The Telltale Signs Of A Bad Bakery, According To Duff Goldman

People visit bakeries more during the holiday season (yes, including Thanksgiving) than at any other time of year. In fact, bakeries do 26% of their business during the last three months of the year and 11% in December alone, according to Dawn Foods. That means you're more likely this time of year than any other to try a new bakery. But how do you know which ones are worth trying and which ones are going to leave you with a white cardboard box full of disappointment?

While you could always check out the best bakeries in every state, they may not all be convenient for you to get to, and besides, it can be fun and exciting to try a new place that's off the beaten path rather than an establishment that everyone lines up to get into. Thankfully, pro pastry chef and Food Network star Duff Goldman recently talked to Insider and gave them a few tips on how to sniff out a bakery worth its salt — and when to close the door on a potential culinary adventure.

Duff's bakery tips

While Duff Goldman says that "You just kind of know[,]" whether a bakery will be good or not, we're inclined to say, that's easy for him to say (per Insider). We'll stick to the facts, please.

Fortunately, the "Ace of Cakes" star has a few more concrete tricks up his sleeve (per IMDB). The first is to observe the cleanliness of the store. Not just the obvious things but pay attention to little details like crumbs in the corner of the baked goods cases.

Conversely, you don't want it to be too clean, specifically, you don't want it to smell of cleaning products. If you walk in and can't smell freshly baked goods but rather smell bleach cleaner instead, consider walking out again, according to Goldman. He says he follows this rule for all food establishments.

Another visual cue to watch for is the quality of the crust, according to Hartford Baking Co. You want to be sure you get a range of colors to ensure a crispy crust, and yes, you want your bread to be pretty. A quality finish is a good indicator of a quality product.

The most complex rule is to watch out for wrinkling in baked goods. It's a sign of staleness, so keep your eyes peeled for wrinkles where they don't belong. According to Goldman, as a cake or bread goes stale, it shrinks as moisture evaporates below the surface, leaving wrinkles on the formerly puffed-out surface. Goldman warns that wrinkles on a panettone are an especially big no-no, but some breads like stollen improve with age (per Preppy Kitchen).