Pumpkin Sourdough Bread

pumpkin-sourdough-bread-the-rowdy-bakerTangy sourdough combines with rich pumpkin puree to flavor this bread to perfection. The fragrant loaves are a reminder that there’s a chill in the air and comfort food is beckoning…a harbinger of the coming holidays.

A turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich on sourdough pumpkin bread? French toast with pure maple syrup? Crackly, chewy rolls with soft interiors? Yes, PLEASE!

Sourdough starter is always hanging out in my refrigerator…unless I’ve killed it. Sourdough and houseplants are at risk in my household. I either smother them with attention or forget about them until it’s too late to rectify the situation.

Which is why I keep dried sourdough in my freezer; it’s a backup plan that has come in very handy.

If you don’t have sourdough starter, there are several options:

    • Start your own. I had a tough time with this in the past, but the method I used this time was easier than I expected. Maybe I just got lucky and caught the right yeast, but it was pretty painless.
    • Beg some off of a friend. I’ve done this too, but if I kill the starter I feel really guilty (sorry, Laurie!) so I tend to muddle through by myself.
    • Send away for some that is a strain from the 1800s…absolutely free. You just need to send a self-addressed stamped envelope (and I encourage a small donation). I love the idea of having starter with a pedigree! Go here for more information: Carl’s Friends.

At least once a week I remove some of my starter (replacing it with flour and water, of course) and mix up a “sponge” – a batter that sits all night and is ready for action the next morning. I use 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast in the sponge, but if you’re a purist you can skip the yeast entirely. Just be aware that you will be at the whim of your dough; it will rise when it damn well pleases! I get a little insurance by using that tiny bit of added yeast.

Since you won’t know exactly how long your bread will take to rise, I strongly recommend starting your sponge the night before and mixing your dough the next day.

Sourdough sponge - it's ALIVE!

Sourdough sponge – it’s ALIVE!

It’s usually just a matter of adding some water, salt, and flour to get a lovely, crusty loaf of dough – but for this recipe I also added 15-ounces of canned pumpkin puree. (Be careful, don’t use the kind that’s premixed for pies. Grab the solid-pack pumpkin.) I also added a little less water and a little more flour to offset the moisture in the pumpkin.

Note: For a milder flavor, decrease the pumpkin to 1 cup and increase the warm water to 1 cup in the bread recipe.

Pumpkin Sourdough Bread
Makes two loaves
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 2½ cups unbleached flour
  • 1½ cups water, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast (optional)
  • ****
  • The bubbly sponge
  • 15 ounces canned pumpkin
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • 6 - 6½ cups bread flour
  1. Night before: Create the sponge by combining all of the sponge ingredients and beating well with a wooden spoon. Cover and allow the sponge to sit at room temperature overnight.
  2. Bread: in a large bowl (a stand mixer and dough hook is recommended) combine the bubbly sponge, pumpkin, water, salt, and 6 cups of bread flour. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand on floured surface for 7-8 minutes. Dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and be just slightly tacky. If dough is too soft, add additional flour a little at a time.
  3. Cover bowl and allow dough to rise until doubled. If you used a little yeast in the sponge, this will take between 1 - 2 hours. If you skipped the yeast, it could take much longer. Be patient and let the bread do its thing. The longer it takes to rise, the more flavorful the bread will be.
  4. When dough has doubled, punch it down on a lightly floured surface and shape it into loaves. Place in lightly greased loaf pans or form into balls and place on baking sheets with a little cornmeal sprinkled on them. Cover with a towel and allow dough to rise until doubled. With a sharp knife or razor, cut several shallow diagonal slashes in the loaves (or an "X" on round loaves).
  5. Heat oven to 425 F. For the crispiest crust, place a pan of water on the bottom of the rack while the oven is heating. Be very careful when you open the door - there will be lots of steam. Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle to spray the loaves and the inside of the oven when you put the pans in to bake.
  6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until loaves are rich golden brown. For a shiny crust, brush hot loaves with butter. Cool on racks.


Ready to punch down and shape into loaves

Ready to punch down and shape into loaves

Make those loaves whatever shape you want!

Make those loaves whatever shape you want! Let ’em rise, and bake. For crispy, crackly crusts, use steam!


I’m a sourdough fiend. Can’t resist a piece (or two) of toasted sourdough with a little peanut butter.toast-with-pb

Once you have an active starter, making sourdough bread is a cinch! My goal is to make as little mess as possible, so I mix my sponge right in the mixer bowl, then just dump the remaining ingredients in the next day. I don’t turn it out into a greased bowl to rise – just cover the mixing bowl. It seriously takes 15 minutes of effort to make a couple of loaves. You just have to time it for when you’ll be hanging around the house.

