Donut Day: ‘share little bits of happiness’

Donut Day: ‘share little bits of happiness’By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

Graduation season is dying down, and Father’s Day is close on its heels. But in the flurry of transitioning from the academic year into summer, it’s easy to overlook National Doughnut Day – which falls on Friday, June 5, this year.

While sometimes chalked up to be another parodic holiday like “Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day” or “Pi Day” — Doughnut Day actually originated in 1930s Chicago to honor Salvation Army members who travelled overseas and served doughnuts to soldiers during WWI.

For those looking to partake in the annual observance — one local option is HerBotanical Bakery, where proprietor Priscilla Tarin and her daughter Robin Pretto serve up one-of-a-kind, homemade baked goods. And that includes doughnuts.

While COVID-19 closures have hampered the bakery’s ability to operate at full capacity, Tarin says she supports the precautions.

“We feel it’s very necessary,” she said. “We’ve had three family members who tested positive for it.”

Tarin’s daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, who live in Bakersfield, all tested positive. While one grandchild recovered and the other was asymptomatic, her daughter-in-law was hospitalized for 40 days, 20 of which were spent on a ventilator.

“She has a long road to recovery ahead of her,” said Tarin. “This is real and it’s affecting everybody differently.”

With COVID-19 hitting so close to home, Tarin has been sheltering at home and hasn’t had contact with any of her Bakersfield or Ridgecrest family, with the exception of her baking partner, for months.

“Everyone is trying to protect me since I am in the over-65 age group,” said Tarin. “We definitely look forward to getting back to normal, but understand the importance of taking it slow.”

So the HerBotanical duo are wearing masks and gloves and doing their best to continue the operation as hygienically as possible. The bakery is offering limited-contact curbside service, but due to supply shortages, the bakery is currently short on stock and is limited to custom orders.

“Our most unique doughnut so far is the hibiscus-lime I think,” said Tarin. “We’ll be getting back into those. The weather is warming up and that’s kind of a summery doughnut. And it’s our favorite.”

Other popular baked doughnuts are chocolate chip with espresso glaze and their cinnamon-sugar doughnuts.

“We get requests for the cinnamon-sugar all the time,” she said. “The secret is we use two different types of cinnamon … but I don’t want to give away too much.”

But doughnuts are also only a small portion of what the bakery offers. HerBotanical Bakery bakes custom cakes, cookies, sticky buns and more.

“Our signature cupcake – honey lavender – is one of our most popular products, as well as our lemon-lavender scone,” said Tarin.

The bakery also offers monthly giveaways. While the company had to skip April it returned in May with a honey lavender cake adorned with blue butterflies – inspired by the latest musical release of Tarin’s daughter, Alas de Liona Tarin.

Alas, still on lockdown in Scotland, released her single “Descendants” earlier this month. Her mother said that Alas is also responsible for the bakery’s moniker.

“We wanted to use flower and spice and herb references,” said Tarin. “I use ‘Flours and Herbs’ for my personal Instagram. We also wanted to point out it was an all-woman operation, which is were the ‘Her’ came from. Alas just strung all the ideas together and came up with ‘HerBotanical.’”

Tarin said has been baking since she was a young girl growing up in Stockton.

“I used to help my grandma bake for people in the neighborhood,” said Tarin. “We had some shut-ins, some elderly people who didn’t get out, that we brought baked goods to.”

Tarin and her daughter Robin have been baking together for years.

“We both just really enjoy baking,” said Tarin. “People have told us how good our cakes are and said ‘oh my gosh – you guys should open a bakery.’ So we did.”

Tarin said she acquired a business license to operate out of her house, but it was actually the unexpected death of her son two years ago that was the catalyst to make HerBotanical Bakery what it is today.

“We feel that our little business saved our lives,” said Tarin. “Not to sound too melodramatic, but we needed something to focus on. And every day we got to make people happy. Seeing our customers and how happy and satisfied they were really helped get us through the worst time of our lives.”

Tarin said that she’s tried to write about her son’s passing and its relationship to the foundation of her business. But that putting it into words has been difficult.

“I don’t even think I’ve been able to say it out loud until recently,” she said. “It just feels like it’s important to put it out there. Especially given what happened with my daughter-in-law.

“There were days when we were preparing for her not to make it. There are so many people in similar situations, and I think it’s important to put your energy into something positive and to create something of value. It seems kind of lightweight to say ‘I bake things.’ But seeing how happy it makes people and knowing that we can help them celebrate whatever it is they’re celebrating – it really is so healing for us.

“Starting this business helped us grieve, but also to function on a daily basis. It provided a way for me to stay strong for my family and to share little bits of happiness here and there.”

Patrons can view galleries of baked creations on Facebook (facebook.com/HerBotanicalBakery) and HerBotanical Bakery’s website, found at herbotanicalbakery.com.

Orders can be placed on Facebook or by calling or texting the bakery at 760-608-3734.

Pictured: Some of the original concoctions of HerBotanicalBakery. — Courtesy photos

Story First Published: 2020-05-29