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  • Writer's pictureGrace Saadi

From Vine to Stalk- Making Sourdough Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

'Tis the season to squash a squash in everything and make it gourd shaped. Like usual, I’ve been baking up a storm, and this time of year is certainly no exception. With the popularity my video got on Tiktok, I thought I’d share my process of making this loaf of naturally leavened whole wheat pumpkin bread.

The original recipe is based off of Hunger Thirst Play, here I’ve added some of my tips and tricks for making this loaf of bread.


1. Sourdough Starter (100% hydration)

You want to follow your typical procedure for feeding and perpetuating your starter to get it bubbly and active. Often times others will say: feed it several hours or even the night before baking, jumping right into the recipe at its peak. While there is nothing wrong with this method, I have a more reliable process- though it requires a tad more planning. Feed your starter the day before baking and let it rise at room temperature for 6 hours. It should double in size. Mark the height on the container with a dry erase marker or rubber band and place it in the back of your refrigerator overnight. The next day, take it out 1-2 hours prior to baking, you may see that its height decreased a bit over night- that is ok! Feel free to scale your dry ingredients in the meantime. As time passes, it should come to room temp and rise even more than the day before, near triple the original height post feeding. Now you’re ready to get bake!

Side note: you know your starter best! (or maybe you don't yet, cozy up, get to know eachother's quirks, make a loaf or 2) What I'm sharing is a general guideline, but if you find that your starter has different activity, adjust timing accordingly.

2. Make the dough

To begin, add the lukewarm water to the bowl, followed by your sourdough starter. Mix together with a fork or Danish whisk to thoroughly incorporate the starter. Then add your pumpkin and mix again to combine. Swap your whisk for a wooden spoon or spatula and add your flours, salt, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds and mix to form a rough dough- make sure all the flour is hydrated. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes at room temp. (tip: I use a shower cap to cover my bowl. It’s great to reuse and prevents wasting plastic)

Important note here: the original recipe says to add the salt with your starter and pumpkin. DON’T DO THIS. Salt tightens gluten and may create clumps of sourdough if it was not properly incorporated. Wait and add it with your flour, it will mix in perfectly.

3. Stretch and fold

Rather than kneading, this dough gets coil folds. Wet your hands and scoop the dough from both sides stretch the dough upwards and fold the dough onto itself on the top and bottom. Turn the bowl and repeat. Ensure the dough is smooth side up and cover once again. Let it rest for 1 hour, perform another coil fold, rest for another hour, and perform one last coil fold (for a total of 3 folds). Once again, cover the bowl.

4. Bulk fermentation

Let the dough rest for another 3-4 hours after the stretch and folds, depending on the temperature of your kitchen (colder = longer fermentation). At this point, the dough should be doubled in size and leave a slight indentation when poked with a finger.

5. Preshaping the dough

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pull the top, bottom, left, and right into the center of the dough- think like you're wrapping a present. Turnover and round the dough with your hands. Do this by cupping both and placing them at the farthest side of the dough. Dragging your hands along the table, bring the dough towards you, tucking in and creating slight surface tension. Place your original bowl upside-down over the dough (to prevent it from drying out) and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. In the meantime, flour your round banneton (mine is 9”) or bowl lined with a tea towel.

6. Shaping the dough

Remove the bowl and repeat the same rounding process, gently tightening the ball, but do not tare the surface of the dough. Using a bench scraper, flip the dough upside down into the prepared banneton so that it is smooth side down. Cover and retard/cold ferment the dough in the fridge overnight. (once again, this is where a shower cap really comes in handy as it creates a seal around the entire banneton and keeps the dough moist in the fridge the whole time)

7. Making the pumpkin

Preheat your Dutch oven- I use the Emile Henry Bread Cloche- in the oven set to 450 F for 30 minutes. Towards the end, begin shaping your pumpkin. Cut for pieces of baking twine, approx. 22” in length. Soak them in vegetable/canola oil and set aside. Retrieve the dough from the fridge and sprinkle the bottom with cornmeal or semolina (to add crunch). Place the prepared twine on the dough, overlapping in the center, then place a parchment circle on top. Using a cutting board or other flat surface, flip the basket around. Remove the basket and dust more flour on the top of the dough. Tie the twine in double knots in the center of the dough- each string should loop around and be tied to itself, with the knots overlapping in the center. You should already see the pumpkin shape starting to form! Cut the excess string close to the knot. With a lame (razor-blade) or sharp knife, decoratively score the dough to your liking- do not cut too deep.

8. Baking

Add your dough to the preheated Dutch oven and bake covered for 20 minutes at 450 F. After, remove the lid, reduce the oven to 425 F and bake for another 35-45 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the bread has a hollow sound when knocked on the bottom. You may see that the bread has risen and baked around the twine- that’s ok!

9. Cooling and serving

Remove from the Dutch oven, discard the parchment, and let the bread cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. Cut and remove the twine, pulling from the underside of the loaf if the bread baked around it in some areas. Poke a hole in the top center and add a cinnamon stick- or if you’re like me and the only ones you have on hand are small chunks for mulling spices, add a twisty pretzel! I found that I actually preferred the look of this, since it better mimicked the stem of a pumpkin. From here, cut slices, toast if desired, slather on some butter, cinnamon, and honey and enjoy!


Sourdough Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

Yield: 1 loaf

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 7 hours

  • 295g (1 ¼ cup) warm water 80-90°F

  • 100g (½ cup) starter, ripe (fed)

  • 130g (½ cup) pumpkin purée (canned or homemade)

  • 250g (2 cups + 1 tablespoon) bread flour

  • 250g (2 cups + 1 tablespoon) whole wheat flour

  • 7g (1 teaspoon) sea salt

  • 70g (½ cup) dried cranberries, sweetened

  • 35g (¼ cup) roasted pepitas/pumpkin seeds

  1. Mix together the water and starter, add the pumpkin puree and stir to combine. Add the flours, salt, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. Mix to form a rough dough, fully hydrating all the flour. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

  2. Stretch and fold the dough

  3. Rest 1 hour

  4. Stretch and fold the dough

  5. Rest 1 hour

  6. Stretch and fold the dough

  7. Bulk ferment for 3-4 hours, dough should double in size

  8. Preshape the dough by rounding, cover and rest for 15-20 minutes

  9. Re-round the dough and add to floured banneton/bowl/basket. Cover and cold ferment overnight in refrigerator.

  10. Preheat dutch oven for 30 minutes at 450 F. Cut 4 pieces of baking twine and lightly soak in vegetable oil, cut a parchment circle. Remove dough from the refrigerator.

  11. Sprinkle cornmeal or semolina on the dough and overlap the twine in the center, place the parchment on top, flip, and remove the banneton. Dust more flour, tie the twine in the center, and score as desired.

  12. Transfer the prepared dough to the preheated dutch oven and bake covered for 20 minutes at 450 F. Remove the lid, reduce the temp to 425 F, and bake for 35-45 more minutes.

  13. Cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before cutting and enjoy!


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