Something in the electrical static of my brain produced the smell of freshly-baked bread. This isn’t unusual, considering I bake three or four loaves of bread a week, but this was an olfactory memory of the yeasted white sandwich bread I used to make when I first started baking. It has a sweet nuttiness, and the butter and honey contributes for a swirling golden richness that fills a house, and it was this powerful smell that popped up in my memory. I had to make white bread again.
This time around I did it with a natural levain, much like the whole wheat sourdough I’ve been making as our daily bread for about a year now and which everyone in the house is getting a little bored about. But this beauty has oats, a little ground flax seed, and a little whole wheat flour for color and rich flavor. Combined with an overnight cold ferment to beef up the flavor, it’s a rich aromatic bread that has very little sourness from the natural levain and a lot of sweet nutty flavor. It doesn’t have the same smell as a commercially-yeasted bread, but the flavor is much more layered and rich. Compare Franzia blush wine with a Château Latour. One has a few basic flavors that pop then disappear, the other reveals itself with time and consideration, each level of flavor peeling back and speaking to the nuance of ingredients and craft that create a whole that is much more than the sum of its parts.