The final contest saw teams from Ohio State University, Purdue University, Kansas State University and University of Wisconsin competing against one another.
Many of the products created by the contestants focused on clean label, on-the-go snacking and regional flavors.
For example, Purdue students created Turkish cardamom cookies targetted at busy Millennials who want a quick snack on the move as each pack contained only two cookies.
“[The cookies] are cardamom-infused with white chocolate, apple jam and crushed salted pistachios,” team member Collin Felten told BakeryandSnacks. “We’re trying to keep something in line with what’s on the market and changing other things up… our flavor profiles are atypical and the nutrition content is healthier.”
The Ohio State University team took a more cautious approach with its bite-sized Gemstone Cake featuring a blend of spices from Indian masala chai and American pumpkin pie.
“We decided to incorporate traditional American flavors because we found [through market research] that consumers are usually afraid of flavors that are very exotic,” said Joshua Song.
Gemstone Cake is also designed to compete against similar products in the sweet baked goods category - such as Hostess’ pumpkin spice Twinkie - with the addition of healthy ingredients like vitamin A.
The winning entry
Kayla Saslow from the University of Wisconsin said the team focussed on sustainability with its entry, Black Forest Sustai-a-Bites.
“We believe the future of bakery and nutrition science lies in sustainability, so we utilized cocoa shells, which is traditionally a waste stream, and added a chocolate flavor. We also freeze-dried the product for that futuristic element, which [also] helped extend shelf life,” she said.
The freeze-drying technology particularly caught the judges’ attention.
“I think it's going to be trendy in the future,” said Joshua Gomes, a R&D associate for Dunkin' Donuts' bakery division.
The University of Wisconsin was awarded the winning trophy, while team members each received a scholarship check for $1,500.
According to the American Society of Baking - organizer of the Baking Tech Conference - next year's competition will focus on flatbreads with health benefits.