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Bread and Honey is in the retail strip that includes Duke's Barbershop on Madison Ave between Ontario and Quail.

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Bins of bagel toppings.

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A test batch of kaiser rolls proofing.

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A test batch of soft pretzels.

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The kettle for boiling bagels and pretzels.

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Naomi Davies

Bread and Honey

bread and honey kitchen

Like anyone else, Naomi Davies had a handful of reason for making a career switch. But, really, the choice boiled down to one important reason: "I was craving a great bagel."

So she's opening a new bakery -- Bread and Honey -- on Madison Ave in Albany's Pine Hills neighborhood.

There are large-format photos above -- click or scroll all the way up.

The background

naomi davies
Naomi Davies

OK, but first, let's jump back a bit. Davies -- pronounced like "Davis" -- is originally from Birmingham, England. She came to the US about three decades ago to be a dancer in Manhattan. She eventually switched over to a career in architecture, and then construction management. "Well, they all dealt with the same things to me: space and time and movement," she explained to us with a smile.

After leaving New York City for Columbia County a few years ago, she got connected with Honest Weight Food Co-op and worked as a consultant on the construction of the co-op's new store on Watervliet Ave. And that experience led to her current path.

"I learned so much about retail and food, just being with people who really cared about what they did and how they did it," she said recently as we stood in the bakery space. "And getting to know how they work, I saw an opportunity for a bakery here in Albany that could provide good, fresh, artisan breads. And I was craving a great bagel."

So Davies sought out classes to increase her baking skills, including an intensive course at King Arthur Flour in Vermont. She comes across a detail-oriented person -- one of our conversations touched on the nuances of getting the "ears" of a baguette (the scoring on the top) just right -- and baking, especially at scale, is nothing if not about details. "I love the analytical side of it -- measuring air, and flour, and water temperatures, getting everything just right."

But it's not all ratios and temperatures. There's also an emotional side to food, and that seems to motivate her as well."I just can't remember many happier moments than sitting down and eating bagel and cream cheese and lox, with capers. I mean, that was such a treat to do," she said, recalling some of her memories from Manhattan. "I posted a picture on Facebook of the crew eating the first round of bagels and they've all got the biggest grins on their faces. I mean, good bread makes everyone happy."

bread and honey interior

The bagels

Davies says Bread and Honey's offerings will be centered around bagels. To start they'll be making plain, everything, sesame, poppy seed, and cinnamon raisin. To go with the bagels: cream cheese in plain, scallion bacon, jalapeno; a tofu-based cream cheese; lox; and nutella with apples. Also: bagels as breakfast sandwiches, with eggs, bacon, and cheese.

And what's her ideal bagel? "It's definitely got a little snap and crunch when you bite into it. But you should be able to taste the bagel. Some people have a theory that you put so much stuff on a bagel that you don't taste the bread. I want to reverse that. So that it's amazing bread that happens to have something on it."

The other items

Bread and Honey will be offering bagels and baguettes to start. As the bakery gets up to speed over the next few weeks, she said they'll be gradually adding foccaccia and other breads, rolls, pretzels, muffins and scones, and scratch-made soups.

Davies says she's trying to source high-quality ingredients, locally when possible, like King Arthur flour, fair-trade coffee, and honey from Big Woods Wildflower in Greenville. But at the same time she wants to keep prices reasonable. "I want to make it within in reach for everyone, because it shouldn't be a specialty $9 loaf. That's wrong."

The opening

bread and honey interior

The bakery is set for a soft opening this Saturday, March 15. Hours might shift, but to start opening will be at 6:30 am on weekdays, 8 am on Saturday, and 9 am on Sunday. Closing hours will be sometime in the early afternoon.

Davies said she's also in talks for wholesale arrangements with other outlets around town -- she's already struck a deal with Bake For You on Delaware Ave. Also planned for a bit farther down the road: classes.

She seemed excited about finally opening: "This is my swan song. I mean, this is going to be my last career. And it's going to be brilliant."

Find It

Bread and Honey
809 Madison Ave
Albany, NY 12208

Comments

This sounds quite interesting - and reasonably close to my neighborhood. a Must- Try.

Can't wait to visit!

Sounds delicious. I am excited to try it!! Glad you chose Pine Hills Neighborhood (my neighborhood) for your bakery. Such a great idea!! Thank you!!

I hope they are true (boiled before baked) bagels. Since the owner spent time in NYC, I imagine they would be. If so, I'll be there!

Thankfully I have a morning dentist appointment in the area next week which will give me a great reason to stop by. First time I've ever used the words 'excited' and 'dentist' in the same sentence...

Having taken classes myself at King Arthur, I can't wait to stop in and talk about baking and check the ears on those baguettes!

I wish Naomi the best of luck. I live in this neighborhood and am beyond excited to see a business like this in that location.

Awesome! Since it's getting the Honest Weight Bump, I'm sure it's going to be wonderful! Plus I'm right around the corner, can't wait to check it out!

WELCOME TO HONEST WEIGHT

Best of luck in your new venture! Sounds scrumptious. I don't live in Albany, but I'll be sure to visit your shop next time I'm there!

Make bialys! Please make bialys!!! I love good bagels but I long for good bialys!

All the best for your adventure, Kevin

Congrats!!!! I know you'll be a great success!!

Have tried their quality product three times , each time they has been EXCELLENT! We have been waiting for so long for a nice little cafe to open on my block! This place is worth the wait! I declare it is a must stop for everyone who wants a great bagel, pretzel, artisan bread, or heavenly choc-chip cookie! Their coffee was a treat also!

Naomi, great idea! I love making bread, pizza,rolls,etc,. I add beer to my batch and it gives them an awsome texture and flavor.Best of luck,MaryA.

Just stopped by and picked up a few things to try. Bravo! Especially on the baguette (at last -- a good baguette made in Albany), and the rosemary focaccia. My one suggestion is that the sesame bagel needs a lot more sesame seeds to merit calling it a sesame bagel. Also, what a smart move to partner with Bake for You on Delaware Ave. and sell each others baked goods in their respective neighborhoods. One bakery specializes in artisan breads and bagels, the other in sweet baked goods. I hope these bakeries meet with success.

I am so excited to have a place like this open pretty much across the street from me- it is much needed!

Picked up a couple of Bread & Honey bagels @ Honest Weight today. Yum!

I had two bagels from there last weekend- both were excellent, nicely done inside and with a bottom that had some crunch to it. As an added pleasure the seeds and toppings stayed attached! One small suggestion to them- take the butter out of the refrigerator early in the morning- it was so hard that the girl behind the counter had to crush chinks of it into the bagel instead of spreading it. If that small point is addressed everything would be perfection.

The arsan bread, potato leek soup, and pretzel was devine!
Didn't care for the unfrindly staff, cold atmosphere, or tax on my foods that AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE TAXED IN ALBANY, N.Y.!

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