Can I use too much sourdough starter (biga) ?

hi all,
new user of this forum, but baking the same sourdough bread for years. i store a bit of the starter in the refrigerator and then wake it up by feeding it for a day or 2. 
in the feeding process, i add water and flour, when it has been fed, i throw out most of it and repeat the process until it doubles. 
my question is this time i decided not to throw out the excess, so i put it aside. now that i am ready to bake, i am wondering if i can use the excess flour/water/biga. it has a similar consistency to my starter, strange to me since it was just sitting in the refrigerator.
a second part of this question is if i try to use it, it will obviously throw off my recipe, not just in the amount of starter, but in how much flour and water. so what to do? 
i hope this is clear and i am not giving anybody a headache trying to follow this.

275 users have voted.


davo 2009 July 24
I've used some up like this a couple fo times by warming it up and using it as a levain directly into a final bread dough. I thought it would be very likely to not rise as well as when I more normally use a small amount of starter to make a levain and then build that to a bread dough. But it has worked OK. For me, though I would do this as a separate batch from my normal bread. Or make pancakes or pizza bases out of them. I've made pancakes but not pizza bases. I've read how some mix up a basic pizza dough out of the left over, knead rise, roll, rise a bit more, par-bake and then freeze the bases. Then you have pizza bases in the freezer. I also once made SD scones that were pretty good.
Eric jakob 2020 May 27

As I'm sure you know, the yeast does two things when fermenting: 1) aerates and inflates the dough and 2) develops flavor during fermentation. If you use too much starter it will rise faster (no problem for shape and crumb) but unfortunately, that means less time for flavor development. You may consider putting it in the fridge for a couple of days to slow the proof and develop the flavors with a slower ferment.


musuron's picture
musuron 2009 July 25
I use my discarded sourdough tidbits to make pancakes. There are lots of recipes online for them, I tend to perfer the simpler ones.
dukegus 2009 August 1
Pancakes is a nice things to do, I make my leftover sourdough, sometimes, into ...we call it "loukoymades" in Greece. You have a watery well risen starter and you deep dry some using a teaspoon. They become round beautiful golden balls. You put then in a plate with a papernapkin for the excess oil and then serve them with honey and cinamon!!!I'm hungry!!
Millciti's picture
Millciti 2009 August 2

When I first started making sourdough I did what they said and discarded the early undeveloped starter.  But since then I can alway use up extra starter.

By the way Arthur, both your questions are good ones!

Humm.... Choices: Pancakes, muffins, Biscuits or Scones, throw a little into your quickbreads, ginger spice cake, sourdough noodles, add water and salt and use it as batter for frying veggies, Just think flour water yeast what else does it need to make_____ _____??? fill in the blanks.  If it is too sour add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of soda to neutralize the sour a bit. 

2nd part of the question is ... It really depends on what you are making, but If you want the recipe to turn out the way that the author intended, at least try it the right way first!

Two of my favorite things to make are sourdough ricotta cheese pancakes with a bit of lemon or orange zest.  Top with your favorite or seasonal fresh fruit, a little syrup or whipped cream... Yumm... 

Sour Dough Beer Pizza is the other favorite thing I do.  Take excess starter (1-2weeks old) you have saved in the fridge, add about 100gm each of warm water and flour to around 200-300g of cold starter. More water if you are using a 50% hydration starter.  You are looking for a thick batter 80-100% hydration.  Let it warm up and get a little bubbly. 

Add a bottle of room temp Malted Ale or Beer and enough water to make 400g of liquids (355g of beer + 45g water).  Then add about 300g of flour - I use durham, unbleached white, and at least 50-100g of whole grain wheat or spelt. Stir in around 35g of nonfat (not instant) powdered milk. Then add 12-15g of salt and 25g of Olive oil if you desire.  Stir in another 300g of unbleached flour.  Then depending on the type of pizza you are making pan or flat add another 50-100g of flour. 

Knead dough till it is smooth but still soft and a bit sticky around 10 minutes, cover and let rise for 45minutes. or knead till dough is thoroughly mixed about 3-4 minutes cover and stretch and fold 2 times in the next 45 minutes. 

Divide dough into half and then split 2nd half into half again.  I use the two quarters for pizza.  Flatten/press out dough with additional durum or semolina, either place in 12" oiled pizza pans or on parchment paper for the grill, Cover and let rise 45m to 1hour. Top with sauce and fresh veggies bake at 450-500F 10min, add meat and cheese bake 10-12mins till cheese is bubbly. If using pans remove from pan and bake on stone for last 2 minutes of bake time.  Try and get some before your family eats it all!!

OH... the second half of the dough... Either repeat pizza process with the other half of the dough or form a loaf and place in a banneton.   Or... spread into a well oiled salted pan, top with more Olive or Flavored oil and salt and spices poke to form focaccia.  (Google for more foccacia topping suggestions).  Cover and let rise till the pizza is finished baking.  Spritz with water and bake at 450F for about 20 minutes or until lightly golden. 

Just don't let your imagination limit you...:)


dukegus 2009 August 2

Add a bottle of room temp Malted Ale or Beer[/quote] 

I think that adding the beer is like adding yeast, so you kind of kill the lactobacilli so it's not a sourdough, it just has some sourdough in it. It will have a better taste because of the addition of the starter( depending on the sourness) I guess. I have never tried it, is it a major difference in the taste of the pizza dough?

Millciti's picture
Millciti 2009 August 2

Remember starter that is stored is not at its peak for yeast.  So the beer adds yeast, flavor malt, sugars, all kinds of benefits.  But I don't think it really kills off the lactobacilli because the loves that I make are still delicious and a little sour depending on different factors.  Besides I am not adding beer to the starter to make more starter. Sorry the recipe is kind of rough, if you try it feel free to tweak it.  It has just evolved over time. suggested toppings are italian sausage or salami, fresh basil, mushrooms, hot peppers, sweet onions, zuccini and fresh mozzarella cheese. 


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