Bacon is the new black.
These days, it seems like you can find bacon on most everything. And for good reason. The underbelly of swine imparts an almost unmatched textural and flavorful punch to whatever it's paired with, whether that something is a cheeseburger or a doughnut.
Which is exactly why Kirk Heppler, owner of The Dough Nut, puts a hearty slice of crisp bacon on his fresh and fluffy maple bars, one of his favorite yeast-raised doughnuts and one of his most popular.The gourmet and exotic offerings of Voodoo Doughnut in Portland helped pave the way for a new breed of this treat; one that is made fresh daily and sports nontraditional toppings and combinations, such as Fruity Pebbles, marshmallows and peanut butter, for instance. Heppler was not hip to Voodoo when he started making doughnuts in 2005, surprising, given that he graduated from the Portland Culinary Institute and has been working in the restaurant business for the last 12 years.
Heppler's creations do fill a void in Bend's culinary scene. Sure, you can get a doughnut from Safeway or 7-11, but who and what made that thing? And you know you don't want to know what went into making it. There are and have been other purveyors of the delicious cousin-to-the-bagel here in Bend, but there are no doughnut-focused vendors on the westside of town where Heppler operates from, currently slinging his hole-y creations from a window on the south side of Parrilla Grill's building.
The bacon maple bar isn't the only far-out creation at The Dough Nut. Heppler says another local favorite is the PB&J doughnut, which has a peanut butter frosting and jelly-filled interior.
"The peanut butter and jelly one is pretty off the hook," Heppler allows.
The pistachio doughnut, though, with its pistachio-almond frosting is one of Heppler's darlings, as are the banana rum buttermilk bar and the apple fritter. All of The Dough Nut's yeast-raised doughnuts are vegan, and also take about twice as long to make, Heppler notes.
"I like the creativity of it all," he says, before outlining for me in detail his savory doughnut, one whose ingredient list reads like something out of Julia Child recipe book. The garlic herb, Morrison cheese, sun-dried tomato doughnut boasts a prosciutto topping with a balsamic reduction glaze.
Aside from making delectable, fresh treats, Heppler is also a nice guy. The Dough Nut regularly donates day-old doughnuts to the Shepherd's House and the he's also made pink frosted doughnuts with the signature bow that were meant to promote breast cancer awareness. Heppler donated 100 percent of the proceeds raised to the cause.
"I've always been a firm believer that if you give to the community, then the community will give back," Heppler says. He's also quick to note all of the support he's received from Jackson's Corner, where he first started baking, and from Parrilla.
Heppler, who now does his baking in a commissary on the eastside of town before adding the glazes and toppings at his shared Parrilla location, hopes to one day own his own bakery. But for now, the doughnut peddler is happy to be on his own.
"Being my own boss, I'm pretty pumped on that."
And when you are your own boss, you can put bacon on whatever you damn well want.
The Dough Nut
635 NW 14th St (at Parrilla Grill)
Tuesday-Saturday, 8am-sold out