Background by Mia
Located at 309 North Main Street in Hendersonville, North Carolina, McFarlan Bakery prides itself on being a “made from scratch” bakery. McFarlan bakery is committed to using the same recipes the “ole timers” used at the very same bakery eighty years ago. The bakery has a delivery 7 service valid within Henderson County, which costs $20.00 per delivery. The bakery does not offer Fondant cakes, but does make decorated cookies for special occasions, as well as speciality items such as King Cakes, which must be ordered in advance. The bakery has something for everyone, even gluten free customers, who can enjoy the bakery’s signature almond macaroons. The bakery offers a number of seasonal baked goods such as apple turnovers, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie… just in time for Thanksgiving! Make sure to order ahead if you’re looking for a specific item.
The bakery offers a wide range of breads, including white sourdough bread, whole wheat sourdough bread, french bread, old fashioned butter bread, swiss milk country bread, 100% whole wheat bread, dark pumpernickel rye bread, seeded and seedless rye bread and pumpkin bread! Most notably, McFarlan offers salt rising bread, a dense white bread that was made by the early settlers in the Appalachian Mountains, rarely seen today. The process to create salt rising bread takes 48 hours, but it is more worth the wait!
The bakery also offers a wide range of pastries, which can be found on the McFarlan Bake Shop website. Pies vary by season, but some of the McFarlan favorites include pumpkin, apple, blackberry, pecan, peach cobbler, swicc chocolate, cherry, blueberry, coconut meringue, dutch apple, lemon meringue, french silk, and strawberry pie. Of course, McFarlan offers a variety of cakes. Visitors can choose between six batters, twelve fillings, and eight icings to create their perfect confection! The bakery is open Tuesday through Saturday from seven am to five thirty pm, and is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years day as well as the day directly following the holiday.
Experience by Kyra
This semester in PWR 297, we took a deep dive into one of the most delicious desserts you can find nearly anywhere along Highway 64: Donuts. While everyone’s donut preferences differ, there are some shops that truly bring together donut-lovers from all over, regardless of whether they love cream-filled or glazed; McFarlan Bake Shop is one of those places. After surveying 940 people living along the highway, one almost 10% of all people surveyed named McFarlan as their preferred donut shop, either as children or currently. Reading the stories of people’s memories of the bake shop, their experiences in the warm and homely environment, and the high praise of the donuts, I knew I had to stop by to really get a feel of the regions’ culture.
Walking through downtown Hendersonville, you immediately know when you’ve reached McFarlan. Patrons flow easily throughout the connected shops in the area, but at McFarlan Bake Shop, a line stretching out the door and down to the next shop marks the entrance. Despite the line, my visit takes no more than 20 minutes and the minute I stepped in the door it was clear why. The McFarlan staff knows exactly what they’re doing (I mean, they have been doing this since 1930). Five or six staff members man the pastry case alone, taking orders from hungry customers who are eager to get their hands on the wide array of treats. Also, I think it’s important to note that when I say “wide array,” I mean wide array: Pies, brownies, cakes, cookies, cream puffs, eclairs, you name it, I can almost guarantee they have it. Waiting in line, I finally make eye contact with the regionally-renowned donuts. Before visiting, I of course read the menu ahead of time and saw that McFarlan offers 15 unique types of donuts. Waiting in line, despite only seeing about 5 of these flavors, I worry I may not be able to choose, they all look almost overwhelmingly delicious. After only about 7 or 8 minutes of waiting, an incredibly kind worker walks me down to the end of the pastry case so she can hear me, and I ask for 4 glazed donuts (I know my roommates won’t let me live it down if I don’t bring any home). Ultimately, I know I need to taste the tried and true, the specific type of donut that was the topic of several personal accounts from the survey data. For about $4.50, I head out with a box full of donuts and a smile on my face. I’m only frustrated I can’t stay and eat in the cute little shop which, despite being insanely busy, felt just like home, especially because of the University of Tennessee merch that filled my heart as a Knoxville native.
Getting back in the car, excitement washes over me. I have to know what these homemade donuts taste like! Within my first bite, I understand the hype surrounding the donut. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and savory, the yeastiness of the donut itself balancing out the sticky glaze. It’s light and fluffy, just like a yeast donut should be. The only thing that could make it more perfect is if it were warm… other than that, Krispy Kreme has nothing on McFarlan. It’s all I can do not to eat another one on my way home, the sweet scent filling my entire car. When I finally arrive at my apartment 3 hours later, my roommates try the donuts and are equally as amazed as I am. Despite the four of us being from all over the country, we can all agree that these donuts are some of the best we’ve all ever had. McFarlan Bake Shop truly makes you feel like you’re home, no matter where you’re from. The donuts are delicious and homemade, the people are just as kind as your own family, and the shop itself is so cozy, you can’t help but feel welcome. I’m so thrilled I got a taste of this hidden gem in the foothills of North Carolina and I can’t wait until the next time I can stop by.