Secrets Of The Whole Foods Bakery You'll Wish You Knew Sooner

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Whole Foods has built its reputation by selling organic and natural food products. It's an excellent place for health and environmentally-conscious shoppers with generous budgets to go for their weekly groceries. Along with classic grocery items, you can get bulk ingredients such as grains, beans, spices, and flour. Whole Foods has also proven itself as a good store for anyone with dietary restrictions, such as a gluten intolerance, to get the food they need.

But did you know Whole Foods also has you covered when you're looking for a dessert or the perfect loaf of bread? While you may go to this grocery store to find your favorite organic health foods, there's nothing wrong with swinging by the bakery section to see the beautiful cakes, cookies, and other treats on display. If you have a sweet tooth, it could be the perfect place to treat yourself after getting all the necessities, too.

All told, there's a lot more to the Whole Foods bakery than meets the eye. We've come up with some of the most useful secrets that shoppers should know by the next time they find themselves at this grocery chain's the bakery counter.

Not all the food is made at Whole Foods

Browsing the Whole Foods bakery website, you'll see that it prides itself on the whole ingredients used for goods made by the chain. This may lead you to think that all Whole Foods bakery items are made fresh in-house. However, that is often not the case. One former bakery worker told Reader's Digest that many of the items sold in the bakery are shipped in and reheated to sell to customers. The worker said that some of the bread and the cake frosting were made in-house, but during her time working for Whole Foods, most items were shipped to her Pennsylvania store location.

Some consumers have attempted to take legal action against Whole Foods for this, claiming that bread and other bakery items were unfairly marketed as baked fresh in the store itself, not simply shipped and then reheated. However, in 2015, Judge Joseph Irenas ruled in favor of Whole Foods, saying the lawsuit lacked the specifics needed to move forward with a case. He dismissed the fraud claims.

You can sample almost anything

Whole Foods has a general "try before you buy" policy that means you can sample essentially anything in the store before making your purchase. And we're not just talking about sneaking a couple of grapes before picking a bushel. Instead, this rule applies to all types of food and nearly all sections within the store. All you have to do is politely ask a Whole Foods employee if you can sample something. They'll typically oblige, whether that means opening a container or cutting off a slice of cake for you to nibble on. Sometimes, that score can be even bigger. Speaking to Glamour, one employee said, "For something perishable like yogurt, team members may offer shoppers a free product so they can take it home and try it."

This is great news when it comes to bakery items, where you might be on the fence about buying a whole cake, a loaf of bread, or a box of cookies. Before you commit, try asking the employee at the counter to let you sample whatever tempting baked goods you've been considering. If you're happy, you can then purchase with confidence after sampling the goods. It's an especially great policy for anyone who struggles with decision making.

You have to try the Brown Butter Butterscotch Pretzel Cookies

Any cookie lovers simply must try this Whole Foods favorite. Although it's hard to beat the flavors of a simple chocolate chip cookie, the brown butter butterscotch pretzel cookie on offer at Whole Foods might do just that. As the name makes clear, this treat is made with chocolate butterscotch chips, semisweet chocolate chunks, and crisp pretzel pieces that have been mixed into a brown butter cookie base. The pretzel pieces add a surprising saltiness to the otherwise classic sweet cookies. Brown butter also lends extra flavor, given that it's butter that has been melted and slightly toasted to infuse these treats with a rich, caramel-like flavor. So, it's no wonder these brown butter cookies have become a favorite with Whole Foods shoppers.

On Instagram, WholeFoodsHype got people excited about these cookies when they posted a video of the treats. One commenter said, "literally sprinting to my whole foods tomorrow to try and snag these!!" However, another pointed out that the price may be a bit steep. At $7.50 for a 4-count box of cookies, that might not be worth it to many shoppers, no matter how delicious it is. However, if you're in the mood to splurge on a treat, this might be the Whole Foods item for you.

You can keep the chain's almond croissants in the freezer

Almond croissants are another popular bakery item with many Whole Foods shoppers. The Instagram account WholeFoodsHype claims that the pastries are delicious, writing "The almond filling is great and they're so flaky and delish!" Several Amazon reviewers have agreed, though some complained that their croissants were too dry. It seems to be hit or miss if you love or hate these treats. Just remember that, if you're on the fence, you can always politely ask to sample one of them before you buy it in person at Whole Foods.

