Pumpkin Sour Cherry Sourdough Bread #BreadBakers

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It's that time of year again. Pumpkin season. Pumpkin SPICE season, to be exact. A season that food bloggers and readers alike approach with the same feeling Ripley had when she realized she was alone on the Nostromo with the Alien that had just made a between meal snack of the rest of the crew. Pure dread. Noooo! Let me alleviate your fears. Yes, this is a pumpkin recipe. No, there's not a pumpkin spice to be found. In fact, not counting the salt, there's no spice at all. It's just a classic sourdough with the subtle flavor and color of pumpkin, dotted with bright bursts of dried sour cherries and it's one of my favorites.

If the marks of a good book are dog-eared place finders and margin notes, then the marks of a good cookbook are splatters and stuck-together pages. And by that standard, Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories and More by Sarah Owens is a very good book indeed. It's got so many splatters and stuck-together pages that I'm close to having to buy a second copy. It says a lot about the quality of the bakes in the book; not so much about my neatness in the kitchen (I admit it, I'm a pig.) I've baked quite a few of the recipes, some more than once, but this bread is one I keep coming back to over and over again. This is my first time baking it with pumpkin however; it's butternut squash in the original. But pumpkin is this month's #BreadBakers theme, so pumpkin it is, and it's none the worse for the switch.

Unfortunately, it's not quite time for fresh pumpkins 'round these parts, which is a shame since the original recipe also calls for roasting and pureeing your own squash. Roasting definitely adds another dimension of flavor but canned pumpkin (organic here) did just fine. The only noticeable difference I could find was purely aesthetic, the bread was slightly less orange with the pumpkin than it was for the butternut squash. I also thought about substituting cranberries for the cherries but that just screamed "CLICHE!" so I stuck with the cherries—sour ones this time instead of sweet. Like a lot of sourdoughs, this is a two-day affair. Mostly hands-off, of course, but well worth every minute.

So there you have it, a pumpkin spice-free pumpkin bread. But don't think you're in the clear. There's a pumpkin spice invasion heading your way and resistance is futile.

Be sure to check out the links below to see how the other #BreadBakers ran with the theme—they're an awesome bunch. And many thanks to Kylee over at Kylee Cooks for hosting! I really do like pumpkin spice. Honest.


Pumpkin Sour Cherry Sourdough Bread



  • 30g 100% hydration starter
  • 60g water
  • 85g bread flour


  • 175g leaven
  • 250g pumpkin puree
  • 355g water
  • 45g mild honey
  • 525g bread flour
  • 140g whole wheat flour
  • 30g medium-grind rye flour
  • 14g sea salt
  • 80g dried sour cherries


  1. To make the leaven, 8 to 10 hours before you plan to make the dough, plate the starter and water into a large bowl and stir together. Add the flour and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or dough whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature to ferment. The leaven should be very active and puffy.
  2. When the leaven is ready, add the pumpkin puree, water and honey to the bowl and mix together, breaking up the leaven. Add in the flours and mix, preferably with your hands, until no dry flour remains and the mixture is free of lumps. Cover with plastic and set aside for 20 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix in thoroughly with your hands, making sure the salt is completely incorporated.
  4. Add the cherries and fold in.
  5. Cover with plastic and set aside to proof for about 3 to four hours, with a stretch-and-fold every 30 minutes. The dough should be nearly doubled in size at the end of the proof.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface and divide in half. Preshape each half, cover and let rest for 10–30 minutes. Shape as desired (I generally make boules), then place each seam side up in a well-floured banneton (or bowl lined with floured lint-free kitchen towel). Cover each banneton with a towel and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours (or overnight).
  7. When you're ready to bake, remove the loaves from the fridge and let them come to room temperature (at least an hour, maybe more depending on ambient temperature).
  8. About 20–30 minutes before you're ready to bake, place one or two covered Dutch ovens on the lowest rack and preheat your oven to 500°F. Cut a piece of parchment that is somewhat larger than the loaf but still able to fit easily inside the Dutch oven.
  9. Sprinkle a little cornmeal on the parchment and turn out the loaf on top, seam side down. Score the loaf as desired, then, using the parchment paper as a carrier, carefully transfer the loaf to the Dutch oven (HOT!), cover with the lid and return to the oven. Reduce the temperature to 470°F and bake for about 20 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 12–20 minutes. The loaf should be a dark brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.


If you want to roast your pumpkin (or other squash) and make your own puree, make sure you start with at least double the final amount of puree by weight. (500g should yield about 250g of puree.)

You can also bake directly on a baking stone, if preferred. I've done it both ways but I'm slightly more partial to the Dutch oven method.

If you only have one Dutch oven, stagger the times that you remove the loaves from the fridge, taking out the second loaf about an hour after the first. Once the first loaf has baked, crank the oven back up to 500° and repeat the process.

Yes, there are two science fiction references here. If I had mentioned that you all need to break out your toasters because this bread makes awesome toast (it does!), it would have been three. I'm a geek.

Recipe Source: Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories and More

Pumpkin Sour Cherry Sourdough with a giant hunk of brie? Yes, please. 

Pumpkin Sour Cherry Sourdough with a giant hunk of brie? Yes, please. 

#BreadBakers for September: Pumpkin

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.