If you want to be on top of the restaurant game, then you have to deliver something unusual, especially when it comes to the finale of a meal – dessert. Half of all American chefs enjoy baking and regularly use cakes, particularly as part of their desserts. Some of the most unusual baking trends this year, can set you apart from the crowd and really inspire your diners to return time and again.


By Kylee Franklin 

Using Insect Flour

Insect flour, generally made from crickets, is high in protein and thoroughly delicious. It has a slightly nutty flavor that compliments fruits beautifully, especially winter varieties like apples, pears and plums. It is made by dry roasting the crickets and then milling them, just as you would do with all purpose flour. It also combines well with dark chocolate, making it a dream ingredient for pastry chefs. Top American chef “The Sioux Chef”, Sean Sherman in particular is a big fan and has developed several cricket recipes for his new cookbook.

Silver Birch Syrup

Silver Birch Syrup is made in the same way as maple syrup – by tapping the trees for the sap and then reducing this down to form a viscous, clear syrup. It is harvested in early spring and is a foragers dream. Unlike maple syrup, it is not sickly sweet. It has a fresh flavor that works well with berries. You can drizzle it directly over a dessert, or it can even be baked into cakes to give a natural and unusual sweetness.

Cooking meringues on a gas stove

Many professional chefs are abandoning the oven completely when it comes to browning Italian meringues, and instead cooking directly on the gas stove flames. This allows you to target the heat directly and gives a wonderful caramelization. It is also a good method for cooking vegetables such as peppers, zucchini and eggplants, if you are incorporating them into cakes. It helps to blacken the skin quickly so that it is easily removed.

Raw cakes

Raw cakes are sweeping the nation because they are easy to create as vegan, dairy-free or gluten-free versions. Classically trained pastry chef Amy Levin is a big ambassador of vegan, raw cakes. The cake itself can be made from a combination of ingredients including coconut oil, maca powder, nuts, buckwheat, fruits flowers and even charcoal. Topped with fresh berries, a raw cake makes an unusual dessert that will surprise and delight diners.

Botanical flavors

Chefs have been cooking with more unusual plant flavors like lavender for a long time, but this year botanicals are proving enormously popular in baking. Think about the kind of tastes that would feature well in a cool glass of summer gin. Juniper, rosemary, basil, pine all work well. These flavors combined into an exquisitely moist cake, or incorporated into cream, icing or ice cream are thoroughly delicious.

Using unusual baking techniques and flavors in your kitchen will help to set you apart from the competition. You can deliver inventive, delicious cakes and desserts that will impress diners with their bravado and inventiveness.