It seems like everyone has a sourdough starter these days, or is at least trying to bake all the things. Baked goods are comfort food and we could all use a little more comfort these days. But if you run into a problem with your baking projects, who you gonna call? The King Arthur Flour hotline, of course!
The Baker's Hotline isn't the only interactive food-focused helpline; the Butterball turkey hotline is another famous example. But the Turkey Talk Line is generally staffed around the holidays when turkey is a hot topic. The King Arthur Flour hotline has a staff of 13 baker specialists who answer phone calls and emails eight to 12 hours a day on most days (357 days a year, to be exact).
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There are SO few reasons that a sourdough starter actually needs to be thrown away. 99% of the time bakers ask us if they should start over, we say “no”. So if you’re asking yourself “Did I kill my sourdough starter?” The answer is very likely that you didn’t, and all it needs are consistent feedings and a little time. Read up on sourdough troubleshooting tips in our blog by tapping the link in our profile, and share what you’re baking by tagging @kingarthurflour and using #bakewithus (And please — don’t throw that starter out yet!)
The Vermont-based company started the Baker's Hotline in 1993. It's been popular with home bakers since then, but during the pandemic, the number of calls reached a whole new level. One of the baker specialists told NPR that the hotline received more than 10,000 phone calls and almost 8,000 emails during the month of April this year, which is five times more than the amount they received last April.
Most of the baker specialists are professional bakers and chefs, and many of them have some kind of culinary degree. They're used to answering questions about everything from the difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour, what substitutions to make in recipes, and - during the Covid-19 pandemic - a lot of questions on how to maintain a sourdough starter. Callers range from baking newbies to parents working on baking projects with their kids to more experienced bakers.
The flour company changed its name in July to King Arthur Baking Company, a rebrand that the company says speaks to the fact that its core mission is more than just producing flour. In a press release making the announcement, Karen Colberg, King Arthur Baking Company's co-CEO, said, "King Arthur has always been a baking company at heart. The rebrand reaffirms our belief in the power of baking, and our commitment to inspiring bakers through every single touchpoint including our teaching and our products."
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What's the small yet vital thing that bakers of all experience levels can do to make sure their baked goods come out as perfectly as possible? Find out on this week's episode of Bake It Better With Kye! Watch @life.of.kye teach flour measuring essentials on YouTube while she demos Doughnut Muffins — just follow the link in our profile to find the video and the recipe.
King Arthur has also increased their social media presence, responding to home bakers' photos with encouragement and applause. Their website is an outstanding resource, plus they have a baking school in Norwich, Vermont, and Skagit Valley, Washington.
So, if you run into a baking problem, have a question about why a cake isn't coming out right or what happened to your starter, or maybe just need some friendly encouragement after your last loaf of bread didn't rise quite right, give the folks at the King Arthur hotline a call.