This yeast has been loafin’ around since the time of the Pharoahs.

I’m not a chef. My pulse actually starts to race at the thought of cooking (and not in a good way). Baking bread the 21st century way looks daunting enough, but Seamus Blackley, a physicist, video game designer and serious bread nerd, has taken it one step further.

As he recounts on Twitter, Blackley gathered dormant yeast from ancient Egyptian pots, reactivated it and, using grains similar to those used thousands of years ago, he baked a delicious-looking loaf, complete with the hieroglyph for “loaf of bread.” The project isn’t without precedent. In May, scientists used 5,000-year-old yeast to brew beer.

The endeavor was a bit lengthy and required the help of Egyptologist Serena Love and microbiologist Richard Bowman. Blackley didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but you can read through his whole story in his Twitter feed. We’ve included some of the highlights below.

“Using a nondestructive process and careful sterile technique, we believe we can actually capture dormant yeasts and bacteria from inside the ceramic pores of ancient pots,” Blackley said in a tweet thread.

Seamus Blackley

@SeamusBlackley

Two weeks ago, with the help of Egyptologist @drserenalove and Microbiologist @rbowman1234, I went to Boston’s MFA and @Harvard’s @peabodymuseum to attempt collecting 4,500 year old yeast from Ancient Egyptian pottery. Today, I baked with some of it…

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Blackley tried to keep his ingredients as similar as possible to what would’ve been used 4,500 years ago. Eventually, he had to switch to 21st century technology, but it worked.

Seamus Blackley

@SeamusBlackley

Here is a large batch of starter, carefully made from the Old Kingdom sample, added to water and some unfiltered olive oil. The idea is to make a dough with identical ingredients to what the yeast ate 4,500 years ago. The aroma of this yeast is unlike anything I’ve experienced.

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Seamus Blackley

@SeamusBlackley

This crazy ancient dough fermented and rose beautifully. Here it is in the basket, just before being turned out to bake. The ancient Egyptians didn’t bake like this- you’ll see- but I need to get a feel for all this so I’m going conventional for now.

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Blackley let the baked bread cool and took a bite. Twitter held its breath. How good could it taste?

Seamus Blackley

@SeamusBlackley

And here is the result. The scoring is the Hieroglyph representing the “T” sound (Gardiner X1) which is a loaf of bread. The aroma is AMAZING and NEW. It’s much sweeter and more rich than the sourdough we are used to. It’s a big difference. After this cools we will taste!

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The verdict? Very good.

Seamus Blackley

@SeamusBlackley

The crumb is light and airy, especially for a 100% ancient grain loaf. The aroma and flavor are incredible. I’m emotional. It’s really different, and you can easily tell even if you’re not a bread nerd. This is incredibly exciting, and I’m so amazed that it worked.

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