Prepared Foods talks cake and dessert trends with Andrew Stoloff, president of Rubicon Bakers, Richmond, Calif. Founded in 1993, Rubicon follows a social mission of “Bake a Better World” and provides work for those transitioning from prison or recovering from substance abuse. Rubicon Bakers scratch bakes, hand finishes and then freezes more than 50 types of cakes, cupcakes, cookies and muffins for national retail distribution.

Prepared Foods: What’s been one of the most interesting new developments in the cake category?

Andrew Stoloff: We see a shift towards nostalgia and making old comforts new again. Our Mom’s Chocolate Layer Cake is a great example of that. It’s right there in the name. It’s rich and chocolatey and has that comforting taste of home. It’s been one of our top sellers and we don’t see it slowing down.

PF: Meanwhile, one of the latest trends involves the shift to vegan offerings and it looks as though Rubicon is active there as well, right?

Stoloff: We see vegan as part of a growing movement and awareness towards healthy and ethical eating that is here to stay. One of our core company values is “delight” and we wanted to manifest that value by bringing decadent treats to people who choose to eat a plant-based diet. 

Once we decided to create vegan products, we spent more than a year in research and development to ensure our new line was wholesome and delicious without compromising on ingredients, flavor, or texture.

PF: What were the biggest challenges and learnings during that process?

Stoloff: We take pride in using all-natural, clean ingredients with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. In a vegan product, that [approach] can limit the available ingredient options tremendously. 

But making a vegan dessert with all-natural ingredients was only half the battle. We also wanted to make it delicious! After extensive research and development, we ended up with a delicious line of cream-filled cupcakes and cakes that just happen to be vegan. Our new line uses straightforward, clean and plant-based ingredients like vegan sugar, chocolate chips, vanilla and Non-GMO expeller-pressed canola oil.

PF: Looking back on 2018, are there one or two new products that you’re particularly proud of?

Stoloff: We were excited this year to launch our line of 4-inch double-layer cakes. With an SRP of $6.99, these 11oz cakes are the perfect size for two to share—or keep all to yourself! 

The line includes our rainbow-sprinkle-covered Birthday Cake, our classic Carrot Cake surrounded with chopped walnuts, our Triple Chocolate Cake made with Ghirardelli chocolate, our Vegan Chocolate Blackout Cake with rich chocolate filling, and our Vegan Vanilla Cake layered with vegan creme filling.

Originally appeared in the November, 2018 issue of Prepared Foods as First Person.