Since 2011, Tara Allen, owner of Fox and Fawn Bakehouse, has infused her custom cakes and cupcakes with yummy ingredients that include chocolate and sugar, a winning start for any dessert. But Tara adds something different—her vegan offerings are also infused with love, and her passion for the craft.
When her 11-year old daughter Gemma started preschool, Tara and husband Gian Allen left Berkeley for Benicia, where she grew up. The stars aligned (the deciding factor seemingly hinged on the Walnut Creek farmers market rejecting her application, they didn’t see the value in vegan), but the Benicia Farmers Market welcomed her. Eight years and many thousands of cupcakes later, Tara landed the brick and mortar space in which to bake and serve her cupcakes, specialty cakes and ready-to-eat cookie dough in a jar, projected to open this month.
“I wanted it to be a place that we could bake and serve on site. We were very naïve when we took this project on; we had to start from the ground up to make it what we need it to be,” Tara said. “Phil and Celeste Joy (building owners) have been incredibly supportive of me—painting and replacing windows and more.” Construction-savvy friends, along with Gian and Gemma, were also instrumental in transforming the space, as well as her parents, Wayne and Judy Bottini, who own Benicia Floor Company.
In her first week at the Benicia farmers market back in 2011, Tara sold all 100 cupcakes, made from her home kitchen in a single oven. The following week, she sold 200. Soon, she was baking 500 cupcakes each week. All of her cupcakes are fresh-baked the day of the market and always sell out. With a double oven, she now bakes an average of 1200 cupcakes each week.
As a child, Tara learned about baking from Judy. “My mom did a lot of baking but she loved baking pies. She always included me—I never felt like I was in her way or doing something wrong. It was a very positive experience.” From the first farmers market, Judy has helped by frosting each cupcake.
A vegetarian in high school, Tara eventually adopted a vegan diet that she has adhered to for 17 years. “I did it for the health benefits and planet benefits. I was able to give up everything else pretty easily but still craved sweet, baked goods.” Difficulty in finding vegan baked goods, she experimented and created her own, perfecting them into the delectable products she makes now, available online at foxandfawnbakehouse.com, at her new downtown bakery near the waterfront and at the farmers market in front of her shop. After Tara graduated SF State, she had a string of creative jobs, but her priority since Gemma was born “… was, and still is, an at home mom. When Gemma started preschool, I started baking, I needed my own thing.” When she isn’t baking, Tara loves paddleboarding and hiking with family, “… but traveling is number one,” she said.
Tara is frequently asked if she sells at other farmers markets, to which the answer is no. “Benicia has my heart, I’m proud to be part of this community. It’s such a great place. There’s a sea change coming to downtown, it’s a good time to be here.”
Fox and Fawn Bakehouse (opening this month)
305 First Street, Benicia
Facebook – Fox and Fawn