The welcome sign for King Arthur Flour’s newly renovated facility
Where to begin.
I just finished up a three day tour with King Arthur Flour at their Baking Education Center where we dabbled in the basic arts of everything from yeast breads to pastry dough. To say this was a dream trip for me would be under playing the entire experience. I have been wanting, no scratch that, needing to learn more about the art of baking for some years now. It all began with a batch of homemade sourdough starter and grew from there, stretching so far as a dream to someday run my own boutique flour shop selling all forms of flour from the most common to the rarest artisan forms.
So you can imagine my elation when King Arthur Flour sent me an invite to join them for a blog and bake adventure up at their headquarters in Norwich, Vermont. I pulled up into the parking lot and instantly felt at home. Upon walking into the facility I was greeted by our host for the stay, Allison, and we kicked off the experience with a class conducted by Susan Purdy, author of Pie in the Sky, who taught us all about the art of recipe writing. And this wasn’t just a “you sit and listen to me talk” kind of session. I’m talking hands on, fingers in the fray kind of learning. We divided into two groups and were each assigned a batch of ingredients with which to create our recipe from. Once we were finished, the instructors tasted our masterpieces and promptly had us hand over our recipe to the opposite team to recreate. Let me tell you, there is seriously no better way to see where you went wrong with your written recipe creation than to have someone else attempt to cook what you just put down on paper. There were a few challenges along the way, but we all came out that much the wiser on the other side.
My Team’s finished recipe of morning time french toast drizzled with a raspberry coulis sauce
After finishing up with Susan, we headed back to our home away from home for the next two days, The Norwich Inn. We were greeted with a host of delectable appetizers and wines that would spoil even the pickiest foodie and had a chance to get to know the other bloggers in a more personal setting. The beds were heavenly and the staff was amazing.
Day two brought us to the good stuff: bread baking. We were treated to a host of King Arthur bakers throughout the experience and, let me tell ya, these guys really know their stuff. The morning started out with a lesson in basic yeast breads. We each made a loaf pan and a freeform braided bread. Both were some of the best bread I’ve ever made.
A sampling of the group’s attempts at braided breads
After a delightful homemade lunch, we focused in on learning about the different types/brands of flour and how they differ from each other. They even had a handy dandy chart explaining the entire husk of wheat and how each piece and part contributes to the finished product.
Learning how wheat becomes flour
We finished up the day with an experience that was nothing short of once in a lifetime. All the attending food bloggers participated in a live taping of Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito. I felt like a Hollywood movie star with all the lights and cameras rolling! Ms. Esposito was nothing short of wonderful. She had mad cooking and tv skills and was kind enough to give us all signed copies of her cookbook after the filming. The show tapes about a year out, so you can look for our episode to air on PBS sometime next spring.
Having my book signed by Mary Ann Esposito. Nope, not excited about it one little bit.
I swear they saved the best baking bits for the last day. We learned the secrets to perfect pie crust (I can’t wait to share some amazing tips with you all!) and, wait for it, a blitz puff pastry crust that literally took me all of 25 minutes to make. Who knew puff pastry could be so darn easy?! You better believe I’ll be sharing that little gem as well. The afternoon was capped off with a lunch fit for royalty that was sourced completely local from inside Vermont. I swear on my mother’s manicotti, I have never had such an amazing lunch in all my days. The locally smoked ham…. Oh that locally smoked ham.
Our King Arthur baker for the morning, Susan, creating a fruit galette from the newly created blitz puff pastry
Before saying goodbye, we were given a whirlwind tour of the order processing plant and test kitchen. I was fascinated to learn that some of their products were tested over four hundred times before being sent out to the masses for us to use and enjoy!
Order fulfillment where all the tasty products we purchase are shipped from
All in all, it was an experience I won’t soon forget. Not only has King Arthur Flour reignited my enjoyment for baking in a way I didn’t think was possible, but they showed me through their generosity and passion why King Arthur is truly a superior product in the world of baking. It’s not just the flour in that bag you buy at the store. It’s the people standing behind it. Men and women who are dedicated to quality, dedicated to their company, and above all, dedicated to the people who use and love their products.
It was truly an honor to be a part of their family for the three days I was there. I only hope I can do King Arthur products proud in all my future baking endeavors. Thank you for a truly amazing experience!
All the participating food bloggers posing for a shot with Mary Ann Esposito (Photo courtesy of King Arthur Flour)
Be sure to check out some of the other posts from my fellow food blogger attendees (I’ll add more as they’re posted)':
Matt from Thyme in our Kitchen – Blog and Bake
Carrie from Bakeaholic Mama – Day One King Arthur Flour’s Blog and Bake (Recipe Writing)
Astrid from Lunches Fit for a Kid – King Arthur Flour Blog and Bake 2012
Regan from The Professional Palate – King Arthur Flour Blog and Bake: A Picture Perfect Baking Event
Carolyn from Whisk Write Repeat – Blog and Bake at King Arthur Flour
Tara from Smells Like Home – Blog and Bake through Pictures
Nikki from Art and Lemons – A Visit to King Arthur Flour, part 1: Bread Basics
Disclaimer: King Arthur Flour Provided Classes, accommodations and meals while in Vermont. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.