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Sourdough Pumpkin Bread

Sourdough pumpkin bread is a perfect fall treat to serve at breakfast, as a snack or dessert this pumpkin season. It makes a wonderful accompaniment to your thanksgiving table and is a great way to use your sourdough discard.

This particular recipe uses a generous amount of pumpkin spice and vanilla for a really flavorful pumpkin loaf. This pumpkin bread has crisp edges balanced by a tender and moist center. You can make your own pumpkin puree with fresh pumpkin, or you can easily purchase canned pumpkin at most grocery stores.  One bonus for this recipe is that it works at high altitude (tested at 5500 ft elevation).

Sliced pumpkin sourdough with end slice laying flat and topped with a pat of butter. There are also two pumpkin, some flowers, a wooden spoon, and another plate with a slice of buttered pumpkin bread with a bite taken out of it.

Sourdough Pumpkin Bread vs Sourdough Bread

Sourdough pumpkin bread, similar to sourdough banana bread, is a type of quick bread that actually does not rely on sourdough starter to make the bread rise. They do, however, contain sourdough discard to help prevent food waste and add an extra tangy flavor to recipes. 

These sweet breads actually use a leavening agent like baking soda or baking powder to provide the rise. This differs from a regular sourdough bread recipe, which requires a long bulk fermentation in which the active sourdough starter makes the bread rise. My favorite sourdough recipe also requires a long cold proof to let the dough rest before baking it. 

Quick breads also do not need a large amount of steam while baking. This means you can bake this sourdough discard pumpkin bread recipe in a regular loaf pan, rather than in a dutch oven. 

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

Flour: Use regular all purpose flour for this recipe. If you want to substitute a little bit of whole wheat flour, substitute 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for the regular white flour. If you do choose to use some whole wheat flour I highly recommend using whole wheat pastry flour rather than regular whole wheat flour. Whole wheat pastry flour is very finely ground and tends to not affect the recipe as much as regular whole wheat flour. 

I don’t recommend substituting more than 25% of the total flour in my recipes because it can really affect the texture and outcome of the recipe. If you substitute too much whole wheat flour, your bread will end up dry and tough. 

Spices:

  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Cinnamon

I use a generous amount of pumpkin pie spice and augment it with a little extra cinnamon to create a really flavorful bread. I actually think this bread tastes better on the second day because the spices have time to infuse the batter. 

Salt: You can use fine sea salt or iodized salt here. 

Leaveners

  • Baking Soda 
  • Baking Powder

I tried making this recipe with only baking powder but I wasn’t happy with the outcome. Baking powder is great at making baked goods rise, but it doesn’t help the bread brown at all. I really wanted those crisp edges on my pumpkin bread (that’s the best part in my opinion!)

Baking soda actually helps baked goods brown via a chemical process called the Maillard reaction. Once I substituted a bit of baking soda for some of the baking powder, the results were exactly what I was wanting: Tender bread with a good rise and crisp brown edges. 

sourdough pumpkin bread ingredients measured out into individual bowls.

Wet Ingredients

Fats:

  • Melted butter: Unsalted is best so you can control the salt content of the bread. You can use salted butter if that is all you have though.
  • Vegetable oil: I actually prefer avocado oil but the results are the same in this recipe. Vegetable oil, canola oil and avocado oil are all neutral tasting and won’t affect the flavor. 

My secret to great quick breads is using a combination of both oil and butter. I used this technique with my sourdough pumpkin muffins and had amazing results so I had to use it here too! Most recipes only call for one or the other but these two fats produce different results. Oil tends to make breads moist, but lacks the flavor that butter has. Butter has delicious flavor but tends to result in a more crumbly texture and bread that dries out faster. 

I want the best of both worlds so I use both. 

Sugars

  • Brown Sugar
  • Granulated Sugar

Brown sugar adds extra flavor and moisture but I also added some white sugar to balance the moisture that comes from the pumpkin and sourdough starter. 

Pumpkin: Make sure you use pure pumpkin purée or homemade pumpkin puree. A common mistake is to buy pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling actually has sugar and spices and other ingredients besides plain pumpkin. 

