Trends You Knead To Know

Fads come and go, but one thing that will never change is the allure of baked goods. Here are some of the popular baking and pastry trends to watch out for this year.

Indulgent baked goods have always been a popular go-to for both happy occasions and stressful, pick-me-up moments. After a two-year hiatus from normal life, 2022 is turning out to be a year of “big and bold” in the world of baking and confectionery. Power ingredients, unusual pairings, elevated classics and healthier and sustainable options have been spotted on the shelves. So while nothing can ever replace a simple chocolate cake because of the emotional comfort it brings, here are some trends in the baking and pastry industries that are hitting the sweet (and savoury) spot with consumers. They may even provide inspiration for your next baking session or party.


With the global shift towards sustainable nutrition, plant-based foods and healthier alternatives, bakers are producing more innovative, feel-good breads and confectionaries that are good for both people and the environment.

Jane Tan, founder and chef-owner of homegrown artisanal patisserie RÓA says, “We’ve seen an accelerated shift to plant-based diets and better health practices over the past couple of years which work in favour of our plant-based desserts. We make a meaningful difference by selecting clean ingredients, and going plant-based and gluten-free for our cakes and cookies.” RÓA – meaning “to calm” in Icelandic – was founded three years ago to delight chocolate lovers with allergen-friendly, artisanal chocolate cakes and cookies that are free dairy, gluten, nuts, soy and eggs. Tan strongly believes that revolutionising even a simple cake using vegan and sustainable ingredients can both promote healthy living and a better environment. It’s no secret that health is at the top of the agenda for many consumers. Reduced sugar options lead the pack, along with baked goods with high fibre, protein and fruit content. Some examples are nutrient-dense, high-fibre cookies and low GI (glycemic index) breads. “Indulgent treats have to be delicious and worth the calories,” says Joan Wiguna, founder of local cookie brand Chatsworth Cookies. With that in mind, she has created Incredible Cookies (mini chocolate chip cookies) that are 100 percent plant-based, gluten-, nut- and dairy-free. She even offers lactation cookies made with premium organic ingredients that are said to significantly increase the production of breast milk.

WIth the increased preference for healthy holistic lifestyles, bakers are incorporating power ingredients such as extra protein, fibre and vitamins in their goods. Antonio Benites, executive pastry chef at Marina Bay Sands, says, “At Origin + Bloom, we use significantly less butter and cream by focussing on the natural textures of ingredients and incorporating fresh fruits in our pastries and baked treats. Our signature Blueberry mini cake is a classic example. Instead of pastry cream and butter, I use Hawaiian papaya which has a smooth, creamy texture to achieve the perfect consistency of crémeux.” Many of its family-sized loaves incorporate nutritious ingredients or power foods, such as turmeric sunflower seeds, unsweetened roasted walnuts, black and white sesame seeds, and linseeds. “I believe providing healthy choices for people and the planet is the way forward. Pastry chefs must be bold to experiment with alternative ingredients, so as to replicate the flavours of traditional French pastries, which are heavily reliant on butter and eggs. It is challenging, but possible,” says Benites. His European-inspired patisserie also offers a daily selection of housemade gelato and sorbet. The team is currently experimenting with a vegan sorbet rendition of the popular taro gelato, where premium Japanese purple sweet potatoes are used for natural sweetness.


Bakers are bringing spicy and bold twists to their creations, complemented by their respective ethnic flavours. Head pastry chef at Burnt Ends, Basiten Jarry, is no stranger to this. “Singaporeans love their spices, and I enjoy adding them to my baked treats and pastries to create a new dimension of flavours,” he says. He recalls being the executive pastry chef at Pierre Hermé Paris in 2008. Chef Pierre Hermé once challenged him to incorporate the famous Iranian smoked black lemon in a dessert. He eventually created a macaron with it, and the rounds of experimentation made him fall in love with this ingredient, so much so that he specially imports it to Singapore for special events till this day. “Bolder flavours have always been around but it’s about how they are being executed,” he says. “At Burnt Ends, we have always been focussing on smoky and bold flavours. Our Smoked Whisky Dark Chocolate Tart and Smoked Vanilla Ice-Cream are popular examples of our unique and trendy bakes.”

Meanwhile, Benites’ signature Mango dessert has a touch of Sarawak pepper – revealing subtle hints of fruit, cocoa and woodsy spice – to compliment the nam doc mai mango mousse and passion fruit lychee. “Beyond the innovation, incorporating bold flavours creates opportunities to let starred ingredients shine through and tell a story,” says Benites. 


Nostalgic flavours never fail to comfort and satisfy. As a contrast to big “show-off” cakes (think elaborate 3D/ tsunami/hyper-realistic cakes as seen on Instagram and TikTok), chefs have been bringing back old-school favourites but elevating them with elegant twists. For instance, as indulgent as Tiong Bahru Bakery’s original Kouign Amann is, the locally inspired Bakkwa Kouign Amann has been very popular, as is the newly created Salted Egg Yolk-filled Brioche bun. Over at multi-label food and beverage lifestyle hub The Refectory, executive chef Russell Misso infuses local kopi into its desserts. He says,“Elevated classics with nostalgic flavours include the Ti*ra-mis-u where Hoe Bee kopi-o, a traditional Singapore coffee that has been around since 1951, replaces the usual espresso. Whisky is then added into the vanilla ice cream that’s served with it.” 

Likewise, Origin + Bloom has the Insta-worthy Hojicha Bubble Tea dessert and Bak Kwa Croissant. “My favourite reimagined local dessert is the Ondeh Ondeh, a creation to celebrate Singapore’s National Day last year. The exterior is a ball of chocolate wrapped in a bright green - hued pandan kueh coated in grated coconut flakes, while the interior is filled with gula melaka crémeux complemented by silky cream cheese mousseline; a Nyonya treat made using classic French pastry- making techniques,” shares Benites.

Did you know: Back in the 16th and 17th centuries, olives, truffles and artichokes were considered suitable to serve as desserts alongside savoury dishes at royal banquets. It was only in the late 17th century, when sugar became a more common ingredient, that dessert took its place at the end of the meal as a separate sweet course.


Finally, another baking and pastry trend is the blurring of boundaries between sweet and savoury. Renowned pastry chefs are using their experience to work on the savoury side of the kitchen to season their desserts with ingredients that make sense together. Be it herbs, blue cheese or black sesame in ice cream, white balsamic vinegar with toasted coffee beans or cacao nibs, or miso paste in sticky toffee pudding sauce, savoury ingredients are increasingly being added to (sweet) desserts for that element of umami and extra depth of flavour. It’s one of the reasons that led Maira Yeo of Cloudstreet to win the title of Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2022. (Read the full interview on page 12 to find out about the inspiration behind her unorthodox creations.) Green curry ice cream, anyone?