The Vermont Bakery Tour took us on a beautiful, sunny, Sunday morning drive to Middlesex, VT to check out the Red Hen Baking Company & Cafe.
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The Vermont Bakery Tour took us on a beautiful, sunny, Sunday morning drive to Middlesex, VT to check out the Red Hen Baking Company & Cafe. Our friends Andrew, Lisa, and their daughter joined us there, and we had a delicious brunch together.
Red Hen, along with a few other shops, is nestled in a renovated building that was once the site of a diner. Once inside we found a homey and welcoming café.
The front of the café is cheery and bright, with pale yellow walls bathed in the light that streams through the large windows. The other half of the café has walls of a deep shade of tomato red (much like the color of my kitchen!), with a dark ceiling and warm wood counters, columns and beams.
In this half of the café you'll find shelves stuffed full of locally made cheeses, maple syrup, jams & jellies, wine, beer, and more.
Bridging the two halves of the café is the long counter behind which fresh-baked loaves are ready and waiting to be slipped into a paper bag to go home with you! There is also a large glass case that holds their delicate pastries and rolls.
Red Hen Baking Company has well over a dozen different bread varieties, each with distinctive flavors and textures, but all made with the company's own starters and with locally sourced wheat and base ingredients.
There is the Waitsfield Common, a white loaf with a chewy crust and soft interior that is a perfect toasting bread.
At the back of the café is the bright, high-ceilinged bakery, where you can watch the action through a wall of tall windows. There are bags of flour stacked high, bakers moving quickly between tables and racks, and a huge, red hen on the wall watching over everything.
The café was bustling when we arrived. As we took a moment to look over the sandwich and bread choices and to gaze into the bakery case, a line of hungry brunchers grew behind us. We made our choices and eagerly waited with our drinks at a long table pushed together with a backgammon table.
Andrew and I both had the Mr. Piggy panini sandwich: smoked ham, Cabot Cheddar, pickled onions, and a spicy sriracha mustard spread on slices of the Waitsfield Common bread. My husband and son also enjoyed this bread in their sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches, as did my daughter's boyfriend who enjoyed it simply toasted and spread with butter. Lisa and her daughter both enjoyed BLT's made on Cyrus Pringle bread, a chewy and mild wheat loaf.
The sandwiches were so tasty and so satisfying! The BLTs were brimming with fresh greens and thick slices of bacon. The Mr. Piggy sandwiches had a nice bite from the pickled red onion and spicy sriracha mustard.
The Waitsfield Common bread had an incredible toasty, crunchy exterior from its stint in the panini press. The boys' breakfast sandwiches were savory and satisfying. (I love that they're having sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches at nearly every stop: what a great way to compare the bakeries! I am much less focused... I'll eat whatever looks good.) With our eats were drinks ranging from hot coffee to cocoa, strawberry-lemonade to fruity seltzers.
I was making my way through my sandwich rather lazily, until I realized that the rest of the table was getting ready to move on to a sweet course. Sweets!
I gobbled up the last of my Mr. Piggy and joined the crew at the bakery case.
We came back to the table with an assortment of sweets, including a strawberry Danish, a chocolate-chocolate chip cookie, a beautiful peach gallette, and a chocolate croissant with impressive layers and shine.
We lingered long after our sweets and drinks vanished, chatting and checking the shelves of Vermont specialty foods and goods for sale.
I also had my Bakery Tour passport stamped, and convinced Andrew and Lisa to get passports too!
My husband was mesmerized by a large wall of posters and flyers for local events and services. (And he was tortured by an irresistible urge to organize it all!) He was particularly puzzled by this business card, blank on the back and the front offering only this:
Even after numerous Google searches the purpose and meaning of the card remains a mystery! Is it a business? A person? We may never know.
We DO know, however that our brunch at Red Hen Baking Company & Cafe was amazing, made all the better by the company of our good friends and fellow foodies. The next time we wander down Middlesex way, we will certainly stop again.
In the meantime, we took a loaf of Waitsfield Common bread home with us to enjoy, as well as a maple syrup t-shirt... and that mysterious business card!
The Red Hen Baking Company & Cafe is located at 961 US Route 2 in Middlesex, VT. They serve breakfast and lunch sandwiches, soups, salads, and pastries. They also have loaves and loaves of fresh-baked bread. Find out more about them on their website, including retail locations throughout Vermont where you can purchase their breads!
More bakeries on the tour:
Sweet Simone's Bakery & Cafe located in Richmond, Vermont.
August First Bakery & Cafe in Burlington, Vermont
O Bread Bakery in Shelburne, Vermont
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!