Scientist bakes bread from 4,500-year-old yeast, says it's delicious

This yeast has been loafin' around since the time of the pharaohs.

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Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Shelby Brown
2 min read

Seamus Blackley documented his experiment on Twitter.

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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 fan, 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. CNET reached out to Blackley and we'll update when we hear back. 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.

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.

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

The verdict? Very good.

Originally published Aug. 5.
Update, Aug. 9: Adds that Blackley declined to comment. Update, Aug. 17: Adds that CNET reached out to Blackley for comment. 

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