The culminating bakery of our summer-long, bakery fest - a.k.a. the King Arthur Flour Vermont Bakery Tour, was the Bakery and Café... at King Arthur Flour in Norwich!
We left home early with sleepy kids in the back of the car to make the drive to meet our friends Andrew and Lisa at King Arthur Flour. Against green hills that roll down to a sunny, open courtyard is the King Arthur Flour campus, consisting of the café, bakery, bakery store and their education center.
It is a beautiful sight, with Adirondack chairs spread around the courtyard and a few perched on the hill to let folks take in the scenery as they feast.
Inside the large glass doors is the expansive café, and when we arrived it was bustling!
We took in all that there is to see inside, including a history of the 227 year-old company displayed on a long wall, and several windows to look in on bakers shaping and rolling.
We also took a peek into the bakery store, and then finally hopped in line to make our way to the counter.
With the array of goodies available, there was something for everyone.... many somethings for each of us, actually!
Our selections included a tall cup of Café Americano for me, steaming cups of cocoa topped with cubes of homemade marshmallows for both kids, sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches for the boys, for my daughter a slice of artisan bread with a Cheddar-jalapeño spread,and for me a cardamom bun and a scone flavored with Cheddar, bacon, and scallions.
We could not resist the perfect pastries gleaming in the case, so we took a sampling of these too: a chilled éclair, a glistening mini fruit tart, and a Napoleon.
The classic éclair was rich with cream and chocolate.
The fruit tart was colorful, and the plum, strawberries, blackberries and kiwi covering the top gave it luscious sweetness.
Of all the pastries, the Napoleon was my favorite: tall, with sweet pastry cream between three crisp and light layers of pastry, and topped with shiny, decorated icing. It was beautiful as were all the pastries we tried, and it was decadently satisfying.
We had a wonderful breakfast at a long, wood table at the back of the café, taking in all the people moving around us, and enjoying every last bite of our treats. Lisa also had a cardamom bun, and Andrew had a massive plate of sumptuous sausage gravy ladled over biscuits.
We all enviously eyed his breakfast! They took home a bag of pastries for their daughter, who opted to stay home and sleep. (An option enviously pondered by our kids!) They brought home chocolate croissants and cookies, including one with dark chocolate, pistachios and sea salt.
This location is one that I have been to many times, so I was pleased to make the trip again for the Bakery Tour. I come to King Arthur for the courses in the Baking Education Center. Between classes I attended years ago at their old location, and more recently at this new campus (which opened in 2012), I have taken six classes in total, and I highly recommend them.
They are fun, especially to do with friends and family (I've done these alongside my mom, sister, and daughter), and the instructors are fantastic. You will come away with new skills and an eagerness to get baking at home!
After your class, you have the café there to refuel, and the Baker's Store to go crazy in. (A phenomenon to which my mom, sister, and daughter can attest!) This fall I will attend for the first time the Baker's Harvest Conference at King Arthur, chock full of classes and people to meet, and I am giddy with anticipation!
We all took time after eating to reflect back on the Bakery Tour, and recall our favorites at each stop. For me, the favorite finds are:
Klinger's Bakery: Almond Croissant
August First: Vermont Maple Biscuits
Red Hen Bakery: Waitsfield Common bread
O Bread Bakery: Chile Cheese Ciabatta
Sweet Simone's: Coconut Chocolate Chip Scone
Bentley's Bakery: freshly made Salt Bagels
Birchgrove Baking: Passion Fruit Tart
King Arthur Flour Bakery: Napoleon pastry
These treats were all incredible, but finding (and consuming) them was not the only reason to love this bakery tour.
The tour gave me the chance to take beautiful drives to parts of Vermont we do not often get to. I made these happy treks with my husband and kids, and we chatted or listened to podcasts, fretted over missed exits, and ultimately bonded over gourmet baked goods.
I also saw my friends and family get excited about this adventure with me: our friends Andrew and Lisa participating in the tour and meeting us at several of the bakeries, Aunt Anne and cousins Lars and Susan, meeting us at Sweet Simone's, introducing me to the owner, and Susan showing us the future home of her endeavor, Richmond Community Kitchen.
I heard from several of the owners of the bakeries on this tour, who were eager to hear about the visits and gracious in talking to me about their businesses and their passion for baking. Lastly, touring these bakeries has sparked so many conversations in person and online with folks who are curious about my experiences and excited to visit the bakeries, and that is exactly what I love about sharing my adventures on this blog!
I am very grateful to my friend Amanda for bringing this Vermont Bakery Tour to my attention. And, I am excited to exchange my completed Bakery Passport for that exclusive King Arthur Flour Bakery Tour tote bag. And you can get a tote bag, too! Head to this page on the King Arthur Flour website to read about the tour, and get your bakery adventure started.
One last note: At our first stop, Klinger's Bakery & Cafe, playing overhead as we ate was the song, "Sh Boom Sh Boom" by The Crew Cuts, with the refrain of "Life could be a dream, sweetheart." It struck me then, at the start of the tour and now too as we end it, that a life spent in pursuit of bakeries across Vermont, across the Northeast, across the country, would indeed be a dream... sweetheart!
Here are more Delectable Destinations in Vermont:
King Arthur Baking Company & Café is located at 135 US Route 5, South Norwich, VT. This same location also holds their Baker's Store and Education Center. In their café enjoy a huge assortment of pastries, breads, baked treats, breakfast dishes, and sandwiches. There are also many packaged items to buy and take with you, like salads and pastas. Find out more about the café, store, and classes on their website: click here!
The King Arthur Flour Vermont Bakery Tour consists of eight bakeries scattered over the northern half of Vermont. Participants visit the bakeries, taste the fine baked goods, and have their Bakery Passport stamped at each. The completed passport can then be redeemed for an exclusive Bakery Tour tote bag! Visit this link, King Arthur Flour Vermont Bakery Tour for more information.