Blue Plate Special: Hager's Farm Market
Special to The Recorder
By mid-morning, Hager’s Farm Market was bustling. Nestled in front of an orchard on Route 2 in Shelburne, the market is a busy store-cum-restaurant run by an equally busy family.
Manager Kim Hager Stevens and her sister, Stacy Hager Boron, juggled cooking and parenthood as I talked to them in the market’s efficient but small kitchen. The sisters know how to negotiate around each other in the narrow rectangular space and are just short enough to avoid the pots and kitchen tools hanging from the ceiling.
“My husband is almost six foot two, and he doesn’t come in here,” Stevens told me with an upward glance.
After seeing Boron’s 3-year-old son Jack off to pick apples with his grandmother (armed with a chocolate-covered doughnut half the size of his face), Boron piped cream-cheese frosting on top of pumpkin-spice cupcakes while Stevens threw together a pancake sandwich on the grill.
The sandwich consists of two sizeable pancakes filled with the Hager family’s signature maple cream and sausage or bacon.
I asked how the Hagers happened to open the farm stand in 2009 on the property, which formerly housed Mohawk Orchards.
“Originally our intention was to provide a retail market for our maple syrup and baked goods,” said Kim Stevens.
“It got bigger,” she added with a wry smile.
An expansion of the farm stand in 2010 added more retail space as well as a much larger kitchen. It was at that point that the enterprising family decided to start serving meals instead of just ice cream and baked goods.
Today they provide breakfast and lunch to customers. They also cater, making boxed lunches for business meetings and dessert bars and cupcake towers for weddings, baby showers, and other celebrations.
Their fare relies heavily on the Hagers’ and other local farmers’ agricultural products, as well as the breads and other baked goods that matriarch Sherry Hager has made for years.
The family members work hard but have been rewarded for that work. “It’s wonderful how sincere people are about purchasing local foods,” Stacy Boron told me.
“We’ve had tremendous support from the community,” added her sister.
And the Hagers give back to the community that sustains them. The upcoming Pumpkin Smash (scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 2) will raise money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and local 4-H Clubs.
At this event, organized with WPVQ radio station, community members are invited to pay $1 to watch their leftover Halloween pumpkins drop from a scissor lift onto a target. The person whose pumpkin pieces fly farthest outside the target will receive $200.
In addition to watching the pumpkin mayhem, visitors that day will be offered the opportunity to sample fare from the market’s vendors — and to purchase the Hagers’ sinful fried dough with maple cream.
Of course, the pumpkin-spice cupcakes Stacy Boron made for photographer Paul Franz and me will be available as well, along with many of the baked goods popular at the farm market: whoopie pies, cinnamon rolls, chocolate-fudge oatmeal buns and pie squares.
Here’s the recipe:
STACY’S PUMPKIN SPICE CUPCAKES
Makes 24 cupcakes
for the cupcakes:
21∕4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1∕2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1∕2 teaspoon ground ginger
1∕2 teaspoon ground cloves
1∕2 teaspoon ground allspice
1∕2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1∕2 teaspoon baking soda
1∕2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1∕3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
3∕4 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
for the cinnamon cream-cheese frosting:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1∕4 cup (1∕2 stick) butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Begin with the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease 24 muffin cups or line them with paper muffin liners. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
In a large bowl beat together the butter, the white sugar, and the brown sugar with an electric mixer until they are light and fluffy. The mixture should lighten noticeably in color. Add the eggs one at a time, allowing the first egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the second. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree; then stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
Bake until the cupcakes are golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pans for 5 minutes before removing them to cool completely on a wire rack.
While the cupcakes are cooling, begin the frosting by beating the cream cheese and the butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar a little at a time until it is fully incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and cinnamon; beat until fluffy. Once the cupcakes are cool, frost them with the cream cheese frosting.