Sweet, Savory, Decadent, Healthful - All occasion baking with Mani Niall
Every January for the past 37 years, San Francisco plays host to the National Association of Specialty Foods trade show, known as the Fancy Food Show. And every year for about the past 15 I have attended; to try the tastiest new foods on the market, learn the latest ideas, concepts and breakthroughs, eat chocolate, gain insight and inspiration, sample chips dips and snacks, meet and network, graze the cheeses and charcuterie, pass out samples for the food companies I am working with, and, as you might have guessed by now, try everything imaginable, anything edible or drinkable, from all parts of the world. On display and free, yours for the taking.
It’s a rough life.
Fortunately, amid all that snacking and yakking, I gained some new insights, practical tips and techniques. Of course, I am mainly looking at trends that apply to the topic of baking. You can always count on emerging food trends to appear here, and it’s also a good barometer for trends that are here to stay. That is why I was delighted to see my favorite breakfast cereal, granola, is only growing in popularity. Gluten free products continue to make inroads, and the quality of offerings in this category, while mixed in my gourmet opinion, is definitely improving. The third trend I noticed is hard to define - lets call it enhancement. Perhaps a unique spice or accent is added to something familiar to create a new, yet not too far-out flavor combination, such as chilies and chocolate, citrus-laced mayonnaise, butternut squash pasta sauce or honey roasted peanut butter.
You may see these on your shelves soon, they may become best sellers, or they might not make it another month. Only your taste buds will tell.
Super Nutty Granola-
Chatting with a granola maker, I finally learned the secret of chunky granola, full of nutty, snack-able clumps. He makes a syrup of the honey and sugar, then tosses thoroughly with the oats, nuts and seeds, making sure every last surface of every oat and nut is thoroughly coated.
PBJ cookies---gluten free
I find that the most delicious gluten-free baked goods have a little something extra, something to distract your taste buds from the gritty texture that the gluten-free flours impart. Peanut Butter and Jelly do just that, and more. I made these for a friend with a gluten intolerance - no one else even noticed the difference! Also, the addition of 2 tablespoons oil “relaxes” the peanut butter and allows the cookie to spread without the fork imprints most peanut butter cookies require.
Honey Buns with orange cinnamon glaze
Sticky Buns are one of my favorites, but I don’t always have the time or inclination to make yeasted dough and wait around for it to rise. This is my quick bread version of a sticky bun with homage to the Morning Bun, a San Francisco favorite. Adding the enhancements of orange and cardamom to the standard cinnamon kicks this up to a whole new level of yumminess. Cardamom seeds are well worth the effort in seeking out – always grind them yourself in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder for maximum flavor.