If you’ve already heard about Honeycomb, you aren’t alone. This Hamilton bakery and café opened its doors on a summer day in July and from that day forward, visitors were lining up to see what the hype was all about, and were quickly coming back for more. It’s hard to blame them; the building itself beckons, and the interior boasts a shiplap wall and honeycomb-shaped tiles that artfully climb the front counter. Simply put, once you walk through the doors and into baked goods mecca, there’s no way you’re turning back. From hardwood floors to cozy chairs and tables, places to sit and enjoy a latte and a sweet treat, it would take substantial effort to come up with something not to like about this place. Talented owner and chef? Check. Amazing aromas of baked goodness? Check. Music played at just the right volume for a café? Beer? Wine? Cheese? Locally sourced homewares and other items? Check them all off.
Honeycomb owes its existence to chef and owner Lauren (formerly Kroesser) Moran, a graduate of Boston University’s culinary program who studied under Jacques Pepin and was formerly the executive pastry chef at Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks, as well as working at The Hotel Commonwealth and Island Creek Oyster Bar, among other places. Moran says her passion for baking began at a young age, and notes that she was influenced and inspired by many well-known chefs including Ming Tsai, Julia Child, and Sara Moulton. She always loved watching cooking shows, and it was during college when she found herself turning to baking time and time again, that she first thought about branching away from the liberal arts track she had planned for. Always wanting to pay it forward, Moran now teaches a class in pastry plating at BU’s School of Hospitality Administration, which provides a chance for her to inspire a whole new generation of chefs.
Despite sitting for this interview within a couple of weeks of Honeycomb’s opening, Moran was cool and collected, two things that can only happen when someone is truly living out a passion. And while a lot of planning and organization went into making Honeycomb a reality, Moran’s ability to think on her feet has also served her well. It was on one of the bakery’s first days open, as long lines of hungry patrons streamed through the door, that Moran realized she needed an efficient and effective way to let people know which bakery items were available and which were sold out for the day. She quickly transformed a roll of paper mounted to the wall into an “86 list” that noted all of the day’s baked goods, with sold-out items getting an “86” over them once the last one was gone.
Bakery items are made on-site every morning and change daily, although Moran does have several favorites that are regulars on the menu. Some items you’re likely to see include a variety of cookies, double fudge brownies, tartlets, lemon bars, macarons, honey buns, and salted honey bars, the recipe for which Moran has shared with us here. Saturday and Sunday customers have the option of ordering their weekends-only cinnamon rolls and donuts. Get there early in the day and you might also be lucky enough to taste Honeycomb’s shortbread, made from a family recipe passed down from Moran’s grandmother. If you’re more of a savory person, Honeycomb has a mouthwatering menu of breakfast sandwiches, all made with free-range organic eggs and served on either a bagel or buttermilk biscuit. The menu also has tartines, sandwiches, soups, and salads. The bakery makes all of their own breads and will soon offer the option of pre-ordering cakes and pies.
Their retail area offers a rotating selection of goods, including locally sourced honey, tea towels, and pottery. Keeping product offerings local is something that is important to Moran, who grew up in the area and feels a real connection to the community. While Honeycomb is very much the product of her dream and hard work, she is quick to give credit to her family, including her husband and partner Billy, who is no stranger to the food business himself; his family’s bar, Cornwall’s Tavern, has been frequented by many a Bostonian.
Moran named the bakery in hopes that it would very much function like a community beehive.
She also drew inspiration from the ingredient of honey itself, “which is a beautiful, natural product” and features prominently in several of the bakery’s recipes. Most bees are busy and the space Moran has created isn’t any different. This hive is sure to be churning out original baked goods for many years to come.
Honeycomb’s Salted Honey Bars
Yield: 1 half sheet
> 6 oz. butter, melted
> 1 cup sugar
> 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla paste
> 1 1/2 Tbsp. cornmeal
> 3/4 tsp. salt
> 1 1/4 cups honey
> 5 eggs
> 3/4 cup heavy cream
> 1 Tbsp white vinegar
1. Combine the melted butter with the sugar, vanilla paste, cornmeal, and salt.
2. Whisk in the honey and eggs, and then the heavy cream and vinegar.
3. Pour into a par-baked pate sucrée crust (sugar cookie dough) and bake at 325 degrees until the custard is set and the crust is golden brown.
4. Refrigerate to set, and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.
248 Bay Rd., Hamilton