With fresh pastries for sale, an on-site baking school, and a shop filled with tools of the trade, the King Arthur flagship campus in Norwich, Vermont, is like Disneyland for bakers.
By Amy Traverso
Nov 22 2019
The central courtyard hosts events year-roundPhoto Credit : Amy Traverso
Located just off I-91 in southern Vermont, the King Arthur Flour flagship store is both a worthy day trip unto itself and a convenient stop on the way to someplace else. For bakers, it’s truly a place of pilgrimage. And there’s no better spot to stock up before holiday pie and cookie season.
All around the world, baking pros and hobbyists are having a moment. Credit the popularity of The Great British Baking Show, which, if Twitter is any indication, brings all human activity to a halt when a new season is released. The appeal of baking as a form of creative expression and a source of comfort seems more relevant than ever. Lucky for us, the mother ship of baking products and know-how is right here in New England. There’s plenty to do at the King Arthur flagship store, from taking a class to browsing the retail store to sitting down for lunch at the bakery-café.
King Arthur is America’s oldest (and first) flour company. George Washington was president when it was established in Boston in 1790. Instead of growing wheat domestically, founder Henry Wood began by importing flour from England. It wasn’t until the 1820s that American farmers were producing enough wheat for the company to turn to domestic sources. Since then, it has earned the loyalty of pastry chefs by working with a team of farms around the U.S. and Canada to maintain strict standards for the protein content of its flours. While some other companies buy wheat solely based on price, King Arthur aims to ensure reliable results by making sure that the product is essentially the same from batch to batch.
While the King Arthur catalog puts equal emphasis on kitchen tools, bakeware, and food products, the offerings at the flagship store lean more heavily toward baking mixes, specialty ingredients (think flours, sprinkles, and flavorings), specialty bakeware (hello, Bundt pans!), gifts, and locally made gourmet goods.
The baking school at the King Arthur flagship store offers single or multiday workshops on everything from macarons to rye bread. Classes tend to fill up, so reserve your spot about a month in advance. If you want to take a class, plan to do that before you shop: Students get a discount in the retail shop once they complete a course. There’s also a demonstration kitchen in the back of the store where staff offer more informal lessons. (Insider tip: This is where they keep the samples!)
No time for a class? You can watch professional bakers turn out croissants, breads, and cookies for the bakery-café. Fun fact: The ovens in the commercial bakery can hold 640 cookies and 512 croissants at a time.
Feeling hungry? Head over to the central bakery-café, where a full range of sweets and savories is on offer. For best results, try to arrive before noon: Pastries and breads are baked fresh daily and do sell out. You can also grab salads and prepared foods to take home. (Senior digital editor Aimee Tucker recommends the trio of spicy tuna salad, artichoke tapenade, and jalapeño cheddar spread to go along with one of the fresh baguettes.)
After watching a pastry chef prep the next day’s batch of danishes in the bakery, I had to try one for myself. Flavors change through the seasons: This one was plum, ginger, and streusel — delicious!
Whether you’re in the mood to shop, snack, or learn to make the perfect croissant, there’s a reason to plan a pilgrimage to Norwich, Vermont. Have you ever visited the King Arthur Flour flagship store?