“You always find a swirling beehive of
authentic baking happening in our
Pat’s quick and
first warehouse club in the industry to have
on-site, seven-days-a week, hands-on bakeries, and I am glad the tradition continues.
The Costco baking day begins each morning at 5 a.m. The first order of business is pies,
then croissants, Danish, rolls and so forth.
Cookies are baked last. Thirty minutes before
the warehouse opens, hot breads pop out of
the oven. (Mmmm.)
All baked goods taste as good as homemade because they are created by genuine
Costco bakers for Costco members only. Many
products are made from scratch: cheesecakes,
dinner rolls, pecan pies, filling, icings, the new
chocolate bark, to name just a few.
No baked products are purchased, except
for the parbaked Kirkland Signature artisan
breads. “In order to get that great flavor and
chewy crust, we feel the breads must be
baked in hearth ovens,” Sue explains. “As you
can imagine, these ovens are way too big
to fit in our kitchens. We do, however, perform the last 20 minutes of baking and final
I’m pleased to hear that the bakers purchase bakery ingredients, such as butter, oil,
white flour, sugars and Kirkland Signature
pecans and walnuts, right off the warehouse
shelves, just like us.
Fresh and genuine ingredients are key
to the program’s success. For example, the
Kirkland Signature strawberry cheesecake is
made with real, not imitation, sour cream,
Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, whole eggs
and milk, and strawberries.
Here’s some more good news: Costco’s
shortening supplier has developed a 100 percent soybean non-hydrogenated, trans-fat-free oil. So, item by item, the Costco bakery
department is reformulating recipes and
removing hydrogenated oils when possible.
This includes pie dough, dinner rolls, muffins
and sweet loaves (pound, banana and walnut).
Heart-healthy whole-wheat flours are also
incorporated wherever possible.
Cost savings are exceptional. First of all,
bakery items listed as Kirkland Signature
show at least a 20 percent savings over comparable brands of similar quality. I did a little
checking and found even greater values. For
example, Costco’s blueberry muffins are 50
cents each, whereas one grocery chain sells a
similar size at $1.62 each. And get this: Costco’s
pumpkin pie is $1.65 per pound versus
another retailer’s pie at $5.94 per pound.
Time savings are another essential consideration. It takes very little time and effort
to drive to Costco and pick up a gorgeous 70-
ounce, $9.99 Kirkland Signature pecan pie
versus locating a good recipe, shopping and
making a pecan pie at home. (I did the math:
The homemade pie would take several hours
and cost about $25 in supplies.)
I’m also impressed with Costco’s short
“sell by” dates. This means fresher baked
goods every day, compared to other in-house
bakeries. For example, Kirkland Signature
artisan bread is on the shelf for just one day.
Any leftover bread—if there is any (and this is
a big if)—is donated to food banks.
Food aficionados are starting to take
notice. Last year, Saveur magazine voted
Costco’s classic sheet cake number 25 in their
100 Top Food Things. (I vote it No. 1 in taste.)
Jean-Yves isn’t at all surprised. “We allocate
the resources of time, training, quality ingredients and the attention to detail needed,” he
says. “Our competitors try to copy us, and it is
very flattering, but they just don’t get it. Their
priority is penny-pinching—ours is quality.”
(Half-sheet seasonal cakes decorated for
Hanukkah or Christmas and cinnamon butter coffeecakes for family holiday breakfasts
are available now.)
Jean-Yves ends our conversation with a
noteworthy baking creed: “In baking you have
to do it right the first time. You don’t get a
second chance.” C
Our bakery vs.
Half sheet cakes
HERE’S A HASSLE-FREE party spread
that serves 30 and costs just $5 per per-
son. Set your table with one of each of the
following Costco Kirkland Signature bak-
ery products. (These are available start-
ing November 23 while supplies last.)
However, if peace and harmony are
what you are seeking, splurge and buy
7 Assorted Chocolates, 40 pieces, $19.99
7 Belgian truffles plus Costco hand-
made bark in white chocolate with
crushed peppermint candy canes and
dark chocolate with fruit and nuts.
Pat’s tip: Divide into four portions
and created instant hostess gifts at
just $5.00 each.
7 Apple Cranberry Tartlets and
Macadamia Nut Tartlets, four, $16.99.
Latticed almond cream (apple cranberry) and hand-topped fudge icing
(macadamia) finish the tops.
7 Holiday Cookies Tray, five varieties,
70 total, $16.99. Real raspberry
rugalach, traditional shortbreads
loaded with cashews, cookies with
chocolate and cranberry chunks,
moist coconut mint macaroons and
traditional spice cookies—and no
7 Strawberry cheesecake, 90 ounces,
$13.99. Pat’s tip: Serve with hot fudge
sauce for a decadent dessert.
7 Hand-blended Traditional Fruitcake,
56 ounces, $12.99. Chock-full of walnut halves and whole cherries.
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