December 16, 2022 | CULTURE | By Lorelei Smillie
Every morning, I wake up craving a thick, buttery slice of toast. I want a dark brown crust dusted white with flour, so craggy that the edges break painfully against the roof of my mouth, instantly soothed by the soft, spongy interior soaked with melting butter.
During my time living in Colorado Springs, the thing I’ve longed for the most from New York City, my home, is a good piece of bread. There is no celestial heaven like a crusty hunk of sourdough, ripped off a loaf just emerging from the oven, steam billowing up and filling the air with the indescribable scent of freshly baked dough.
So far, I’ve been painfully disappointed by what I’ve sampled. La Baguette’s cherished loaves are characterized by a pale crust barely distinguishable from the interior, and The Sourdough Boulangerie churns out dry breads that taste only of a harsh acidic tang.
When I stumbled across Nightingale Bakery, it was like coming home. Tucked away in an unassuming little strip mall, next to a highway and surrounded by residential homes, this tiny bakery in Colorado Springs is performing true alchemy of flour and water into beautiful golden loaves and pastries.
The store itself is just a small counter with a couple of rows of organic baked goods. It’s located inside the converted Lincoln Elementary School and was opened in 2017 by head baker David McInnis. They make bread and pastries out of organic grain milled right there in the kitchen and use seasonal produce from local farms to guide the menu.
As you approach the bakery, a constant stream of people bundled up in scarves and hats stroll away carrying brown paper bags filled to the brim, smelling of butter and jam. Behind the glass, little and big pastries cluster together, stacked on shelves dusted with flour and crumbs. Bright clanging noises of pans and trays bang satisfyingly in the background, accompanied by chatter and the crumple of parchment paper.
Their best loaf is a seedy sourdough boule made with whole wheat flour. It’s nutty and complex, with toasty and malty flavors layering on the tongue. The crunchy exterior is studded with a gorgeous pattern of seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, poppy, millet, and amaranth. It feels like this bread grew right out of the ground and ambled over to the shelf for a comfy place to rest.
The pastries deserve a mention as well. The chocolate croissant’s layers are paper thin and barely hold together through the first bite as snow flurries of crumbs tumble into the air. A deliciously buttery dark chocolate ribbon is spun through the middle of the golden dough, shading bitterness and notes of sweetness through the savory dough.
I haven’t gotten a chance to try the pizza, which is baked fresh on Thursday and Friday nights. If it’s anything like their other offerings, it’s bound to be incredible. The bakers really cultivate the dough with care. It’s clear that there is love and passion poured into their craft, beginning with their homemade leaven and ending with a perfectly-baked open crumb. Making good bread is hard. Making great bread is harder. Nightingale Bakery does it with ease.