This weekend’s birthday trip to King Arthur Flour Bakery, Café and Baker’s Store in Norwich, Vermont, was a long time coming. Last Christmas, I received Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day from my brother-in-law and his wife. It took me a while to crack into the book, but I’ve been obsessed for several months. I’ll post a full review, but I want to try as many recipes as possible first! Anyway, the book recommends using a “food-grade container that holds about 5 quarts” to contain the dough while it rises.
I didn’t have such a container, but I’d been making it work by using the glass mixing bowl for my KitchenAid stand mixer and halving the recipe, because making a full recipe made the bowl overflow. I checked out Amazon for a better container and was linked to the King Arthur Flour website, where the container of my dreams existed. I was all set to buy it, but the $15 dough rising bucket was going to cost $8 to ship. And that just seemed silly. In an attempt to offset this annoyance, I entered the King Arthur Flour baking competition at the Adams Agricultural Fair (spoiler alert: I didn’t win). But my awesome husband Brian offered to take me up to the King Arthur Flour Bakery, Café and Baker’s Store for my birthday last Sunday, to buy the dough-rising bucket, and enjoy the King Arthur establishment in general.
Sunday’s weather was beautiful, which made for a perfect ride up through Vermont to the King Arthur campus. We arrived around 12:30 and the place was bustling. Apparently lunch at King Arthur Flour is not a unique idea. Luckily, the line to order wasn’t long. Everything on the menu sounded appetizing and I loved the list of local producers that were being utilized. I ordered the grilled cheese (Cabot cheddar, hand cut artisan country white bread) and Brian ordered the applewood smoked ham (whole grain fig mustard, brie and lettuce on multigrain bread), we both had butternut squash cider soup. It took about twenty minutes for our food to be ready, but I enjoyed people watching, plotting my shopping and checking out the space.
The space looks like it was just built. The ceilings have exposed wood beams and both the store and the café area (which takes up most of the King Arthur Flour building) are simultaneously open and cozy. The café space is lined with windows into the bakery area and I spent a few minutes watching employees make baguettes and pastries. I also took a peek into the classroom area, where King Arthur Flour offers regular baking courses. Now that I’ve been up there, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on their upcoming class offerings.
Despite the wait, the food was good and hit the spot. We were especially pleased with the butternut squash and cider soup; I’m going to try to create a similar recipe. Why didn’t I think of that on my own? I wouldn’t say that the sandwiches were particularly unique, but the fresh bread was delicious and I loved how crispy my grilled cheese was. In addition, the sandwiches were pretty big and I ended up saving half of my sandwich for later.
After lunch, it was time to shop! Though I had a specific item in mind, I wanted to check out everything else the store had to offer. I explored every aisle and display. In addition to all the King Arthur Flour varieties, the store offers baking mixes, pans, stand mixers, cookbooks, décor items, tea towels and aprons, flavor extracts and more. In the corner of the store, a kitchen is set up and staffed with employees who provide samples and answer baking questions. The store seemed well staffed and I overheard several productive conversations about technique.
I managed to escape with just my dough-rising bucket (which I’ve already put to good use), a t-shirt and a new 8×8 baking pan, which I was in much need of. I really enjoyed browsing and the vibe of the campus and other customers. After shopping, we stopped by the bakery counter in the café and purchased a chocolate dipped coconut macaroon and a magic bar. Brian didn’t let me try his magic bar, but the macaroon was denser than any I’d ever had before (they’re the pyramid shaped items below) , but somehow the texture remained familiar. So good.
Now that I’ve been to the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Store and Café, I’ll be paying even more attention to the events and products coming out of the company. It’s neat to have a 100% employee owned flour company that’s just a couple hours away and whose products I can find at my local supermarket. I don’t know when I’ll get to King Arthur Flour’s campus again, but I’d definitely recommend it if you get the chance!