Every other Saturday morning, bread lovers wind through the cattle-dotted Shenandoah Valley to Season’s Yield Farm for “Bread Day” at the farm, bakery, and home of Daniel and Fawn Shear in Raphine, Virginia. Since the couple launched the bread-centric community gathering event last January, it has started drawing crowds of up to four hundred. The grab-and-chat lineup includes croissants, apple galettes, wild-leavened sourdough bread, and a new sourdough pumpkin spice bagel.
Daniel Shear became interested in baking when his wife, Fawn, sent him Chad Roberton’s Tartine Bread cookbook while he was deployed in Afghanistan in 2012. “I read this book as a coping mechanism and to separate myself from the situation,” he says. Upon his return, the couple pursued an agrarian lifestyle, starting out with a garden, pigs, milk goats, and chickens.
“I was baking consistently while Fawn and I were farming and providing produce for over twenty families, and the bread is what really took off,” Daniel says. “I saw wood-fired baking, along with an aspect of togetherness during Bread Day, as something that was unique and needed in our community.” Now guests are welcome to linger over that pumpkin spice bagel, coffee in hand. “This place is beautiful, and we wanted to share it with everyone.”
Bagels are a recent addition to Season’s Yield: After Fawn brought home bagels this fall, the natural baker in Daniel kicked into gear (“He’s offended when I buy bread,” Fawn says with a laugh.) The following week, Daniel prepared more than four hundred bagels. The pumpkin spice version gets a sprinkling of brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. In the oven, the toppings brown and caramelize for a sweet, nutty flavor. Daniel enjoys finishing off the bagel with hand-whipped cinnamon and maple cream cheese.
The Shears dreamed up the sourdough pumpkin spice bagel as a user-friendly recipe inspired by their popular spice croissants. Daniel highly recommends the exactness of a scale for the best bagel results, and he measures in grams. “A standard countertop mixer can handle a double batch of this recipe.” (Note: Even if you don’t make the bagels, add the simple spiced Cinnamon Cream Cheese mixture to your weekend breakfast lineup. Recipe below.)