Making Starter from DOUGH

I am a little stumped and could use some insight. Took a course in making bialys - delicious. The dough was made using a live starter, not yeast. The instructor brought the dough already made, and while he had planned to provide each participant with some starter from his bakery, he forgot it!
He casually mentioned that we can use the extra dough he made to create a starter. In typical chef-not-teacher manner, he did not explain the process. Now, I have, albeit limited, some experience with keeping a mother dough alive. It has always been from starter, not from Dough. The dough is active and bubbly, but he did not indicate which type of flour (I always used rye… his final dough has spelt and a few others with varying grain types 80 and 110)…
The dough sat OUT overnight and has grown and bubbled up quite a lot - almost LOOKS like a starter, but not as wet. I’m not sure what to do next! Should I discard a bunch, weigh it, and treat it like a starter? If so, what am I feeding it? Just one flour? A combo?
Or is this just a dough and can not be converted into a starter, but can be added to doughs if I refrigerate or freeze it?
I do not know how to add a photo to show you… Thank you, bakers and chemists, for any insights you can provide.

Exactly the same as you would keep a starter. You can either keep it low hydration or turn it into a higher hydration starter. Feed it, allow it to mature and use it. Otherwise keep it in the fridge.

Dough is starter albeit thickened up with salt added.

The only thing i’d say is if the dough is enriched or has additions it might not make for a good starter unless you keep feeding it until there is nothing left of the adddition before storing.

You can feed and turn a starter into anything you like… flour, hydration etc

Abe – Thank you! SO, I am thinking maybe freeze what I might otherwise discard, start with 100g (or less?) of the dough, and start feeding it daily… discarding, feeding until its enriching additions (flours and salt) are basically thinned away. Yes? And, what would you recommend for percentages? I have only done 1:1:1 flour/warm water/starter… I do not know if this is a typical way to go . I find it easiest to keep it simple…


I’d say keep it in the fridge. If you have a lot of dough and it’s fresh it’ll keep in the fridge for a few days. Take a little jar, clean it well, take 20g of dough for starter and give it a feed. How much is not important, just make it a healthy one. So 1:1:1 or higher. I personally like 1:5:5 and give it as much time it needs to become bubbly. Once it’s mature you can refrigerate it if the dough is just flour and water in the first place. If not then give it a few more feeds until it’s turned into a starter you prefer. If it seems slow or weak then carry on giving it some TLC till you think it’s strong enough.

Should all go well and it’s been 3 days or under then use up the dough in the fridge as a biga which will add flavour to your breads. You can freeze a little as back-up too.

Do you know what the recipe for the bialys was? If just flour, water and salt then don’t sweat it. That’s practically starter already. If it has other things in it then make sure it’s been fed out and the rest of the dough used up soon.

P.s. Many people keep a starter by just keeping some dough from the previous bake to inoculate the next batch. Keeping a starter completely separate is just one method. Think of yeast in a bread as an infection and a starter is a way of infecting the dough. So many ways each one with pros and cons. One reason to keep it completely separate is you might forget to keep some back. But in theory keeping some dough from one batch to use as starter in the next batch is another way. But of course one would have had to have made a starter at some point to get the ball rolling.

OK… So, when you say 1:5:5 you mean 1 starter and 5:5 water/flour, right? Straight up whole wheat flour? The recipe for the dough is as follows:
type 80 flour 25%
type 110 flour 25%
whole wheat flour 45%
spelt flour 5%
water 90%
salt 2.5%
juuri (do not really know what that is - assuming it is starter?) 6%
TOTAL Dough Weight: 198.5%

Well if he/she has assured you it’s sourdough and that’s the recipe then I assume juuri must be starter.

This dough is basically starter with a little salt already. So keep it simple. Take a little of this dough and start keeping it as a starter and there will be no issue. You have the know how on keeping a starter so just follow that and start feeding it to the hydration and flour that you wish. Yes about 1:5:5 but that was jus an example. Everyone keeps their starter differently so do what works for you. For now just feed it till you are sure it’s strong and firing on all cylinders then refrigerate.

With the rest of the dough you have spare then use within 3 days in other recipes as biga for added flavour.

Got it! Many thanks… have a great holiday!

Thanks. You too :slight_smile: