The Lincoln baker
"There is something special about a beautiful loaf made well with your own hands, a very human kind of satisfaction listening to the cracking crust of a hot, dark baguette just out of the oven," says David McInnis. "I love bread for its tangibility, its straightforward materiality, its commonness and accessibility."
McInnis is the 30-year-old behind the bakery tentatively set to open in May in the Lincoln School Development at 2727 N. Cascade Ave. In this column prior, we've spoken with other Lincoln participants: Building3 Coffee Roasters and Local Relic brewing. But McInnis has not yet decided on what to call his business, or exactly how it'll operate. What the baker is very clear on though, is "my primary focus is on making the best bread I can — the heart of the thing will always be the loaf."
To him, there's a spirituality about the whole process, a symbolism of death and resurrection cycles (a plant giving grain, turned to flour, revived to become bread) that he first read about in a book he grabbed from the library: Peter Reinhart's 2007 work, Whole Grain Breads. This was after graduating from a Christian liberal arts college near Pittsburgh, and trying his hand at winemaking for a year. That led him to work on other agrarian pursuits, at the time thinking "I have to be a farmer."
But upon reading the book, he learned to make bread over a winter at home, he says. Around that time he heard of a professional baker starting a bread CSA out of a rural, wood-fired brick oven, and he "wormed his way into the business," called Wide Awake Bakery, which he co-ran for three years. Still, he yearned for more, departing for a long road trip up the West Coast and into Victoria, B.C., volunteering for a couple days each at 14 different bakeries along the way, "getting a sense of where I fit, who's doing what, and who really has it."
After more soul-searching and encouragement from an abbot in a Pennsylvania monastery, he decided to move to Colorado Springs to participate in the Holy Theophany Orthodox Church. Plus, "I wanted to start my own bakery."
Considering his location, he'll now bake on a gas-fired Italian deck oven, which circulates steam, locking moisture in and "allowing for better expansion and giving the crust better texture, a nice shiny patina." He's also going to place a full-sized grain mill inside his shop, because "once grain is ground, you start losing unique characteristics," and he wants to preserve the best nutrition, fermenting his dough at least overnight to enhance flavor extraction and make it more easily digestible. He'll use sustainably grown grains, some heirloom and heritage. And he may get into baguette sandwiches and breakfast pastries and other items down the line, he suspects, as long as "it fits with the rhythm of the bread baking without being a whole different beast."