This Decorative Pumpkin Sourdough Bread is just as delicious as it is beautiful. With a subtly sweet and earthy flavor from the pumpkin puree, complemented by the comforting notes of warm cinnamon, it epitomizes the essence of fall baking. Making this bread with sourdough adds a delicious tang, imparts spongey texture and a beautifully crisp golden brown crust.
What is Pumpkin Sourdough Bread?
The quintessential fall bake, Pumpkin Sourdough Bread is a sourdough loaf cleverly shaped like a pumpkin. Recipes often include pumpkin puree and warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves which evoke the flavors of autumn. For bakers who aren’t comfortable with baking with enriched breads, it can also be made using a Simple Sourdough Bread Recipe.
When autumn rolls around, you’re bound to see pumpkin-shaped loaves gracing the internet and social media feeds. There are numerous renditions of this decorative loaf, like the one I shared on Simply Recipes. Each one serves as a testament to the creativity of the skilled baker who created it.
Why I love this recipe
- Great way to infuse some creativity into your sourdough routine.
- Delicious pumpkin flavor enhanced by aromatic cinnamon.
- Mixed by hand, no stand mixer required.
- Creates a delicious loaf that serves as a stunning centerpiece.
What You Need
Flour: This recipe uses a combination of bread flour and whole wheat to achieve the ideal structure, texture and flavor. Don’t use 100 percent whole wheat flour for this recipe or your loaf will turn out too dense.
Sourdough starter: You’ll need a mature, active starter for this recipe.
Canned pumpkin puree: Homemade pumpkin puree may change the hydration level of your dough and adversely affect final texture of your bread. For the best results use canned pumpkin puree, I use it in my recipes for Sourdough Pumpkin Bread, Sourdough Pumpkin Cookies and Sourdough Pumpkin Muffins.
Molasses: Has a unique flavor that imparts a rich sweetness to this loaf. You'll want to keep some in your pantry after trying my recipe for Sourdough Molasses Cookies. Substitute honey, maple syrup or brown sugar in a pinch
See recipe card for detailed ingredient information.
STEP 1: Combine water, molasses, pumpkin puree and sourdough starter in a large bowl.
STEP 2: Knead the flour, salt and cinnamon into the wet ingredients.
TIP: Sourdough starter floating in water is a great indication that it is active and ready for bread baking.
STEP 3: Perform 1 set of stretch and folds.
STEP 4: Perform 2 sets of coil folds in 30 minute intervals.
TIP: Checkout my post to learn more about How to Perform Stretch and Folds and Coil Folds.
STEP 5: Let the dough ferment until it looks bubbly and has increased in volume by 30 to 50 percent. (image 5)
STEP 6: Shape the dough into a boule Transfer to the refrigerator and cold proof overnight, about 8 to 16 hours. (image 6)
TIP: For more in-depth instructions, check out my post on "How to Shape Sourdough into a Boule."
STEP 7: Arrange the strings over your banneton. Place a piece of parchment paper over the banneton, be careful not to shift the placement of the strings.
STEP 8: Flip the banneton over with the piece of parchment. Tie the strings together and cut off any excess
TIP: Use food-safe cotton butcher’s twine and coat the strings in oil to prevent them from getting stuck to your baked loaf. Don’t tie the strings too tightly, this will prevent the dough from rising completely and will result in a closed, dense crumb.
STEP 9: Score the dough.
STEP 10: Bake in a Dutch oven at 475 F covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Make sure your starter is active before starting this recipe. An inactive or immature starter can hinder your dough from rising, resulting in a dense, gummy loaf.
- Be patient, baking with wild yeast takes time. Wait until your dough is visibly bubbly and well-risen before shaping, this typically takes 4 to 6 hours. I’ll be giving time cues, but understand that these may shift based on your starter's health and the unique conditions in your kitchen.
- Dust your banneton with an even coating of rice flour to prevent your dough from sticking.
