Martha Bakes, for a Crowd

King Arthur Flour Welcomes the Queen of a Media Empire

  • Martha Stewart and Thomas Joseph, King Arthur Flour's director of food development, laugh during a baking demonstration at the Baking Education Center at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vt. on June 18, 2014.<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Martha Stewart and Thomas Joseph, King Arthur Flour's director of food development, laugh during a baking demonstration at the Baking Education Center at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vt. on June 18, 2014.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • A participant eats a cookie baked during a demonstration by Martha Stewart at the Baking Education Center at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vt., on June 18, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    A participant eats a cookie baked during a demonstration by Martha Stewart at the Baking Education Center at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vt., on June 18, 2014.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Waiting in line to have Martha Stewart sign their books, Dale Boyle of, Attleboro Mass., left, helps Olga Kary, of Thetford, Vt., with her phone at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, vt., on June 18, 2014. Kary was holding a Martha Stewart cookbook from 1983. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Waiting in line to have Martha Stewart sign their books, Dale Boyle of, Attleboro Mass., left, helps Olga Kary, of Thetford, Vt., with her phone at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, vt., on June 18, 2014. Kary was holding a Martha Stewart cookbook from 1983.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Brian Barthelmes stands nearby as Martha Stewart signs books for fans at King Arthur Flour in Norwich. Barthelmes, a King Arthur employee, said he was there to keep watch.  <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

    Brian Barthelmes stands nearby as Martha Stewart signs books for fans at King Arthur Flour in Norwich. Barthelmes, a King Arthur employee, said he was there to keep watch.
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

  • Martha Stewart and Thomas Joseph, King Arthur Flour's director of food development, laugh during a baking demonstration at the Baking Education Center at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vt. on June 18, 2014.<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  • A participant eats a cookie baked during a demonstration by Martha Stewart at the Baking Education Center at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vt., on June 18, 2014. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  • Waiting in line to have Martha Stewart sign their books, Dale Boyle of, Attleboro Mass., left, helps Olga Kary, of Thetford, Vt., with her phone at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, vt., on June 18, 2014. Kary was holding a Martha Stewart cookbook from 1983. <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck
  • Brian Barthelmes stands nearby as Martha Stewart signs books for fans at King Arthur Flour in Norwich. Barthelmes, a King Arthur employee, said he was there to keep watch.  <br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

Norwich — As she mixed, stirred and kneaded, media magnate Martha Stewart talked animatedly about her methods and techniques.

While scraping whisked eggs into a bowl, Stewart said to the class at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, “My mother would kill me if I didn’t use a rubber scraper. You can’t waste a drop of your ingredients.”

King Arthur Flour, located in Norwich, is a sponsor of Martha Bakes, one of Stewart’s shows on PBS, and Stewart’s visit last week to the company’s Baking Education Center furthered that relationship .

“We’ve been using King Arthur Flour for a very long time,” Stewart said to a group of reporters before the class. “It’s just natural that the oldest flour company in the United States and Martha should get together.” (Stewart took questions from broadcast reporters, but not print reporters.)

Martha Bakes and Martha Stewart’s Cooking School are both in their third seasons on PBS, and have received high ratings.

“It makes me happy that people are responding so favorably to it,” Stewart said. “I consider myself a teacher first and foremost, and I think that shows like these have been a little bit absent from television. Public television has more good shows than any other place, I think. It’s fun to have the challenges and the contests and the crazy road shows, but it’s also important to know how to make things.”

According to Stewart, this wasn’t her first time in the Upper Valley.

“One of my best college weekends ever was at Dartmouth. I took a train up, and I was dating one of the basketball players, and I probably shouldn’t tell you the rest,” Stewart laughed. “But it’s great to be here again, and the weather is gorgeous.”

During the class, Stewart baked a breakfast cookie, a flatbread and a stollen, a yeast fruitcake of German origin. While she worked, assisted by Thomas Joseph, her director of food development , she sprinkled her instructions with tips and anecdotes from her travels.

While preparing the dried fruit for her stollen, she talked about the apricot jam that she had made the previous weekend.

“You soak apricots for two days in water, lemon and sugar. You should also smash a couple of apricot pits and put those in the jam to give it that nice almond flavor. Apricot pits contain a little bit of arsenic, but don’t worry. You’d have to eat about 10,000 of them to feel the effects,” she said.

As she grated nutmeg, Stewart reminisced about her travels.

“Mace is the lacy brown covering of nutmeg, and it also has a really nice flavor,” she said. “So if you go to an island in the Caribbean, instead of laying out on the beach, you should go find some spices.”

Stewart also talked about the fruit she had found at Olson Family Farms in rural California, the citrons she had encountered in Corsica and the candied fruits she had bought in the south of France, making the art of baking seem like an exotic adventure. But she also made sure to appreciate Vermont’s culinary offerings.

“The butter is so great here in Vermont,” she said. “I always buy a ton and freeze it when I get home. Make sure you freeze butter in Ziploc bags rather than in paper, by the way.”

The class was followed by a book signing, which was very well attended.

“I’ve learned so much from her over the years,” said Alexandra Holbrook of Hanover. “She’s an amazing teacher and it was a thrill to meet her. She was very funny, warm and personable. And she made delicious treats. I will have to try the stollen at Christmas.”

Micki Colbeck, who volunteered at the event, said she had to get a signed book for her daughter, an avid Martha fan.

“I had a book signed to give to my daughter for her birthday,” Colbeck said. “My daughter loves to bake, and loves all of Martha’s genre — housekeeping, gardening, baking, you name it.”

Nancy Paronto of White River Junction came to the book signing because she had never met a celebrity before, she said.

“I watch her a lot at home,” Paronto said. “Every weekend my family and I try out a new Martha recipe.”

For Stewart, baking should not be too challenging. It should be a joy.

“I think baking is really easy,” Stewart said. “I think you just have to understand that baking is a science. It’s not a free-for-all. You can’t just dump whatever you feel like into a bowl. There are portions that have to be attended to, directions that have to be followed, oven temperatures that have to be accurate, and then you’ll probably get something resembling the recipe. I think it takes a little practice, but no one should be afraid to bake. And everybody loves baking.”

Lauren Bender can be reached at lbender@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.