We got 220 nominations and visited 45 bakeries on our search for Michigan’s Best, and it all bakes down to Crust in Fenton.
The bakery was declared Michigan’s Best by our team of Amy Sherman and John Gonzalez after weeks of research. We won’t lie, we have the sweetest job in the world.
For best bakery, we were looking for places that bake a variety of items, and bake them with care, excellent technique, and high-quality ingredients. We wanted a true bakery, not purely a doughnut shop, although many of our top picks made excellent doughnuts as well.
Crust truly rose to the top, with an incredible baking facility, putting out absolutely amazing baked goods.
We surprised Crust with the announcement that they were the best in the state on Thursday March 1. Working with the fantastic Shelly Day from the Fenton/Linden area Chamber of Commerce, we came up with a plan to have all the owners of Crust on site that morning.
Shelly explained that they would be receiving a special customer service award, which they actually would be very deserving of. Instead they got the surprise of their lives.
Check out our surprise reveal in the video below.
Mike is the one seen jumping up and down in our surprise reveal video. He was super excited to have been announced the winner. Crust owners are pictured from left to right: Chad Brennan, Mark Hamel and Mike Green. Mike is the one seen jumping up and down in our surprise reveal video. He was super excited to have been announced the winner.
“Oh my gosh you surprised us. I was checking the site, and kept telling myself we are not getting this award. But then there was this little voice saying these are all the reasons why we should get it,” he said.
“Everyone from the bakers, to the guys in the dish tank, everyone was so invested in this,” marketing manager Holly Nachtigal explained. “The things that the staff did in anticipation and preparation for your visit, wanting everything to be it’s most beautiful, they are the ones that do it. They are the ones that make this happen every single day.
They now offer a full restaurant on site, using their baked goods in entrees for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Start your morning off with a breakfast sandwich with eggs and bacon on a freshly made biscuit, or the breakfast bruschetta with sautéed spinach, prosciutto, Roma tomatoes, two poached eggs and stone-ground mustard hollandaise on a slice of sourdough.
After 4, you can enjoy items like freshly made pastas, crisp salads, and creative pizzas.
A full bar is available as well, as is a gelato bar. Yet even with all these extras, “Crust is still a bakery first and foremost, using traditional, authentic small batch recipes,” Chad said.
They have a pretty high production level since they supply about 55 wholesale accounts, several farmers markets and the bakery in Fenton. You might think that they would have brought in automation to their process. Nope. They still hand roll every loaf of bread and allow them to naturally rise.
Every pie is filled with over 2 pounds of fruit, crimped and shaped by hand. The talented staff here bakes 22 hours a day, and the ovens never go off. So even while they create a huge variety and amount of baked goods, each and every one has truly been handmade just for you.
The sheer volume of products available is kind of staggering.
About 10 different kinds of bread are baked fresh every day. Stacks and stacks of cookies are ready and waiting, including their popular sea salt chocolate chip. Classic French pastries like croissants (and please be sure to try both the almond and the spinach) and pain aux raisins are top notch.
They’ve got a melange of muffins and scones, we were particularly taken with the Blueberry Buckle which was chock full of fruit.
Doughnuts here are huge, and delicious. We loved the classic sour cream, with it’s crunchy nooks and crannies. Untraditional offerings of chocolate covered brioche and a killer peanut butter and jelly doughnut make it very, very hard to order just one.
Soak in the greatness that resides in the pastry case at Crust.
Delectable celebration cakes like The Hummingbird, a fruity nutty bomb of a cake featuring bananas, pineapple, toasted walnuts, cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut should be bought for no reason other than it’s delicious.
We love that they make their own version of that favorite Michigan chocolate cake originally created by Sander’s, the Bumpy Cake. Here it gets a double layer of sweet cream frosting on top of rich chocolate cake before it gets covered in chocolate.
If you are visiting Crust for a meal, you can enjoy a glass of wine, craft beer or a handmade cocktail from the bar.
The small, but well curated list has a little something for everyone on it. Original cocktails are creative and unique. We’d like to get back to try the Red Snapper, a crazy sounding combo of Moletto Gin, Aperol, tomato juice, lemon juice, Crystal Hot Sauce, worcestershire, celery salt, and black pepper.
Everything at Crust is made on site, fresh. Only the best ingredients — real butter, cream and fresh fruit — are used. Stabilizers and hydrogenated oils are not.
In the front, you’ll get to watch them laminating dough for croissants and danishes, or maybe rolling out cinnamon buns. You might also catch them decorating cakes.
In the back room, you can sneak a peek into the mixing room, where everything gets it start at Crust.
They have some pretty talented people amongst their 120 employees. Many have been formally trained at culinary schools across the state and the country, from Baker College in Muskegon to The French Pastry School in Chicago.
The level of professionalism in the kitchen at Crust is exemplary. These chefs still know how to have fun too, and all seemed to love working here, with lots of laughter and chatter happening in each kitchen.
We were thrilled to see that the whole staff was out front when we arrived for our reveal. The cheers that erupted were awesome, and it was cool to see how proud the employees were of each other and their hard work. It truly is a team effort at Crust, and it shows.
So what does it mean to be named Michigan’s Best bakery?
“It’s huge. Everyone works so hard here. We just had an all employee meeting and we talked about how everyone has an impact on what we do, from dishwasher all the way through retail, every single person here. For them to receive this, that is what is really rewarding. I’m so proud of them. This means a lot,” Chad said.