Waves of grain

The history of General Mills goes back to 1866, when Cadwallader Washburn first milled wheat on the Mississippi River’s west bank.

Across the river, Pillsbury’s A Mill capped its first flour barrels in 1881. But even though those mills are no longer active, flour is still a main ingredient in our lives. New bakeries keep opening, our bakers win national and international awards, local authors write books on how to bake artisan breads with ease and donuts are on the rise again.

If your household is like mine, bread doesn’t stick around long. The boules and baguettes seem to disappear.

I don’t remember having it around our house a lot when I was a child, but my nearby grandmother always had toast with her afternoon coffee. Her sisters always served toast too. We’d go visit Great Aunt Mildred near Lake Nokomis and she’d give us peanut butter toast. It melted slightly on the warm bread and was delicious!

One day I was driving through Plymouth and saw a bakery outlet. They use to be all over the place, but there aren’t many left. I found three in the metro area and they all have a slightly different take on being an outlet store.

NEW FRENCH -- Beautiful textures and open shelving make this outlet feel more like a trendy neighborhood bakery. Photo by Linda Koutsky
NEW FRENCH — Beautiful textures and open shelving make this outlet feel more like a trendy neighborhood bakery. Photo by Linda Koutsky

New French Bakery outlet

Established as a bakery in 1995, this outlet store has been open for more than 20 years! How have I missed it?! Such deals!

When restaurants or grocery stores have order changes or the bread didn’t exactly turn out how the baker wanted it to, it’s put on these shelves. None of us would be able to tell the difference.

Wood bakers racks and glass cases are filled with their signature baguettes plus a variety of tempting loaves, boules and batards, including cranberry wild rice, multigrain and sourdough available in regular, soft, hard or 24-hour extra sour. A case of vegan breads carries many products made without milk, eggs or honey.

Open Mon.–Fri., 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sat.–Sun., 8:30 a.m.–3 p.m.

2609 26th Ave. S.

TOURIST Hopkins web
HOPKINS — This bustling bakery outlet is a popular morning destination with customers often lining up on the sidewalk outside. Photo by Linda Koutsky

Hopkins Thrift Bakery

Jerry’s Enterprises is the umbrella organization that owns Jerry’s Foods in Edina along with several other Country Market, Rainbow and Cub stores. They believe in baking their own breads on-site in each store — even if it’s a franchise they own.

Corporate-owned stores usually bake off-premises. That’s why some bakery departments vary from store to store.

Most of the products in this thrift bakery, operated by Jerry’s, have expiration dates near or on the day they reach the outlet. Expect big savings on breads here, including a whole wall of three loaves for $1.75.

There are plenty of sliced breads, baguettes, Jalapeno focaccia and one that my Great Aunts never served — Sauerkraut rye bread. They also carry cakes, pies, caramel rolls, muffins, hot crossed buns, cookies, donuts and a gluten-free section. Baked goods that don’t sell are donated to food shelves.

Open Mon.–Fri., 7 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sat., 7 a.m.–4 p.m.

1812 Mainstreet, Hopkins

TOURIST Country Hearth web
PAN-O-GOLD — This outlet is well aware that people need Minnesota-made toppings for their new breads. Photo by Linda Koutsky


Pan-O-Gold bakes products under the brands Country Hearth, Village Hearth and their newer line, Artisan Hearth.

Leaving the St. Cloud bakery very early in the morning, drivers bring truckloads of baked goods to this central distribution area. Then they’re delivered to schools, restaurants, and grocery stores throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas.

Vendors at both U.S. Bank and Target stadiums use buns from this bakery, as do local Arby’s and Burger King restaurants. The heavily discounted outlet store carries numerous varieties of sliced breads, bagels and a variety of Minnesota jams, honeys and specialty products. Another shopper in the store with me said she’d been buying bread there “for ages.”

Open Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

3200 Ranchview Lane North, Plymouth


My grandmother and great aunts were always good thrift shoppers. They bought their bread on a daily basis. But the shelf stocker in Hopkins told me to double wrap the breads in plastic bags and they’ll keep in the freezer for weeks. Good tip. My freezer’s full. Now I need some peanut butter.


LUNCH TIP: It’s been years since I’ve been to an Arby’s, but knowing their buns were baked in St. Cloud was reason enough to try it again. There’s one just down the road from Pan-O-Gold at 14420 28th Place North, Plymouth.