Bread Roll Molecules

I bake bread like, a lot. I used to get all bready-bore in the early days, but now I do it just for guzzling. I suupose I should branch out and make the sort of stuff you find in artisan bakeries, like 'Bonespur Rye with Malt' or 'Malthouse Almond flatbread' but I just like ordinary, honest to goodness bread. Don't get me wrong, a good white sourdough is to die for, but a lot of the housebricks that people pass off as great baking, well, they can just **ck off and build an extension with them.

My bread, while not unusual, is always gone by the end of the day, or at best, for toast the following breakfast. I generally use strong white mixed 1:1 with malthouse, or sometimes only white - I buy the flour in bulk from Derek at the Hay Deli. I use easybake yeast, too, which will also attract the ire of purists, but when you bake 250/365 or more, less faff is more time in the day for other things - like eating bread.

In another shift from the norm, I put my rolls (it's usually rolls) into a cold oven and switch it on to 180C. It uses less power than a prewarmed hot oven, and I can't taste a difference. 15 mins usually, then turned around and another eight - or twelve if you want crusty.

Anyway, I get bored and was staring at my rolls and thinking: 'They look a lot like a molecule. What if..?' and this is how I got started. I get bored, start to muck around, and see where it all ends up.

I think I approach writing the same way. And Life.


Of course, the first thing you need is a good proving cupboard. A linen closet where you keep the hot water cylinder will do, but if it is well insulated (as it should be) the heat is never that high. This proving cupboard is made out of an old display cabinet with a glass front (useful for at-a-glance visual inspection) in which I have fixed an old 40W bulb. The temperature is about 32C; rolls will be bakable in 90 minutes, a good size in a couple of hours, and trying to get out in four. You have been warned.


So I kicked off with a few easy ones. This is ammonia. Nitrogen in the middle, hydrogen around the sides. To be honest, there should be a bigger gap between two of the hydrogen atoms to allow for the spare electrons. I decided not make Ammonium Nitrate as GCHQ are probably watching. If they do catch this: 'Hello, GCHQ'. (addendum: Wow. Ten minutes after I went live with this my Furby - which is not connected to the internet - said: 'Hello Jasper'.)


This is Ethane, that well known Hydrocarbon. Two carbon, six hydrogen. I enjoy my baking.


I'm just adding rows now, something you can do with Hydrocarbons. This one is Propane, one of the better known ones. We cook on Propane. So might you.


..and this is Pentane..


..and Hexane..


No wait, hang on, I missed out Butane - here it is. I tried Octane, but it wouldn't fit on my baking tray. Just one more reason to build a pizza oven


And then I started to get more complex. This one is cyclohexane, one of the Napthenes (I think). The Hydrogen molecules are on the outside but link in twos to the ring of carbon atoms. Bread rolls don't really do molecular bonds very well. Actually, I was trying to make naphthalene, but was sabotaged by predictive spelling as I googled on my iPad. Turned out for the best - naphthalene is super complicated and I'd need a pizza oven to do it in (see above)


One for you boozers out there: ethanol. In a moment of wild enthusiasm I started to add letters to designate which atom was which. Didn't last.


So this reader sent me an email and says:

'Hey Jasp, love your books. Do you do requests? If so, how about Iodine Pentaoxide? PS: Where's the sequel to Shades of Grey?.

So, why not? I've always liked Iodine because amazingly, it's one of the few medical remedies that have passed over to us from the times of leaches and bloodletting, and the silver salt of Iodine - Silver Iodide - is light sensitive, which has groovy photographic applications. According to Wikipedia, Iodine Pentaoxide is the only stable oxide of iodine. And no, I won't try Silver Iodide as bread rolls: It has a three dimensional lattice structure.


Of course, molecules get boring after a while, so I thought: 'Hey, why not attempt a bread-based schematic of nuclear fusion?' So here we go: Top right and left are the two Hydrogen isotopes of deuterium and tritium. The star in the middle is the heat output as matter (in this case the mass difference) is converted to energy, and below right is a helium atom. The diddy roll is the spare neutron. I hope that's clear.


To finish, some rolls I made that while looking like molecules, are something else entirely. I baked them on May 4th, 2018, which might give you a clue.

Weird? Not to me. Welcome to Jasperland. Collated, with yeast and sugar, 10th June 2020.

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