A Social Network For Yeast

Looking for the Breadwinner Device guide? Head on over here.

You may have some questions...

What is Breadwinner all about?

Breadwinner is part community, part platform. We believe that all hobbies deserve communities where amateurs to experts can get into the weeds and feel supported. On Breadwinner you can log your bakes, discover what others are baking, find and customize bread recipes to your liking, and create a profile for your starter to get reminders of how and when to feed it.

Can't I just use Instagram to post photos of bread?

Instagram is great if you're looking for glossy photos of the final product. But what about all the glory that goes into learning how to bake bread? That's where Breadwinner comes in – we aim to be *the* place where bread gets discussed, logged, and celebrated on the web.

Who is behind Breadwinner?

Right now Fred is on it full time, but he's getting plenty of help from Sarah, Elizabeth, Brendan, Sid, Stephanie, Dan, Noah, and Tieg.

This is cool and all, but I have Ideas.

Not a question, but we'd love to hear your feedback! Drop us a line at [email protected] with your thoughts.

Just getting started with starters?

What is a starter?

You can think of a starter as a community of microorganisms – yeast and good bacteria – that are dedicated to helping you make the most amazing fermented foods you've ever tasted. When making kombucha this is called the SCOBY: a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. For bread, "starter" always refers to a sourdough starter: a collection of wild (though not always) yeast that lives in a colony on your counter and is fed regularly.

What about different types of bread? Can they all be sourdough?

Yep. You can make everything from a focaccia, to baguettes, to pumpernickel, to rye, to bagels with a sourdough starter. The sky's the limit - if a recipe calls for yeast, you can use your starter instead.

How do I know if a bread is sourdough or not?

Usually, if it's commercially produced (think Wonderbread) it's almost certainly leavened using commercial yeast and not a sourdough starter. But before the 20th century all bread was made with a starter – some starters have been kept alive for centuries! It wasn't until the invention of commercial yeast in the 1920s that mass production of bread was even possible.

Wait, so what is the difference between yeast in the store and a starter?

Commercial yeast (whether it's active or instant) is just yeast. It gets activated when given some food in the form of water and carbohydrates (e.g. flour or sugar). But this commercial yeast doesn't come with any bacteria alongside it – it merely provides leavening for the dough and no flavor. But a sourdough starter contains bacteria, usually a strain of lactobacillus, that provide *flavor*. This makes all the difference and imbues dough with an extra tang and true, deep flavor. Unfortunately this comes at a cost! It means we have to care for those beastie yeasties and bacteria by feeding it regularly and making sure the temperature is just right.

Do I need a sourdough starter to use Breadwinner?

Absolutely not! If you're working with instant or active dry yeast we've got plenty of recipes for you and you can log your bakes with those instead of a starter.

Can sourdough starters go bad and make me sick?

If your starter develops odd colors or smells, there's a chance it might be getting moldy. This is rare, as most of the time the yeast and bacteria in a starter do a good job fending off bad microbes.

Why are you all so obsessed with starters?

A sourdough starter is a magical thing. We feed it and it feeds us and it's happiest when it's attended to daily. Each starter has its own personality and flavor contribution, and when you're feeding it every day, you tend to grow attached.

What's the difference between starters?

Everyone's starter is a little different – what type of flour we feed it, how much water we include (also known as hydration percentage), and the particular makeup of bacteria and yeasts all contribute to a unique identity. You can “tune” your starter to a small extent by keeping the hydration low or feeding it a special mix of flours, but most of your starter’s characteristics are a reflection of the wild yeasts and bacteria in your environment. If you move across the continent and take your starter with you, don’t be surprised if it subtly changes character over the next year! These unique local and personal attributes are why most bakers choose to name their starter something fun.

What should I name my starter?

Only you can decide what to name your starter. Some people name their starter like the way they'd name a dog. Jerry. Others get punny, for example Bread Pitt.

How can I make my own starter?

There are tons of amazing guides on the web to learn how to make your own starter. Some of our favorites include The Perfect Loaf, Joshua Weissman, and King Arthur Flour. You can also ask your friends! Chances are there's someone in your network who already has one and would be more than willing to give you plenty to get started.

Can I add off-the-shelf commercial yeast to my starter?

Sure, but then there's a good chance your starter will get colonized by the commercial stuff!

Can I kill my starter?

Despite popular opinion, it's relatively hard to really kill yeast without getting it really hot (think above 140ºF), so if your starter doesn't seem very active, it may just need some TLC! Yeast as old as 4,500 years has been successfully resuscitated and some biologists believe it to be immortal.

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Meet Fred

Aside from baking bread, I love surfing, playing piano, writing, emoji and my two cats. I was the second employee at Kickstarter where I led their data team but have also worked for Creative Commons, Y Combinator, and the Wilton Public Library.

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