but still keep the main ingredients.”
Beginning to prep for fall can be a stressful time. From Halloween to Thanksgiving to the holiday season, baked goods are in high demand during autumn. It is wise for bakers to prep months in advance for fall products and ingredients to ease the transition for their employees.
“The biggest advice I can give to bakers when they begin to schedule for the fall is to plan as far in advance as they can, not only with the menu but also with the schedule,” Trimmer said. “Team members also want to have holidays, too. If your team members can have that schedule far in advance, they will be happier. And when they are happier, they will perform better.”
Fall is also a time that can be unpredictable when it comes to the weather. Learning to work with the weather rather than against it can sometimes be a tricky task. Ingredients that bakers expect from their suppliers don’t always arrive due to unforeseeable events.
“We fill our tarts with whatever the season brings … we also can whatever we can during the summer and use it throughout the fall in our baked goods,” said Shiri Reuveni-Ullrich, founder of Rising Above Bakery in Monsey, NY.
When experimenting with new fall flavors, the first bake is unlikely to be perfect enough to hit the racks. Developing out-of-the-box flavor pairings is all about learning and listening to customers’ feedback.
“When putting a twist on something, the first time you run the recipe, you are not done,” Trimmer said.
Transitioning into the fall season doesn’t happen overnight, and not only can adding new flavor combinations ease the switch from summer to fall, but it also provides customers with the opportunity to step outside of their pumpkin spice comfort zone.