Many Grocery Store Cakes Aren't Actually Made In-House

Grocery store cakes taste different, and something about enjoying them satisfies other cravings than eating homemade cake does. The artificial, cloying sweetness smacks of eating something illicit yet so delicious. These cakes are also an easy choice because you know what you're getting — and they're reliable. Beyond that, the smell of the bakery aisle is enough to lure people to the shelves to buy something, but that bakery-fresh smell can be misleading. Most grocery store cakes aren't baked in-house.

Depending on the chain, stores receive frozen, baked cakes and frostings. Some chains receive cakes assembled and decorated yet fully frozen. Other chains receive their cakes baked but frozen. According to The Takeout, some Kroger cakes are baked off-site and delivered, while others are baked in-house. From there, cake decorators are hired to turn them into blank frosted canvases or pipe decorations for custom orders. 

Walmart also receives its cakes baked and frozen. According to bakers on the CakeCentral forums, the superstore chain receives its sheet cakes from brands like Pillsbury, and its cake rounds are made by a Dutch-owned bakery in Minnesota called Best Brands. Safeway also receives shipments of frozen cakes, which are decorated on-site.

The outsourced bakery goods trend may be reversing

Grocery store bakeries tend to outsource their cakes because of time constraints versus demand: Baking, cooling, and decorating one cake can be a half-day operation. The other reason is product consistency. For example, if you go to a Walmart in New York today to get a cake and buy one in Texas next week, you'll know what you're getting, both in taste, quality, and appearance. The same goes for other grocery store bakery items like bread and bagels, which come parbaked and are finished in-house.

Some stores are going back to in-house bakeries and relying on the skill of bakers and pastry chefs to supply customers with treats. Baking from scratch is valued by younger shoppers, who are more selective about where a product comes from. Approximately 45% of Millennial grocery shoppers value in-store experiences, per Statista, which means the existing practices for grocery store bakeries could change. 

Similarly, bakers could find more work in grocery stores because of this increased demand for fresh-baked products. The Takeout reported that Tom Vonholt, the in-house baker at Pat's Marketplace on Long Island, makes around 400 cakes a week, all from scratch. The vast majority of shoppers (95%) reportedly buy bakery products once in a while, and more than half purchase something weekly, according to Supermarket News. So go on and buy a delicious, super sweet grocery store sheet cake: You're an adult in today's world, and you need the dopamine hit.