Bakers’ Harvest Festival 2013: Sweet (and savory) inspiration

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The sun rose last Saturday to a cool and foggy valley; a quintessential fall morning, precursor to a perfect autumn afternoon.

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By the time the first wave of patrons rolled through the Bakers’ Harvest Festival at King Arthur Flour’s bakery store in Norwich VT, the smell of wood-fired pizza and homemade apple cake were already hanging tantalizingly in the air.

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A cup of coffee and baked goods in hand, customers headed over to our Baking Education Center (BEC) to catch the first event of the day – an amateur baking competition among King Arthur Flour employee-owners.

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It wasn’t long before the entire store was packed with festival goers, tasting free samples from Vermont Fresh Pasta, My Brigadeiro Chocolate, Vermont Smoke and Cure, and more.

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Outside, KAF employees doled out caramel-covered apples by the hundreds, while Joanna Waldman from Post and Beam Bakery helped kids (and some adults!) frost and decorate cookies to the sounds of Cheronia, a French and Celtic musical duo playing in the courtyard.

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Inside the demo kitchen, customers sampled soup from Two Guys in Vermont (whose pre-made soup comes uniquely packaged in glass jars), and tasted homemade peanut brittle from Beary Best Brittle.

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Pretzel twisting

In between baking competitions, our expert bakers were in the BEC teaching folks how to twist pretzels, bake light and tender biscuits with our self-rising flour, and decorate cupcakes.

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As morning rolled into afternoon, singer/songwriter Jon Gailmor took the stage and serenaded the crowd with favorites like “Dirt” and “Celebrate the Children.”

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Blues singer and guitarist James Burger closed out the festival with his twangy sounds and steel guitar slide.

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Especially popular was the Pro Series baking challenge, which pitted King Arthur Flour bakers Susan Reid, Jeffrey Hamelman, and Robyn Sargent against one another in a battle for culinary bragging rights!

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MC Julie Christopher threw in a last minute spin, asking the bakers to include two of four surprise ingredients in their favorite apple pastry: raw coconut flakes, toasted coconut flakes, cinnamon chips, and apple butter.

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Jeffrey used raw and toasted coconut, and took home the prize for “best show” with his apple tart. Susan won for “most delish” baked good with her cranberry-apple upside down cake, incorporating apple butter and raw coconut into her top secret recipe.

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Finally, Robyn was victorious in the “best-looking” category with her beautiful apple galette, and incorporated an astounding four out of four surprise ingredients!

For most of us, 30 minutes to complete a baked good would be difficult at best (or impossible, in my case) but these pros were cleaning their stations with 5 minutes to spare! You can’t put one over on King Arthur Flour’s best bakers.

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Customers and patrons alike agreed that this year’s Bakers’ Harvest Festival was a huge success. We’ve only just put away the balloons and hay bales, but we’ve already started planning for next year – that’s how much fun we had!

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Until then, we’ll leave you with a few photos from the other events surrounding the festival – the Bakers’ Harvest Dinner, which brought in over $13,000 for Hunger Free Vermont; and the Bakers’ Harvest conference, which brought bakers from as far away as Mexico to Vermont for two action-packed days in the education center.

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_Harvest Dinner Collage 1

See you next year!

 

Julia Reed
About

Julia Reed is a New England-based food and lifestyle writer/photographer, and Multimedia Producer at King Arthur Flour. Educated at Emerson College in Boston, she spent 5 years in Los Angeles before returning East, leaving behind food trucks, secret dinners, and year-round farmers' markets to pursue ...

comments

  1. Paul from Ohio

    AWESOME smelling, tasting, making, baking, listening and just all round good time EVENT! Good job Julia in sharing the great good time with us. Only regret? That I was not there to have participated. I would have stayed ALL DAY!
    Really great EVENT all round KAF – you all did yourselves proud.

    Reply
  2. JuliaJ

    Fantastic event, thanks for sharing the photos! Could you add more captions so we know more about the guest chefs/bakers, the food items and the KAF winners?? And add links if recipes are online for some of the yummy items?

    Julia, consider this more a photo collage than a complete wrap-up of the festival; I think it evokes the good feelings the event engendered, even without many words. Julia Reed, our new PR team member and first-time blogger here, is a super photographer, and I think she felt comfortable letting the photos speak for themselves. Some of us are more “wordy” than others; both styles of blogging are effective and compelling, IMHO. As for the recipes – here’s the Apple Upside-Down Gingerbread, which the KA “amateur” bakers made in their challenge. The remaining recipes aren’t online, as they’re Bakery or Baking Education Center recipes. Hope this helps – thanks for your interest, as always. PJH

    For what it’s worth, the apple pie cake recipe (the one with the cranberries) is from the 2013 Autumn Baking Sheet, page 22. I just took some of the apples and sliced them to put on the bottom of the pan, which became the top. Susan Reid

    Reply
  3. waikikirie

    Wish I lived closer. Maybe next year I’ll plan to take a long weekend and come up to Vermont. It looks like everyone enjoyed themselves.
    OH, we’d love to have you come for the weekend! Pencil us in for sure. ~ MJ

    Reply
  4. Jenn

    So wished we could make it that weekend, but things didn’t work out. Definitely will be in our plans for next year! But we’ll be up to visit next weekend, so we’ll see you then :-)

    Reply

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