But for shoppers who already know that they love almond croissants (and these croissants in particular), there's a big drawback. One of the most frustrating things about this treat is its short shelf life. Any fans of French pastry know that this layered, buttery treat is best enjoyed as fresh as possible. But if you get a whole box at Whole Foods, that may not be an option. Fortunately, reviewers have found that these croissants fare well in the freezer.

To successfully freeze croissants, first closely wrap individual pastries in plastic wrap. Then place them in a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible to stave off freezer burn and keep other ingredient odors from reaching the pastries. When you're ready to defrost the croissants, let them thaw in the bag at room temperature, then reheat for a few minutes in a preheated oven.

You can get a single or family version of tres leches cake

Tres leches is a Mexican dessert with a name that roughly translates to "three milks," a term that sums up this traditional recipe quite well. It's typically made in a large dish with a light sponge cake that is soaked in three different types of milk: evaporated, condensed, and whole milk. Whole Foods' take on this classic dessert has gotten rave reviews on Amazon, with one fan writing, "I have tried several tres leches and this one remains my favorite," and another stating, "This is the best cake I've ever tasted. I could taste the sweet, creamy condensed milk right away and loved the first bite."

Whole Foods makes its tres leches cake with the three traditional varieties of milk as well as coconut oil, soybean oil, starch, and other whole ingredients. If you love this cake as much as most Whole Foods shoppers do, you can get it for any occasion, whether you're looking for something to share or a quick treat to enjoy yourself after a long day. Whole Foods sells its version of tres leches cake as a single serving or in a four-slice container. At select locations, you can even get a party-sized cake tray of this treat if you're feeding a crowd. So, the next time you need a dessert and don't have time to bake, rest easy knowing you can get a classic Mexican pastry at your local Whole Foods.

Vegan bakery items can be hit or miss at Whole Foods

Amidst the many tasty treats that are made from whole ingredients, the Whole Foods bakery boasts an impressive selection of items that have been crafted to meet dietary restrictions, including gluten-free and vegan baked goods. As vegan diets exclude milk, eggs, butter, and other common baking ingredients, it can be hard to come by pastries that meet this. criteria. However, Whole Foods has several options for its plant-based customers.

Some of the plentiful vegan selections include chocolate chip cookies, whole grain brownies, croissants, scones, muffins, and more. While anyone following a vegan diet is sure to be excited by the wide selection, some items get better reviews than others. Some shoppers have complained about dry cake textures and crumbly cookies, for instance. On the other hand, items like the vegan croissant get relatively high reviews.

As with any food, it seems that your enjoyment of Whole Foods bakery vegan options comes down to personal preference. Fortunately, there's a lot to choose from at Whole Foods and samples are abundant, making choices easier.

You can get a vegan chocolate cake

One classic dessert that's hard to come by is a good vegan version of a classic chocolate cake. It's often seriously difficult to replicate the rich, moist texture that you want in the perfect slice of cake if you're working without any dairy products or eggs in the batter. If you're switching to a fully plant-based diet, you may be worried about giving up such indulgences. But Whole Foods has more than one option for any vegan chocolate lovers out there.

First, you can pick up a box of Vegan Chocolate Midnight Cake that's made with oat milk, cocoa powder, oat flour, and plant-based oils. This is a great option for any dark chocolate fans to enjoy for a special occasion. Another vegan option sold at Whole Foods is the bakery's ready-made chocolate mousse cake. This 6-inch cake is too small to share with more than a few people, but it's an excellent option for a date night or a smaller group, especially if anyone is vegan or has other dietary restrictions.

One satisfied customer posted to Abillion to share their experience purchasing a small vegan cake for their birthday celebration, saying "It was absolutely delicious, scrumptious, perfectly moist with a delightful chocolate frosting." Others had similar experiences with Whole Foods chocolate cakes and were excited to get a decadent dessert while still sticking to their vegan diet.

