The Honey Health Bread Project

'Bakery counter' photo (c) 2010, The DLC - license: When I was a little girl we’d come to Boston to see my Nana. Seeing Nana meant being spoiled. Coming to Boston meant Maple Leaf Hot Dogs and Honey Health bread. Maple Leaf Hot Dogs are still made today, but I’ve had a hard time finding them. However Honey Health Bread is no more.

Honey Health Bread was made by Hanley’s Bakery on Centre in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. I ended up coming to school in Boston, and convinced a friend with a car to take me to Hanley’s. I called ahead and asked them to hold 10 loaves for me. I think, no, I know they thought I was a crank call. They were shocked when I actually came in to pick up my order. We weren’t back in the car 2 minutes when I had a loaf open and was noshing. It was then that my friend realized I wasn’t completely batshit crazy, just a little carb obsessed. She even agreed the bread was worth the trip.

The crown of the crust is a deep mahogany brown in color and very firm in texture. The inside is a deep carmel color, the crumb is moist with lots of nooks and crannies and the lower crust is softer than then crown. My mouth waters as I type this. The flavor is sweeter than a white bread, but not in an overpowering way. Honey Health Bread made amazing toast, but was equally as good for peanut butter and jelly or tunafish sandwiches.

Isn’t it funny how things are just there until one day they aren’t? Throughout my 17 years living in and around Boston, I made numerous trips to Hanley’s to secure some of the amazing goodness that was Honey Health Bread. Alas, we pulled up stakes and left Mass for the wilds of New Hampshire. Still I knew peripherally that Hanley’s was still there. Until the summer of 2006 when a cousin mentioned in passing that Hanley’s had closed and the deli next door had opened up a new bakery. Comeagainsaywhat?????

Hanley’s closed? Gone was the art deco black and white floor and the sea foam green paint. Gone was the cases full of amazing baked treats, but most importantly, gone was Honey Health Bread. I was bereft. I later heard that the owners retired. I applaud them for a job well done, but what about the bread?

'bread' photo (c) 2010, the second fiddle - license: With help from help from King Arthur Flour and Cammy (yes, the chicken whisperer), I’ve perfected a white bread recipe that incorporates some whole grains while maintaining that white bread flavor that my picky children require.

Now for the real challenge. The time has come to try reproduce Honey Health Bread. By accident, I found a squash bread recipe that had element of HHB’s awesomeness, but it needed some tweaking. I made my first attempt yesterday and it failed with regards to meeting the high standards of Honey Health Bread, and aesthetics (it was very flat), but the taste wasn’t bad. At leas my mistakes are edible.

Through the magic that is the Internet, I have located the former owner of Hanley’s and I have sent him a letter to ask for some guidance. Why? Cuz, that’s how I roll. The worst he could do would be to ignore me. If I get any guidance at all, I’ll be thrilled.

Thus begins, The Honey Health Bread Project. I’ll keep you posted.


9 thoughts on “The Honey Health Bread Project

  1. Lee, I too loved Hanley’s bread…….that honey wheat was the best ever and always looked forward to having it at Nana Sullivan’s house……….nice memories………


  2. I grew up in Cambridge and  used to buy a loaf of bread at Sage’s Market(alas, now gone) in Harvard Square also called honey health bread. Your description is exactly as I remembered  mine….the yummiest bread I have ever had…it was heaven toasted. I have never been able to find it or duplicate the taste so I will be curious to see what you come up with….


    1. Sadly, no. My daughter is now Gluten free and she was the other bread-a-holic in the house. If it’s not white, my son won’t touch it. :(, so I suspect it will be a while before I get a chance to hammer out a recipe.


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