Field Work Friday – The Windmill Farm Bake Shop

I’ve been trying for several years to find a great bakery who could give us a tour, so I was super excited when a friend told me about Windmill Farm Bake Shop in South Boston, Virginia.  A family-run business, they not only bake cookies and breads, but they also sell soup, run a deli, and have their own catering business.  Today they have an order for over 600 ham biscuits!

This family knows their stuff.  We began our tour by walking to the kitchen past this table full of amazing cookies.


Even though it was late in the day, the sandwich orders just kept coming.  They typically make over over 400 sandwiches each day!


Next we headed to the doughnut area.  This is the proofer, where the dough rises …


and then they’re fried and iced here.


This industrial oven was next.  The kids loved how both doors opened when you touched one.


This gentleman was mixing up a huge batch of monster cookies.  Even the dough smelled amazing, and the finished product was a huge hit with the kids afterwards.


Josh showed us another, even bigger mixer next.  The kids all wanted to know more about the paddle, so he let them hold it and then showed how the mixer worked.


Josh showed us this freezer, totally loaded with pie crusts.  He said that several employees had made all of these crusts today – and that they wouldn’t last very long.


The Bake Shop’s items are baked fresh each morning, and the employees begin baking at 4:30 AM to be ready for their 7:30 AM opening.  To streamline the morning process, some products are prepared and refrigerated overnight, then baked when the employees arrive.  One beautiful girl was preparing this muffin batter while we visited her kitchen.  Even the raw product looks good!


We all thought that this machine was especially neat  It’s a bread slicer!  Josh showed us the guards and the many knives that slice the bread.  One girl wanted to know about that bar that runs horizontally about halfway up the length of the knives.  Josh’s thoughts were that perhaps the guard is adjustable for different sized loaves.  I can’t image a loaf of bread that big, though – can you?


This machine is a pie crust stamper.  Prepared pie crust is placed on a round disk  on the base, and then the press comes down and presses the dough into the pie pan, fluting the edges and everything.  That must be much simpler than the pressing and cutting and fixing I always have to do!


This cool machine is a yeast roll roller.  When a large amount of dough is put onto the disk shown in the picture above, the machine then stamps out rolls and rolls them into the perfect shape.  Amazing!


Josh generously gave each child his choice of a free cookie upon completion of the tour.  


Both of mine opted for monster cookies, and they loved sitting at a big table with their friends over cookies.  We came home with a fair assortment of the bakery’s products to sample and can’t wait to be back in their neck of the woods.

Should you ever travel through the southern Virginia area, be sure to stop in at Windmill Farm Bake Shop.  You won’t be sorry!

And, of course, now we’re going to learn how to make our own versions of some of these goodies.  Isn’t that the logical educational path after a field trip?  😉

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