My guess is, with the scent of sourdough wafting through the air, everyone will be hanging around the house. Get the butter ready!






Pumpkin Sandwich Bread

IMG_9657Hmmmm. That’s a terrible name for this bread, isn’t it? I mean, it makes me wonder who would eat a pumpkin sandwich! But if I just say “Pumpkin Bread”, people will scroll past my post because everyone has a recipe for sweet pumpkin bread, right?

So, to be specific, this is a yeast bread that is only slightly sweet, and is perfect for sandwiches or toast. It is soft and tender and slices like a dream. I’m super-excited about this recipe and pleased to pass it along to you! It makes three large loaves of bread or two loaves and eighteen rolls. Think THANKSGIVING, folks! These rolls would be a big hit.
IMG_9627.JPG cropped
My garden was less than cooperative this year. We got loads of potatoes, green beans, peas, and tomatoes, but almost no squash. Usually I have a wheelbarrow full of squash and sugar pumpkins, but this year I got two pumpkins that were the size of my boobs Satsumas, so I had to resort to canned pumpkin. Oh well, it’s lots less work and certainly convenient, though with all the pumpkin recipe ideas I have floating around in my head I’d probably better buy it by the case.

Pumpkin fever is a common malady among foodie bloggers. My first thought goes to sweets, of course: pumpkin cookies, fudge, muffins, sweet rolls, cakes. For grins I’ve been making myself think of non-sugary options, with some interesting results.

That’s the problem with being OCD. If I think of a new idea, it must be tried. That’s why the chickens get fed so many goodies from the kitchen! Last night I was making homemade egg noodles for a chicken soup (no, not MY chickens, thank you very much) and was compelled to add pumpkin to the noodle mixture. That was a winning idea and the guys gobbled them up with gusto, which tickled me; I love sneaking vegetables into food undetected.

Pumpkin Rolls - perfect for Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Rolls – perfect for Thanksgiving!

We ate the pumpkin rolls with the soup, and between the three of us made a serious dent in eighteen dinner rolls. Even if you’re a yeastophobe (and yes, Baking In a Tornado I mean you) you really should give this recipe a try. It’s not that hard, honest!

Pumpkin Sandwich Bread
A beautiful light orange bread that slices beautifully. Great for sandwiches or toast. Makes 3 large loaves or 2 loaves and 18 rolls.
  • 2 pkgs active dry yeast
  • ⅓ cup very warm water
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1½ cups boiling water
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup solid pack canned pumpkin
  • 7-8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, ⅓ cup warm water, and sugar. Let it sit until bubbly (about 5 minutes)
  2. In a large bowl (preferably using a stand mixer) combine the boiling water, butter, and molasses until the butter is melted.
  3. Add the wheat flour, eggs, yeast mixture and pumpkin. Mix well.
  4. Add 3 cups of the all-purpose flour and the salt. Mix very well for several minutes.
  5. Slowly add 4 cups of all-purpose flour, one cup at a time, mixing continuously.
  6. The goal is to have dough that is soft but not sticky. It should come cleanly away from the side of the bowl. Add flour if necessary, a little at a time. If you are kneading by hand, this can be done by kneading for 6-7 minutes on a heavily floured surface. If you are using a stand mixer with a dough hook, add any additional flour as you knead for 5 minutes.
  7. Place dough in a very large greased bowl. Cover with a clean cloth and let it rise until doubled, at least an hour.
  8. Prepare bread pans by greasing generously (or spraying with a flour/oil mixture like Baker's Joy.)
  9. Punch the dough down and form into loaves or rolls and place in pans. Cover and let the dough rise until doubled.
  10. Heat oven to 375 F.
  11. Bake rolls for 20 minutes, or until just beginning to brown. Bake loaves for approximately 40-50 minutes. The top should be a dark brown.
  12. Allow the loaves to rest in their pans on a cooling rack for a few minutes, then dump them out on their tops to cool.

Too sticky still. See the dough around the side of the bowl?

Too sticky still. See the dough around the side of the bowl?

My dough doubled in about 90 minutes. It all depends on the warmth of your kitchen!

My dough doubled in about 90 minutes. It all depends on the warmth of your kitchen!

Go ahead, get out all those aggressions!!!

Go ahead, get out all those aggressions!!!

And the best part…the final product!

Mmmm. You beautiful rolls...get in mah belly!

Mmmm. You beautiful rolls…get in mah belleh!

Did I say that was the best part? Silly me. The BEST part is slapping some soft butter on a piece of roll and eating it!

Please pass the butter!

Please pass the butter!