The Whole Food macaron bar is a must-try

Ask a dedicated Whole Foods shopper about those little meringue cookies in the store, and you'll soon learn that this grocery carries an impressive array of macaron flavors for Francophiles to enjoy. Some of the beloved varieties include chocolate, salted caramel, lemon, and blueberry macarons. 

Some of the macarons sold at Whole Foods are not made at a Whole Foods facility. Instead, the cookies are shipped in from Rocq Macarons, the largest macaron manufacturer in the U.S. Macarons are a great option to have shipped in as they aren't typically served fresh anyway. These delightful meringue cookies are served after they've cooled and are best enjoyed a day or so after baking when the flavors have fully developed.

So, shipping in the macarons hasn't damaged Whole Foods' reputation with these cookies. In fact, shoppers seem to love having Rocq macarons available in the bakery section. One dedicated macaron reviewer was pleasantly surprised by just how much she loved the macaron selection at Whole Foods. Whole Foods macarons are also gluten-free, like many other varieties of this treat, so it's an excellent dessert option for anyone keeping a gluten-free diet. However, it's important to note that macarons at Whole Foods do contain other allergens, including tree nuts, dairy, and soy.

You can order custom cakes from Whole Foods

Not only can you pick up premade cakes and other treats at the Whole Foods bakery, but you can also order a special-made cake to go with any occasion. Plenty of popular cakes are sold at Whole Foods, like the chain's Berry Chantilly cake, its take on classic chocolate cake, or seasonal favorites like the lightly spiced carrot cake. You could order any of these for your next party, but when planning a special event, it's always nice to have an extra special cake custom-made to complete the occasion. Whether you're hosting a birthday party, baby shower, graduation party, or another get-together, you can easily go to your local Whole Foods to order a cake made to fit the event perfectly.

To get a custom cake, you'll admittedly need to put in a bit of effort. First, call or go into the store to discuss your specific order preferences. The bakers in your store naturally need to know a few essential details, such as the desired color, size, and flavor of the cake, as well as any specific decorating you want to add to the pastry. Just be sure to contact the bakery at least 48 hours in advance so that the bakers have enough time to get your dessert ready. 

One satisfied customer raved about getting a birthday cake from Whole Foods, saying a helpful employee "suggested layer cake and he was spot on! People loved it!!!!" they wrote on TripAdvisor.

You can order some of your favorite cakes online

Whole Foods makes it super convenient to get the desserts you need for any event you plan. Rather than running into the store on the day of a party to search frantically for what you need, you can relax and reach for your phone instead. That's because you can order Whole Foods dessert online in advance and make your party planning that much easier.

Now, this does come with some caveats You can't currently order a custom cake online, as you need to speak with a bakery employee either on the phone or in person to discuss the specifics of what you want on a custom cake. However, if you want one of the standard cakes that Whole Foods has ready to go, you can simplify your life by ordering that ready-made cake online.

Whole Foods' partnership with Amazon makes this process even more streamlined, as you can order your dessert through your Amazon account and even schedule delivery straight to your front door. Some of the ready-made treats on offer through this service include Whole Foods' wildly popular Berry Chantilly Cake, Chocolate Eruption Cake, strawberry shortcake, and tiramisu. You can also find different size options for most of the cakes and order according to how many people you need to serve, without worrying too much about leftovers. Just keep in mind that the exact cake selection can vary based on seasonal availability and the selection at your local store.

The Whole Foods bakery follows strict ingredient standards

Whole Foods prides itself on providing foods that have been made with organic, whole ingredients. Because of this, the store has banned more than 260 ingredients from its products, including high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, several food dyes, and preservatives. According to the chain, these quality standards are applied across the store, including everything in the bakery section. This means that even those delicious and indulgent cakes, cupcakes, and macarons have to meet Whole Foods' ingredient standards. This means that many health-conscious shoppers can feel more confident in what's on offer at Whole Foods as compared to other grocery store baked goods.

Although shopping organic is great, Whole Foods has met some criticism over the hefty price tag that comes with these ingredients. Joe Dickson, the quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Market, told CNBC that the prices are becoming more manageable. "As the demand for organic foods rises, the supply has become more plentiful and prices are becoming increasingly competitive," he said.