pumpkin sourdough milk bread

pumpkin sourdough milk bread

For those of you who have been reading for a bit, you’ll know that I’ve struggled getting my own sourdough starter up and running. I’ve tried at least eight times to get the damn thing going, and things will look good, bubbly and active, and then when it comes time to perform the yeast doesn’t deliver. I would end up with sad, dense loaves with hardly any bubbles in the crumb. It was discouraging and depressing. I love making bread and to continually have projects not work out was extremely upsetting for me. Dramatic, I know. But what can I say? I love bread. But all that changed after visiting Breadtopia’s site. For the record, this isn’t sponsored, I’m just extremely happy with my purchase and my ability to make all the sourdough now. They sell bits of live starter from their starter which is many years old. It comes directly to your door and all you have to do is feed the starter up to the amount you want and you’re ready to get baking! I was able to successfully make this pumpkin sourdough swirl bread and I was so happy!

My starter is now named Betty and she lives in my fridge in between baking projects. Now. this bread is AMAZING. I adapted a recipe from Ruth Tam over at Cook Til Delicious and she’s a baking genius. It’s soft, slightly sweet, with all the delicious sourdough tang. I enjoyed eating it just toasted with butter, but it would also make INCREDIBLE french toast or bread pudding. The swirling part was fun too! I made my own pumpkin butter (and pumpkin puree, more on that in a second) and it was better than store bought. You can always, of course, grab a jar of your favorite pumpkin butter to make the project a bit easier. I know this recipe seems like it takes a while, but it’s very simple. There is a bit of waiting in between steps, but I swear it’s worth the wait and effort.

Some important things to note:

  • Sourdough takes time. The yeast won’t cause your bread to rise the same way that dry yeast will. During proofing times, it can take up to 6-8 hours for your bread to reach the necessary size. Don’t be discouraged! Just give it some time and try to find a warmer place in your house to let the dough hang out (I use my laundry room).

  • As with most of my baking projects, my recipes are in grams. This is not to make life more difficult for you, but to help you achieve consistent and exact results every time. A kitchen scale costs about $10 at just about anywhere from Target to Walmart to Amazon. Invest in one!

  • Depending on your brand of pumpkin puree, you dough might be wetter or drier—lightly adjust flour or a little dribble of milk as needed to bring the dough together.

  • The kneading portion is pretty killer. You can do it by hand, but expect to knead for at least 20 minutes. I highly recommend letting your stand mixer do the work! The dough will be lovely and supple when finished and will stretch easily. Try the windowpane test, here!

  • Using a pullman loaf pan is what will get you gorgeous, tall loaves of bread perfect for sandwiches. However, if you only have a 9x5 loaf pan, cut this recipe in half for a smaller loaf. I used a 13x4x4 pullman pan because I love having a large loaf of bread around for breakfast snacks!

  • To make your own pumpkin puree: I used 1/2 of a kabocha squash that I had leftover from my thai pumpkin curry recipe (find it here). I roasted it cut side down on a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat with the skin on and seeds still in the middle at 400 degrees F until the squash was very tender. I gently scooped out the seeds and discarded them, and then spooned out the soft flesh and pureed it in my food processor until smooth. You can also use sugar pumpkins, butternut squash, etc. as a substitute.

Happy baking! Seriously, make this for your fam for thanksgiving and watch it disappear! Leave me your questions and comments in the comment section!

Products I used in this recipe:

Yield: 1 13x4 loaf

pumpkin sourdough swirl bread

prep time: 24 hourcook time: 40 minstotal time: 24 hours and 40 mins


  • 50g ripe starter (100 percent hydration)
  • 80g whole milk
  • 100g bread flour
Pumpkin Bread
  • all of the levain from above
  • 80g granulated sugar
  • 250g bread flour
  • 250g all purpose flour
  • 215g whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 190g pumpkin puree
  • 10g salt
  • 113g unsalted butter, cool, cut into small pieces
Pumpkin Butter
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon hot water


  1. To make the levain: mix together the ripe starter, milk and flour until a smooth paste forms. Cover and let ripen at room temperature for 6-12 hours. This timing will depend on the stretch of your starter but the levain should be completely covered in bubbles. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the levain and all remaining ingredients, except butter and salt, and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Cover and let sit for 45 minutes. This allows the liquid to fully absorb into the flour. Do not skip this step!
  3. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the dough, and mix with the dough hook on medium-low speed. Add the pieces of butter in a couple at a time, mixing the butter in completely before adding more. Continue mixing until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl and is very soft to the touch. The dough should look glossy and should stretch when pulled. 
  4. Transfer to a clean, lightly greased, bowl or plastic container, cover and let rise at room temperature for at least 2 hours. The dough will not be doubled in size, but will be visibly bigger. Transfer the covered bowl to the fridge overnight, or for at least 8 hours. 
  5. In the meantime, make the pumpkin butter. Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until thick and darker in color. Cool completely. Can be stored in the fridge for 1 week. 
  6. Grease and line a 13x4x4 inch pullman pan with parchment paper so that the parchment paper hangs over the sides for easy removal later. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a 13x20" rectangle, with the short end facing you. Spread the pumpkin butter evenly over the surface, leaving a 1/2" border on the short side opposite you. Gently, but tightly, roll the dough up away from you like a jelly roll. Once rolled up, roll back and forth over the seam a couple of times to seal. Transfer log to the freezer for 10 minutes. 
  7. Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough in half lengthwise and place the halves side by side, cut side up. Twist the two halves together, keeping the cut sides up, and transfer to the pullman pan (cut sides, still up). Cover with plastic and proof for about 6 hours at room temperature, until the dough has risen to the top of the pan. 
  8. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash. Bake for about 40 minutes, rotating once halfway through, until the internal temperature registers at about 180 degrees F. If the top is browning too quickly, lightly cover with foil. Mix together the honey and hot water. As soon as the loaf comes out of the oven, brush the top with the honey water. Cool completely before slicing. Bread can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and stored it the fridge for 1 week, in the freezer for 1 month. 
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