10 sweet bakery trends for cafes

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The world of cookies, muffins, cakes, doughnuts, and other baked sweets allows for almost limitless variation and experimentation. It’s always a delight to see the creativity of bakers and dessert chefs run wild. With so many new ideas, this part of the food industry is never at risk of becoming stale. If you’re looking for some new sweet baked goods to add to your menu this year, this article is for you! Let’s take a look at 10 delicious sweet bakery trends you can leverage in your café menu.

Baker holding oven tray with freshly made croissants decorated with almond flakes

1. Stuffed treats

Typically associated with chocolate fondants and lava cakes, cookies, croissants, and even lamingtons are increasingly being made with molten centres that ooze out when eating. Chocolates, creams, jams, and various other sweet fillings are being stuffed in to give eaters the gooey surprise that has made jam-filled doughnuts and similar treats so popular.

While they can be enjoyed at room temperature, these treats are sometimes served warm so that the stuffing takes on a molten lava effect.

GetStuffedCookies, Tauranga
Marshmellow and caramel stuffed pie from GetStuffedCookies, Tauranga

2. Topped treats

In the same spirit of indulgence and excess as stuffed treats, there’s the trend of adding over the top toppings like macarons, oozing chocolate, or even small pieces of confectionary like Kit Kats and Tim Tams to doughnuts, cookies, muffins, and more.

Adding recognisable confectionery brands to baked goods makes them more noticeable and exciting for your customer to try.

Planet Doughnut, UK
Salted Caramel Fudge Kit Kat doughnut from Planet Doughnut, UK

3. Dessert Flavoured

Familiar flavours from traditional desserts like black forest, cheesecake, panna cotta and tiramisu are being translated into innovative new formats.

Black forest or panna cotta lamingtons, doughnuts filled with lemon cheesecake and coconut crème brûlée, and even Neapolitan cookies are becoming more mainstream in bakery windows.

Doughnut Haus, Auckland
Apple pie doughnut from Doughnut Haus, Auckland

4. Caramels

In terms of flavours, caramel, specifically salted caramel, has become ubiquitous in the world of sweet baked goods, from high-end restaurants to everyday bakeries and cafes. Bakers appreciate caramel for its versatility in flavouring sponges, frostings and glazes. Caramel also works fantastically as a molten centre for cookies, doughnuts and lava cakes.


Salted caramel popcorn doughnuts, banana cakes with caramel centres, and caramel marshmallows have become an increasingly common sight. Caramel is also a popular pouring sauce for pancakes, waffles, and french toast.

Heavenly Sins, Palmerston North
Loaded Caramel Kit Kat Brownie from Heavenly Sins, Palmerston North

5. Childhood nostalgia

Plenty of bakeries have been revisiting childhood memories with fun and frivolous sweet treats like fairy bread, birthday ice cream cakes, and old school branded confectionery.

This trend has also been leveraged in sweet bakery goods, with brownie slabs, cookie pies, and giant doughnuts adorned with childhood treats like 100s and 1000s or even decorated with recognisable characters from shows like Pokemon or The Simpsons.

Salini’s Homemade Sweets, Auckland
KitKat and Ferrero Rocher brownie tower by Salini’s Homemade Sweets, Auckland 

6. Sweet savoury

As the old saying goes, opposites attract, and this is certainly true when it comes to the myriad of handmade sweet savoury creations we’re seeing today. Most sweet savoury options combine fried food like waffle fries or fried chicken with ice creams, chocolate sauces, and syrups.

Common ingredients include peanut butter and jam, dark chocolate, brown butter, miso and even vegemite.

ScrummyScrolls, Wellington
Bacon Maple Scrolls from ScrummyScrolls, Wellington

7. New wave croissants

The croissant, the humble and everlasting baked delight, is now experiencing its own renaissance of innovation. These days, it’s not uncommon to see croissants being elevated with decadent dessert fillings and toppings like cream and meringue and salted caramel or being made with bi-colour striped pastry. Even the croissants’ iconic crescent shape is being altered with cubic and circular varieties. There’s also a wave of hybrids like crioche (croissant baked in brioche tin), cruffin (croissant and muffin), cronut (croissant and doughnut) to sample.

These hybrid varieties are fascinating to consumers, so adding even one to your menu will generate extra sales from customers who are curious to try it out. Common fillings include raspberry, matcha, baklava, caramel pear crumble and black truffle cream.

Volare Bread, Hamilton
Salted Caramel Cream Cronut from Volare Bread, Hamilton

8. Asian influence

Asian flavours are beginning to more widely influence sweet baked goods with ingredients like hojicha, kaya, kalamansi, miso, black sesame, yuzu, and matcha embedded in familiar western-style treats like eclairs doughnuts, muffins, and the various emergent hybrid varieties we’ve mentioned (like cronuts).

Wen & Yen, Auckland
Black Sesame Donut from Wen & Yen, Auckland

9. Elevated scrolls

Like croissants, cinnamon scrolls are another bakery staple being elevated with new toppings and fillings like chai-spice, salted caramel, macadamia and pecans. Also, like the croissants, hybrid versions are being made in the form of scrolls made with brioche dough and scroll cruffins.

There are also plenty of savoury versions with vegemite or cheese sold alongside the sweet scroll. However, despite various additions and alterations, cinnamon remains the key flavour profile, keeping the unique identity of this baked treat.

Cinnamonui, Whanganui
Coffee Walnut Scrolls from Cinnamonui, Whanganui

10. Global doughnuts

While we’ve seen plenty of fun flavours and toppings added to doughnuts in recent years, we’re now seeing more refined versions being crafted to focus on an adult palate.

Hybrid versions using sourdough-brioche doughs and crispy cruller doughnuts made with choux pastry have become more prevalent at bakehouses and cafés. The common theme is more sophisticated flavours like lemon lavender and cardamom cruller, cherry and roasted hazelnut custard, lemon ricotta, and even Earl Grey mixed with rose petals.

The Donut Destination, Christchurch
Passionfruit and White Chocolate Donut from The Donut Destination, Christchurch

What trending sweet bakery treats will you start serving?

The great thing about having so much innovation in the sweet bakery category is the amount of choice you have in what you serve to your customers. Think about who your customers are and what new kind of baked items they’d love to get their hands on.