- Don’t forget to score your loaf. Inadequate scoring can prevent steam from escaping, causing your bread to burst. To learn more, check out my post on "How to Score Sourdough."
Aside from your usual bread baking tools, the only other tool you need to create a pumpkin-shaped sourdough bread is food-safe string. I recommend using cotton butcher’s twine.
A flat loaf is usually the result of proofing issues. Make sure dough is bubbly, feels airy and has noticeably increased in volume before shaping.
Avoid tying the strings too tightly around your dough, as doing so can hinder its full rise, resulting in a dense and flat loaf.
Use all-purpose flour, corn meal or semolina if you don’t have any rice flour on hand.
If you don’t have a banneton, use an 8-inch mixing bowl lined with a tea towel dusted with rice flour.
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Pumpkin Sourdough Bread Recipe
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- 113 grams pumpkin puree canned
- 226 grams water
- 14 grams molasses
- 90 grams active sourdough starter
- 360 grams bread flour
- 60 grams whole wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 7 grams salt
- 14 grams oil
- Make the dough: Mix the water, pumpkin puree, molasses and sourdough starter in a large bowl. Stir until the starter has fully dissolved.113 grams pumpkin puree, 226 grams water, 14 grams molasses, 90 grams active sourdough starter
- Fold the flours, cinnamon and salt into the wet ingredients. Mix until no traces of dry flour remain. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.360 grams bread flour, 60 grams whole wheat flour, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 7 grams salt
- Stretch and fold: After the rest period, complete a set of stretch and folds. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly-greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for another 30 minutes.
- To perform a stretch and fold, working with the dough inside the bowl, pick the dough up with your fingertips and stretch the dough out as far as it will go without tearing. Fold the dough over itself. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat 3 more times.
- Coil Fold: Perform 2 sets of coil foils in 30 minute intervals. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place.
- To perform a coil fold, working with the dough inside the bowl, lift the center of the dough up with your finger tips until the ends release from the container. Lightly set the dough back down into the bowl and tuck the ends under.
- First proof: After the last coil fold, let the dough rise untouched untl the dough looks well risen and bubbly, about 1 to 2 hours.
- Shape the dough: Shape the dough into a boule.
- To shape your dough, turn the proofed dough on a clean work surface. Flatten the dough out into a rectangle. Fold the side closest to you towards the center and the top of the dough over the bottom flap. Fold the sides over each other. Flip the dough and round it into a boule Place the dough into a prepared banneton with the seam side up.
- Cold proof: Cover the banneton with plastic wrap. Transfer the dough into the refrigerator to proof overnight (about 8 to 16 hours).
- Prep: The next day, preheat the oven to 500 F with a Dutch oven inside. Cut 5 pieces of string, about 24 inches long. Soak the strings in oil.
- Shape the pumpkin loaf: Arrange the strings on top of the dough. Place a piece of parchment paper over the strings. Flip the dough over.14 grams oil
- Tie the strings over the dough, so it is divided into 10 sections. Don’t tie the strings too tightly or your loaf will not be able to rise completely. Cut the excess string.
- Score the dough: Score each section of the pumpkin. Make sure the cuts are about ¼-inch deep. You’ll need to score the dough adequately to prevent it from bursting in the oven.
- Bake: Transfer the dough into the Dutch oven. Turn down the oven temperature to 475 F and bake for 30 minutes covered and 10 to 15 minutes uncovered, or until the loaf registers at least 190 F when probed with an instant-read thermometer or reaches your desired level of browning.
- Enjoy: Transfer the baked loaf to a cooling rack and cut the strings off. Let the bread cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.
- Store: Store any leftover bread for up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
These recipes were developed and tested using grams for precise measurements. To increase your chances of success, I recommend investing in a kitchen scale. I've included rough volume estimates (in tablespoons and cups), but they might not be totally accurate.
Remember all ovens are unique, these recipes were tested in my oven which runs cooler than others. You might need to lower the temperature if your bake appears to be browning too quickly. Monitor your bake closely and make adjustments if needed.