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I want to recreate a bread that we used to eat when I was a kid. The bakery is out of business (as of about 2 years ago), so I can't ask them for a recipe. It was called "Honey Wheat" bread, or perhaps (in later years) "Honey Health" bread. I've found recipes for those, and they sound similar, but the pictures say they're not. Here are the main differences between, say, this recipe:

https://www.tastesoflizzyt.com/honey-wheat-bread/

and what I'm looking for are

  1. Darker color. Ohlin's bread was sweet and had a color close to caramel. Not dark brown like pumpernickel, but not light brown either. Somewhere between the color of light-brown and dark-brown sugar, probably on the dark-brown end of things.

  2. More open texture: the holes in Ohlin's bread were more of a shape and distribution like those in an English muffin.

  3. Chewier. This bread had a chewiness that was about halfway between commercial whole-wheat bread and a good bagel.

  4. Shinier. When you cut the bread, the surface of the "bubbles" in it appeared a little bit shiny. (OK, I could be mis-remembering here...I last ate this bread over 50 years ago!)

I'm not expecting that anyone can say "Oh, HERE's how you make that," but if someone could provide guidance on how one alters a bread recipe to get a more open texture, to get more chewiness, etc., I can make 8 or 10 or 20 loaves to home in on the qualities I remember.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give. (Alternatively, if there's a good general reference on how to do this kind of thing, I'd be happy to read up on it without someone re-typing it all!)

  • Welcome to Seasoned Advice SE. :) Recipe swapping is "off-topic", but I feel like you are more focused on the technique(s) necessary to get a darker, chewier loaf ... It will be interesting to see what might help produce the texture you are looking for. – elbrant Jan 27 at 5:11
  • Yes, you've got it exactly. For almost any bread I like, I can find a recipe and follow it... but understanding what alterations make a recipe do something different --- that's a whole different question. Something like the wonderful sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/12/…, but for bread...*that's* what I'm looking for. – John Jan 27 at 13:07
  • Consider asking the property owner for the name/address of the baker. As contacting the baker may give you more information than just a formula. – Optionparty Jan 27 at 16:10
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Adding molasses or brown sugar will add a brown color to the dough, how much to add is a bit of a trick to get right, but it should be proportional to the amount of sugar in the dough. Most 1 lb recipes I have from American sources use about 1/3 cup of molasses.

The shine might well be additional gluten added to increase the chew (two with one stone perhaps!), but it could also be extra oil.

Bigger bubbles might indicate a damper dough with a higher yeast content or even possibly the addition of a second raising agent (e.g. baking powder). It could also indicate a higher baking temperature. You might want to check out focaccia recipes - these usually have a light airy crumb.

With commercial baked products it is difficult to know exactly what is going on as they have it all worked out for rapid and consistent mass production, rather than single batches.

  • Thanks -- those are exactly the kinds of pointers I was looking for. I think molasses might be wrong -- it's got a pretty distinctive flavor, which I like and would recognize if it had been in there. Perhaps some dark karo syrup in place of some sugar might help, though. The focaccia is a nice idea -- you're exactly on the right track for the kind of airy-ness that I'm after. Why do I have the feeling that in a week my wife's gonna be saying "Honey, PLEASE stop baking bread!"? – John Jan 27 at 3:15
  • I would be looking for ingredients that are cheap, the cheaper the better from a commercial perspective. I wouldn't be terribly surprised to find that they have added a coloring agent or two for "appeal" if it is a commercial loaf (like say "wonder bread", if you can call it bread) - though if it was your local baker (e.g. more cafe style), then this is less likely. My wife and children rarely complain when I bake bread, unfortunately a rarity these days. – bob1 Jan 27 at 3:33
  • @John--I'm pretty sure I know the exact bread you're talking about... Though I'm more familiar with the donuts from Ohlin's. I think Bob's answer is pretty spot on. You need to increase gluten and have a pretty wet dough, and you'll be headed in the right direction. – AMtwo Jan 27 at 8:52
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"Ohlin" is a Swedish name and you may be looking for something akin to Swedish 'sirapslimpa' - literally syrup-loaf. Does this look familiar?

It's a fairly large category of bread, but it may point you in the right direction. (Common traits include using some rye, and a lot of 'sirap', something in between molasses and golden syrup.)

  • Thanks --- that's a great pointer. I looked at about 200 pictures of siraslimpa, and this one -- flickr.com/photos/paindemartin/4462194460 -- actually bore some resemblance to what I'm thinking of ... and better still, its title seems to encode the ingredient list! Further updates if this (or something like it) pans out. – John Jan 28 at 12:16
  • That is an odd recipe, with all rye and no wheat. (And some coffee for colour and flavour.) By all means, give it a try, though! But I think that a commercially sold bread is more likely to have some wheat in it. – Popup Jan 29 at 15:46
  • I tried it (to be honest, I tried a half-recipe, which led to problems with my mixer being barely able to reach the ingredients, etc...live and learn!) and with 20 min baking at 400 got an 8" disk about 3/4" tall; when I cut biscotti-shaped slices from it, it turned out to have a quite crunchy top and bottom, and a soft and nicely-baked middle. I was slightly disappointed; my wife raved, and said "THIS is what we have to make to serve with gravlax!" Either way, it didn't look like the picture...but the bread in the pic was clearly cooked in a loaf pan, while I just cooked mine on a sheet. Doh! – John Jan 29 at 15:50

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