The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I need help reproducing a bread recipe

laughlinl's picture

I need help reproducing a bread recipe

Hi All,


I am on a quest. 

When I was a kid, a visit to Nana's house meant Honey Health Bread from Hanely's Bakery in West Roxbury, MA.  Hanley's has since closed and I'm trying to replicate the bread.

I'm happy to tinker and fuss (and eat my mistakes), but I could use some help from your collective wisdom.

The bread was carmel brown on the inside.  The top crust was smooth, but usually much darker than the sides or the bottom.  Through experimentation I have discovered that it was sweetened with molasses. I need help with the texture.  The bread was moist and spongy with lots of little holes (nooks and crannies). I realize this is a vague request, but what do I need to add to a bread recipe to achieve that texture?  Lots of yeast? Eggs? Baking Soda? I've never had another bread like it, so I can't even cannibalize another recipe.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.  I anticipate this will be a bit of a process, but once I get the kinks worked out I'll happily share my recipe. 



enaid's picture


  1. - 
    This site has lots of recipes for healthy honey bread. You may find what you are looking for there.


laughlinl's picture

LOL. Oh, I make no claims as to how "healthy" Honey Health bread really was, but I'll Look at the link.  Thanks!

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Some ideas,

Try making your bread with an overnight poolish. There are  recipies on this site for honey and wholemeal or could be honey and wheat bread, I'm not sure.

Also for your "nooks and crannies" holes look up ciabatta bread. It is a wet dough when it comes together but you may be able to adjust the recipe for a slightly dryer dough making it easier to handle for a sandwich loaf pan. Ciabatta is known for it's air pockets and might give you what you are looking for.

I'm no expert, only a raw novice thats prepared to experiment. These are just some ideas that come to mind that may get you going in the right direction. Being an old recipe you will have a lot of fun experimenting till you find that "taste".

The caramel brown color would certainly come from the molasses. Using a wholemeal flour would go towards the color as well.

All 3 suggestions can be searched for on this site.............

Have fun and good luck.........Pete

deblacksmith's picture

Like Aussie Pete,  Start with a poolish of about 25 to 30 percent of the total flour, a small amount of yeast and 80 to 100 percent hydration.  (Start the night before).

Then I would use white bread flour, whole eggs, scalded milk, butter and your molasses.  Yeast and salt at normal amounts.  You might try some whole wheat flour, most likely less that 25 percent of the total flour.  Go for a higher hydration than normal, say in the low 70's.  If it is not moist enough then add about 5 percent potato flour, on your next try.

The dough will be a bit hard to work with -- seems too sticky -- but will work fine if you use a number of rests of 20 to 30 minutes and do a stretch and fold.

Keep good notes.




spangle_17's picture

I visited my Gram in West Roxbury as a child and Honey Health Bread was a favorite.  Have you had any luck reproducing the recipe?  Thanks.

laughlinl's picture



Sorry, no I haven't, but if you come up with something let me know.



etherealfred's picture

How is your quest going? I'm on the same one. The 'Honey Health Bread' you described is exactly how I remember it from Henry's Bakery in Belmont, MA. Of course they're long gone too. But I NEED that recipe. There is no other bread with that consistancy and texure and flavor anywhere. And if a few slices somehow make it to Day 3... Fabulous toast too.

Thanks, Fred


laughlinl's picture



I have not found a suitable solution yet.

The rest of this year is crazy, so it is actually on my new years resolutions list :)

Please post here is you find a good recipe.



paulm's picture

I don't know if this is what you're looking for but I found this on a blog at TasteOfHome

2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. rye flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. honey
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
In large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until the ingredients are just combined.

Pour the batter into a well greased 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Freezes well. Can double the recipe. Low calorie.


2nynbak's picture

Laughling,     I grew up in West Roxbury and loved all things Hanley's.  I have stumbled upon making their Honey Health bread several years ago as a lesss experienced bread baker.  I never use recipes or write them down but I have a pretty good memory for how HHB happened in my kitchen.  I was trying to make Oatmeal bread as my Grandmother made it.  I would agree with what has been stated here already that a Biga or Poolish overnight will make the damp chewy bread with uniformly large holes.  I would use bread flour 3 to 1 to oatmeal precooked for a few minutes and cooled.  Molassas is what gives it the color and slight tang try a couple of tablespoons.  Mix the molassas in all check the color knowing it will darken somewhat during the baking.  This bread will rise a lot so do not over fill the small tins and grease them well.  Don't forget some salt too and if you overnight the dough in the fridge it will tend to be better and same day baking.  Remember the texture of their bread was chewy and damp so don't go with too dry of dough.  I should add that I also used scalded milk and a lump of shortening in this bread.


toniandres's picture

My grandmother lived in West Roxbury and I too remember the wonderfulHanley's  health bread that our whole family would stock up on whenever anyone went to visit her.  My uncle would buy dozens of loaves and freeze them.  This was the best bread ever!  It was great for toasting and had a marvelous flavor.  If anyone finds this recipe, please let me know.  I would love to make it for my family for Christmas.  It would remind us all of happy times with my grandmother.  Thanks!

cw12345's picture

Hi! I found this site after a Google search.

I used to go to Hanley's as a child.  I loved the sugar cookies shaped like stars with colored sprinkles on top-they used to give them to kids for free while we waited for our order to be processed.  I know this is a bread site but does anyone have the recipe??