It’s becoming commonplace when discussing sweet goods in the bakery — consumers want to indulge, but they want high-quality products using real ingredients.

And, an important caveat, they don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to get it.

This is the case when it comes to dessert cakes, says Dana Minko, sales and marketing manager for Hometown Foods USA, based in Miami.

“We are seeing that consumers want premium indulgence at a fair price,” she says. “They are looking for items they can bring to a special occasion that has eye appeal but is also affordable and high quality.”

Mrs. Wonderful’s Cakes is the cake division of Hometown Foods, offering bundt cakes — including Triple Chocolate, Zesty Lemon Burst, Strawberry Bliss and Party varieties — as well as crumb bundt cakes and loaf cakes.

“Consumers are finding value in indulgent desserts found in instore bakeries vs. boutique or neighborhood bakeries and they’re still getting the quality they are looking for,” Minko says.

Make your cakes look the part

While consumers are putting more effort into finding quality dessert cakes with quality ingredients, the products in your bakery still have to catch the shopper’s eye.

With packaged cakes, look for product with unique branding and solid packaging. For private label desserts, make sure the aesthetics of the product matches the quality.

“The aesthetic of the product and its packaging is very important,” says Minko. “We differentiate our product with our signature icings and unique eye-catching branded packaging, which certainly helps the product stand out, and helps draw the shopper into the instore bakery instead of just walking by.”

Desserts are often an impulse purchase. Once the consumer tries a good product and tastes the quality, it can end up on their weekly shopping list for years to come.

“By adding innovated items to a retailer’s cake offering, we have seen it as a great way to drive impulse purchasing and incremental sales,” Minko says. “We are seeing trends on hybrid and classic items being brought back to the consumer.”

Pump up the flavor

There is never a bad time to take your finished products up a notch by pumping up the flavor.

The new American palate is framed by an increasingly diverse public that is eager to try new flavors, says Michele Lex, chief marketing officer for The Perfect Purée, Napa, California. The secret ingredient to a well-accepted product line is the ability to stay within the limits of your customers’ comfort zone and yet still push the limits of creativity.

“Flavor is what we’re all about,” says Lex. The Perfect Purée offers more than 30 flavors of purees, concentrates and blends. “Our flavors allow chefs and bakers to incorporate flavors that they couldn’t offer 10 years ago, like pink guava and passion fruit.”

Since 1988, The Perfect Purée has indulged the culinary passions of chefs, mixologists and food enthusiasts with products that provide ultimate fresh fruit flavor without the peeling, dicing and simmering required for making purées from scratch.

The company’s lineup of fruit purées, specialties and blends features 30-plus premium flavors, ranging from pantry staples raspberry, strawberry and banana to the exotic lychee, passion fruit and pink guava. The fruits are harvested at the peak of season, puréed and packed frozen to maintain optimal freshness, flavor and color no matter what the season. All flavors can be frozen for up to 24 months from date of manufacture. When thawed, the purees, concentrates and specialties last 7-10 days in the refrigerator, and blends for 21 days.

Kevin Cecilio, senior director of culinary innovation for the foodservice provider Sodexo in Gaithersburg, Maryland, sees exotic citrus flavors and herbs as trending flavors. Fruit flavors identified include kumquats, pomelos, yuzu, ugli fruit, bergamot and Meyer lemons. Many of the fruits identified are mainly found in specialty retailers, but as access grows demand for such flavors is sure to grow as well.

Bakers and pastry chefs welcome an innovative range of new products designed for them to pump up the flavor of their cakes and other desserts with ease.

PreGel’s revolutionary line of Five Star Chef Pannacrema Pastry Compounds create customized flavor combinations with captivating hues for increased appeal to finished desserts. These top-quality, low-dosage, and highly-concentrated pastes are available in a rich collection of flavors, each boasting an intense taste that is not altered when baked. Five Star Chef Pannacrema Pastry Compounds can be mixed and combined to taste and are great to flavor all pastry products from baked to frozen desserts.

TooFruit from Philibert Savours Inc., Chicago, is a line of dehydrated fruit concentrate in flakes that offers a flavorful addition to cake and bakery recipes, even in a small dose. TooFruit recommends a dosage of 3% to 10% of your mixture, depending on the flavor choice. TooFruit works great as a cake icing.