How To

How to make 60% Motherdough:


Many of my formulas/recipes have Motherdough in them. Motherdough is a cold preferment which you make up and put in your refrigerator to ferment for a while. You can have a low hydration like a 60% Motherdough ferment in your refrigerator for a long time. You should leave it in your refrigerator for at least 3 – 4 days before using it, it does need time to ferment. As long as it has bubbles and has not turned into glue, it can be used. Motherdough is often used with another sourdough starter that is fresh and has plenty of wild yeast.

60% Motherdough

Add together:

  1. Vigorous fresh sourdough starter @ 100% hydration – 6 oz/170g
  2. Water – 6 oz/170g
  3. Flour – 12 oz/340g
Mix all of the above ingredients and store, tightly covered in your refrigerator. This will make about 1.5 lbs/680g. Double this amount if you wish to keep some on hand for baking.

16 Responses to 'How To'

  1. rcakewalk says:

    I’ve been refreshing part of the leftover motherdough – and I’m keeping the same hydration but wonder if I’m doing it “properly”? For example if I start with 100 g. motherdough, I add 60 g. water and 100 g. flour. Does that sound right to you? I get so confused with ratios! (I love the blonde wig bread, by the way… I have had great success with it!!)

  2. pLUT0 says:

    how can I check if my sourdough still works, I left it in the fridge for more than a week, ( left for a trip)

    • northwestsourdough says:

      Hi Pluto, pour out half of it, feed it again and then keep it at room temperature. Do that for a day or two and see if it has recovered. Keeping it for a week in the fridge isn’t much time as far as a starter goes. It should be fine.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Can I use whole wheat flour for motherdough?

  4. Chris Pickett says:

    Good Morning,
    Can you tell me what the right consistency/thickess the motherdough should be?. Also if you have time, what 60%, 100% hydration means.
    Thank you, ke6faw

    • northwestsourdough says:

      A motherdough at 60% hydration feels like a finished bread dough, not a sticky wet dough, but a firm dough.

      Hydration means how much water is in the dough. It is calculated by weighing the flour and then the weight of the water is a percentage of the weight of the flour. So if you have 100 grams of flour and 60 grams of water, you have a 60% hydration dough. If you have 100 grams of flour and 100 grams of water, you have a 100% hydration dough or starter.

  5. Amos says:

    Can I ask about using apple cider as the liquid for sourdough, This was recommended to me as all my attempts, compared to the posted pictures look flat. I have been using a 50/50 mix of whole rye flour and apple cider. Apple cider in the uk is fermented, about 4% alcohol, a friend tells me that in the US cider is the name for un fermented apple juice, can anybody confirm.

    • northwestsourdough says:

      A 50/50 mix of rye and cider would produce a dough that would have a difficult/impossible time rising. What else do you put in the dough, just rye flour and cider?

      • Amos says:

        I have tried water(bottled) with organic rye, again 50/50 by weight, filtered tap water, then pineapple juice with rye flour, they all produce something resembling a thick beer like Guinness although a lighter colour, these produce a porridge, sometimes with a shallow dark liquid layer on top. I have used a food mixer to mix.

        I have about three so called starters with no visible activity. I am doing something very wrong.

        Thanks so much for coming back to me.



  6. Muna says:

    Good morning Teresa, How often should the cold mother dough be fed?

    • northwestsourdough says:

      Hi Muna, since 60% motherdough is a somewhat low hydration, it can stay in the refrigerator 2 to 3 weeks before needing to be fed. You can tell when it has gone past it’s prime by noticing how much stretch or strength is left to the dough. If it is a pile of pasty glue, it is far gone and I would make a new motherdough or take it out of the fridge, discard almost all of it, refeed it at room temperature for a few days to bring up the yeast and bacteria levels before making another dough to keep in the refrigerator. If it has good stretch and strength left to it, just feed it and put it back in the fridge.


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