Tag Archives: Virginia Creeper Trail

WildFlour Bakery, Abingdon, VA

WildFlour Bakery, Abingdon, VA

A bunch of aunts and one mom—scratch bakers all—influenced the gal who grew up to run this worthy find in western Virginia.

by Bakery Boy

 

WildFlour Bakery owner Donna McIntyre with some Flax Seed & Sunflower loaves and Cracked Wheat & Sunflower loaves. Photo courtesy of WildFlour Bakery.

Dark, brown, wholesome loaves laced with flax seeds, sunflower seeds, cracked wheat, and other healthy ingredients dominate the bread shelves at WildFlour Bakery in the small town of Abingdon, Virginia. Depending on the season and which fresh fruits are available, the pie rack holds fresh blackberry, peach, blueberry, strawberry-rhubarb, or other selections, plus lemon meringue or pecan year-round. On any given day the sweet aroma of cinnamon buns, scones, bear-claws, chocolate or almond-paste-filled croissants, and big oatmeal cookies tempt all who walk into the showroom.

For all of this we can thank owner Donna McIntyre’s scratch-baker mom and a bevy of scratch-baker aunts. “I’m mainly a self-taught baker, but I was definitely influenced by all the women I grew up watching in our home kitchen in Buffalo, New York,” says Donna, whose family moved south for her father’s job when she was a teenager. “I was just a little kid at the time—I licked the bowl and didn’t do any mixing or oven work—but years later pleasant memories of those days led me to learn more about baking and open my own bakery.”

WildFlour fills the 1896 Campbell House. Photo by Bakery Boy.

Her current WildFlour Bakery opened in 1997 (she had another by the same name in the early 1980s in nearby Bristol, Tennessee). It’s located in the Campbell House, a picturesque 1896 Victorian-style farmhouse built by and named for her husband’s great-grandfather. The bakeshop fills one end of the house. Other rooms hold café tables used for serving lunch sandwiches and salads daily and dinner Wednesday-Saturday. Displays of pottery, paintings, metal sculpture, and other artwork throughout (all for sale) lend the place a gallery atmosphere.

 

Jodi Peterson (left) and Gail Tignor bring infectiously positive attitudes to bread making. Photo courtesy of WildFlour Bakery.

“I love living in this area,” says Donna (nickname: Wild Baker Gal). “Our house is right near the Virginia Creeper Trail, where I like to walk my dogs and ride a bike now and then. We get a steady number of customers heading for the Creeper who want their sandwiches or desserts packed to take as picnics on the trail.There’s also the Barter Theatre [the State Theatre of Virginia] and the Martha Washington Inn [a genteel bastion of Southern hospitality] close by, which bring a lot of people to town who eventually find WildFlour Bakery.The biggest crowds always seem to come during the two weeks of the Virginia Highlands Festival that takes place in late July and early August. That’s also when the arts and crafts in our gallery get the most attention too.”

“WAR BREAD” The name comes from war times past, Donna explains. “During the big wars, key ingredients such as basic wheat flour were in short supply, so people substituted whatever other grains they could find,” she says. “We use a blend of cornmeal, oatmeal, and whole-wheat flour in our War Bread.” Also from the bread oven: Honey-Wheat, Rosemary-Parmesan, Sun-Dried Tomato, Sunflower Cracked Wheat, Rustic Country, Sesame Oat, Sourdough, Beer-Cheddar, Cuban White, and others.

 

Mariah Bowman prepares a variety of WildFlour "bars" for display. Photo by Bakery Boy.

“BARS” WildFlour Bakery makes a variety of treats under the umbrella name bars. “They’re not round like cookies, they’re square but not exactly what you could call brownies, so we call them bars,” Donna says. “Some have multiple layers, like the Holly Bar with a shortbread crust laced with coconut and then topped with layers of raspberries, white chocolate, and dark chocolate. There’s an Almond Amaretto Bar with a pecan pie-like filling and sliced almonds poking out.”

 

Rooms next to the bakery area serve as both cafe and arts-and-crafts gallery. Photo by Bakery Boy.

SLOGAN: “Best Buns in Town” (referring to the cinnamon buns)

LOCATION 24443 Lee Highway, Abingdon, VA 24211,  just off I-81 at Exit 19 in far western Virginia.

HOURS Mon-Tue 7 a.m.-5 p.m., Wed-Sat 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

INFO www.wildflourofabingdon.com or 276-676-4221

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Muffin Man Bakery, Abingdon, VA

Give this former schoolteacher an “A” for his effort to refashion himself as The Muffin Man in this far-western Virginia town.

by Bakery Boy

Photos by Bakery Boy

I give Muffin Man Bakery an honorable mention here mainly because of owner Dean McGraw’s enthusiasm for the role. A longtime educator who taught for 17 years in Abingdon, Virginia schools, Dean took early retirement to be more involved at his church and then, as he says, “sort of backed into this bakery thing.”

“I was already volunteering as a cook on Wednesday nights at a Presbyterian church based at King’s College over in Bristol, Tennessee,” Dean says. “After retiring from teaching I became the food services director there. I started making muffins and really liked that part best, so I opened a little storefront on downtown Abingdon’s Main Street.

Abingdon is home to the famous Barter Theatre, the Southern-style Martha Washington Inn, the bicycle-friendly Virginia Creeper Trail, and other attractions, all of which can build a visitor’s appetite for good muffins. Customers also find doll clothes and greeting cards for sale, handcrafted by Dean’s wife Janet, who painted the place’s cute muffin man logo too.

Dean McGraw

The muffin variety is rather limited compared to other muffin-intensive bakeries, but Dean does a fine job of assuring they are fresh, moist, and chock-full of whatever ingredients he’s working with on any given day. Blueberry, Mixed Berry, Apricot, and Almond Muffins are favorites he keeps in heavy rotation. He also makes Sausage Ball Muffins, an oddity that started during his church-kitchen period and remains on the menu due to popular demand locally.

“I do this because I love it,” says Dean, who was sitting reading a novel the quiet summer day Bakery Boy dropped in near closing time to buy his dwindling supply of muffins as fortification for a pending backpacking hike on the nearby Appalachian Trail. “I don’t do this to make a lot of money, just to make good muffins and to make people happy.”

 

Dean's daughter Angela, now a teacher, made this tribute to her muffin-making dad.

LOCATION 284 West Main Street, Abingdon, VA 24210. From I-81 Exit 17 go north on Cummings Street, turn left on Main, go two blocks and see it on the left.

HOURS Mon-Sat 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; the website has the hours wrong, but an update is expected whenever Dean’s tech-savvy daughter gets around to it.

INFO www.muffinmanbakery.com or 276-619-0037