The Happy Technologist Interesting Geekdom

1Aug/110

Marbled Rye and Evolutionary Algorithms

Since no one has yet taken it upon themselves to write my unauthorized biography, it falls to me to make the following piece of information available to the public: I like to bake.

Breads and pies mostly -- I've got a couple of recipes posted here, including a pie crust that I'm pretty happy about, and a few things I've borrowed from other people. I've made a few rhubarbs lately that really turned out quite well.

One thing I recently attempted, was a Marbled Rye. This isn't a terribly difficult bread to make -- there are recipes everywhere. I was mostly pleased with it, though -- I didn't have any Caraway seeds, which add a lot of flavor, but the bread looked nice and better than a lot that I've made lately.
Chip's First Marbled Rye
One thing I experimented with, though, was yeast.

Yeast is one of those things I don't really understand. This is because the most I remember about the biological classification taxonomy was that everything was an "Animal", "Vegetable", or "Mineral" -- I have no idea which one a yeast would be. This was a problem for biologists as well, so in 1990 they changed the top three domains to be "Archaea," "Bacteria," and "Eukaryota," which has helped me in no way whatsoever because not only do I still not know which one yeast would be, but I no longer know which one I'm supposed to be, and I much preferred back when I was an Animal and the world made sense.

Anyway, yeast are largely responsible for the existence of Bourbon, which automatically qualifies them as A Good Thing™ no matter what biologists call them. Baker's yeast, which makes us happy, is "Saccharomyces cerevisiae" (note the interesting comment in Wikipedia about Crohn's and Colitis on that page -- I never knew that), and lives everywhere, so it's pretty easy to get hold of. You can leave potato-starch filled water out for a while and yeast will just show up. All it does, really, is convert sugar into bubbles and alcohol. In breads, the bubbles (Carbon Dioxide) make the breads rise... in alcohols, the alcohol well, makes the alcohol alcoholic. Yeast is glorious.