Today, the country is celebrating arguably one of the most important holidays of the year. While it isn’t a Hallmark calendar holiday *yet,* foodies around the nation are loosing their belt loops and lining up for National Donut Day! Tons of bakeries and donut shops are celebrating by offering a free doughnut with your purchase of a coffee or beverage…DONUT mind if I do!
I collaborated with the team at Harvest Bakery in Bristol, a staple bakery that has been around since 1914, to get a peak at what makes this sweet, fried confection so beloved by customers. Harvest Bakery has been passed down between several generations and is currently owned by brother-sister duo, Paul Dinoia and Karen Nocera. While they are known for their hard rolls and bread, all of their baked goods are made fresh EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Harvest Bakery sells 12 classic flavors of doughnuts including Sprinkle Ring, Chocolate Frosted Ring, Crullers, Boston Creme, Jelly Filled, and my personal favorite, the Reverse Boston Creme. The audience is an older crowd, as Harvest has been rolling out dough for over seven decades. Because it is partially family run, there is a warm, inviting, and no-fuss environment. The pastries are decadent yet familiar and always leave you wanting more- which is why the owners have now started noticing younger generations (like myself!) popping in for their fix as well. Read below for a short Q&A interview with Karen Nocera, co-owner of Harvest Bakery!
Q&A with Karen Nocera, co-owner of Harvest Bakery:
- How many doughnuts do you sell in a day?: “On a weekend, somewhere between 55-57 dozen.”
- How many flavors do you offer?: 12
- Is there anything you would never put in a doughnut?: “No, no…we’re open to suggestions. We used to do a Cannoli doughnut that was really popular but it took a while because you had to stuff each doughnut by hand.”
- Most popular type of doughnut?: “The most popular top is either the plain cruller or the Boston crème…probably the Boston Crème first and then the plain cruller. On the weekends, we go through a ton of ring donuts.”
- Personal favorite?: “The cinnamon cruller…with the new cinnamon sugar.”
- What is your earliest memory of baking, or just being around tons of baked goods?: “Well we just bought this a year ago but I used to come around here when I was maybe 10 or 12 with my aunt in the back and work in the back with her, so that is probably my earliest memory.”
- What do you think sets Harvest Bakery apart from other bakeries in the area?: “Just because it is freshly made every single day. Every day we make the doughnuts, we make everything. The bakers are here pretty much 24 hours…the earliest baker comes in at 7:30pm and then continues through the night. The bakery is really only empty from 6-7:30pm, that’s the only downtime here. The earliest baker then leaves around 3 or 4 am.”
- Harvest Bakery is a traditional, old-fashioned bakery…how do you feel about all of the crazy innovations happening in the food industry today?: “I think it’s fun, I think they’re passing fads. We try to do a little bit of that but we don’t take away the older things that make this a traditional bakery. I think they’re good…we had unicorn bagels a week ago. They weren’t a huge hit but they were fun. We have a lot of older customers, but we’ve started to get newer customers too. We’ve been on Facebook and Instagram so that has helped.”
- As the torch has been passed between many generations, has anything changed about Harvest Bakery?: “We definitely try to hold onto the recipes for the breads and rolls. Those recipes have not changed at all- the Rye bread is a staple and the hard rolls are what Harvest is known for. We’ve really held on to that.”
- Anything else you’d like to add?: “We’re just having fun and hopefully everyone comes in and enjoys it. It’s a fun place to be. We’ve added some things but I think we’ll keep the traditional stuff, like the Cherry Nut Rolls…those are just so old fashioned and people really like them. Believe it or not, those are really big sellers. We’ve added cheesecake brownies, bigger muffins and more variety of muffins, we’ve added more cupcakes too. We try to do different flavors of cupcakes for each season, so for summer we’ll do a lemon-blueberry muffin, probably something with raspberry or watermelon. For winter, we do the mint which we’ll start to phase out for summer but that was really popular. The chocolate peanut butter ganache is a big hit, I don’t think we’ll make that one seasonal.”
Thanks to Karen, Paul, and the entire team at Harvest Bakery for hosting me!