Josna Rege

362. Henion’s

In blogs and blogging, Food, places, Stories, United States, writing on April 9, 2016 at 9:09 pm

Henion

Blogging from A to Z
  Theme: Bringing Me Joy

HThe Henion Bakery has been in business in our little town for 22 years ago now. I can’t imagine that they need to advertise because if you have been there once, you talk about it to everyone you know. My cousins were visiting from India last year and I thought I had shown them all the local sights, until they asked whether we could pay a visit to Henion’s, since the last family visitors had returned home raving about it. Of course we did, and no one was disappointed.

Henion’s opened just as I was in the final crunch of writing my doctoral dissertation. Not that I was even close to done, but time was running out for me to get it done. During those sleepless nights and stressful days, Henion’s saw me through. When I told co-proprietor David Henion—Barbara Kline is his partner—that his jam doughnuts were the bright spot in my life, he looked quite alarmed at my vehemence, as if he wasn’t sure whether he should be worrying about my state of mind. But I was quite serious, and if I was overwrought, then I had an antidote. Stopping in at Henion’s for a hot cup of tea and a jam doughnut fresh out of the oven made time stand still and all my work and worries melt away.

doughnut+I have mentioned before (TMA #41, Eating for Four) that you must put Dunkin Donuts right out of your mind when you try to imagine a doughnut from the Henion Bakery. This is the real thing. It is doughy rather than spongy, giving you something substantial to sink your teeth into, filled with fresh raspberry jam, and rolled in crumbly sugar.

But Henion’s is by no means just a doughnut shop. The pastries are to die for, and besides the regulars and favorites, they vary by season. They make rugelach and babka, poppy seed slices and Russian tea loaf, sticky rolls and Danish, croissants and brioche. There are fruit tarts with custard, lemon squares, delicate heart-shaped confections for Valentine’s Day and Hot Cross Buns that I order in bulk for Good Friday (see TMA #182). At Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas, every kind of pie can be ordered, including mince and pecan pies. My focus on the doughnuts tends to make me forget their cakes, each one a work of art.

loavesHenion

And the bread! It’s a bakery, of course, and carries everything under the sun, plus Challah on Friday. For a time I had a standing order for a weekly loaf of Anadama bread which, if I went in early enough to pick up, would still be warm. There’s tea and coffee, David’s pottery for sale on the shelves, exhibits by local artists on the walls, and half a dozen small tables with the daily papers out on them. There’s an ancient bread-slicing machine that makes a godawful racket, but it is all part of the charm of this happening place where it seems that everyone in town, including the mailman, stops in regularly for an extended chat.

When Andrew and I went into Henion’s today, they washed one of David’s tiles for me to display their doughnut on.

doughnutcloseup

The Henion Bakery brings me joy.

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  1. Ufffff!!! Have a nice Italian bakery near our house but your doughnut description is just cruel.

  2. Wish I could pop around there this morning. sounds wonderful!

    • Maybe one day you’ll make a pilgrimage to the place of your birth, and then you can visit me–and Henion’s as well.

  3. I’m really enjoying these local posts. I had no idea when I started following TMA that you were based in the Pioneer Valley (found your blog when researching how to tie a sari and post 154 came up on google). I was an undergrad at MHC, and spent quite a bit of time in Amherst and elsewhere in Western Mass in the early 2000’s. The bookstores and bakery are not places I could have named, but reading your post brings back a flood of memories. Thank you.

    • Thanks so much for writing, Sarah. Now I can visit your blog too. Yes, in the past I have been a bit reticent to name my exact geographical location, but I guess I’ve done so now! I was just at MHC last month, when Jhumpa Lahiri came to campus. Glad these recent posts are sparking memories of your own. Warm wishes, J

  4. Oh yum- want to go there right now!!!

  5. Just discovered your blog from the A-Z Challenge. What a unique and interesting site!

    A-Z Challenge Dark History Blg no 1169

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