Vanilla: Vanilla is the perfect flavor enhancer in baked goods. It has a subtle flavor on its own but really augments the spices and pumpkin flavor well in this recipe. I recommend using pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla. 

Sourdough Discard: You can use active sourdough starter or sourdough starter discard in this recipe. The active starter won’t have time to leaven the bread so its okay to use it here. 

How to Make Sourdough Pumpkin Bread

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Spray the loaf pan with cooking spray and line with a piece of parchment paper. I like to line it so the edges come up to the top of the pan. This method makes it super easy to get the bread out of the pan. 

Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside. 

Loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
Sourdough pumpkin bread dry ingredients.

Step 3: In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, oil, sugar, pumpkin puree,  and vanilla and stir until smooth. Now we add the sourdough discard. I like to mix this in last to prevent the bread from getting tough. 

Step 4: Slowly stir in the dry ingredients and mix until just well combined without any visible streaks of dry flour. Just make sure you do not overmix. You do not need perfectly smooth batter here.

Sourdough pumpkin bread wet ingredients in large mixing bowl.
Sourdough pumpkin bread batter in large mixing bowl.

Step 5: Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Once the hour is up, check the bread for doneness by using the toothpick test. Insert a clean toothpick into the center of the bread. If the toothpick comes out clean, the bread is done. If it still has wet batter, leave it in for another 5-10 minutes and check again. The finished bread should have a nice golden brown color and should be firm to the touch. 

Step 6: Once the bread is done, let the bread cool down in the load pan. I recommend waiting at least 30 minutes before serving. If you cut into freshly baked pumpkin bread to early, the bread will be very fragile and crumbly. If you want really pretty, neat slices, it is best to let the bread cool down completely before cutting it. 

Baked pumpkin sourdough bread in a loaf pan next to two pumpkins.

​How to Serve and Variations

  • This pumpkin sourdough bread tastes amazing fresh from the oven (make sure you let it cool down though!). 
  • Serve it warm or cold with a spread of butter. 
  • Top with a maple glaze: If you want to make it just a bit more sweet and flavorful, you can also top it with my favorite maple glaze recipe. The glaze contains pure maple syrup which perfectly complements the pumpkin spice flavors. 
  • Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 
  • You can add 1 cup of chopped pecans or chocolate chips. 
  • Sprinkle the top with pumpkin seeds before baking.

How to Store

You can store this pumpkin sourdough bread at room temperature for 1-2 days. Just make sure it is covered with plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container or gallon ziploc bag. If the bread doesn’t get eaten in the first 1-2 days, I recommend storing it in the refrigerator up to 4-5 days. The higher amount of pumpkin puree can start to go bad if left at room temperature for too long. 

You can also freeze this bread in a gallon freezer bag. I recommend slicing it first. 

Substitutions and Variations: 

To make eggless sourdough pumpkin bread, simply replace the egg for your egg replacer of choice. I have made this recipe using the Ener-G egg replace with good results. 

Optional Add-Ins: You can spruce this pumpkin bread up several different ways: 

1. Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped nuts.

2. Top the bread with 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds before baking. 

3. Pour a maple glaze over the bread after baking. 

Are Glass or Metal Pans Better for Pumpkin Bread? 

I prefer metal pans over glass. Glass pans take longer to heat up and hold more heat than a metal pan. This can result in a longer bake time and tougher edges compared to pumpkin bread made in a metal pan. 

Should I Weigh My Ingredients?

You will definitely get more precise measurements by weighing your ingredients on a kitchen scale, but I have never done so with this recipe. If you use standard measuring cups, your bread should turn out the way you expect. One note I will point out is that your flour should never be packed into the measuring cup. The best way to measure flour is to use a spoon to scoop flour into the measuring cup, then level it.  

Can I Make Sourdough Pumpkin Bread in a Stand Mixer?

You can make this recipe in a stand mixer but I prefer mixing by hand. The stand mixer tends to over-mix the batter and can result in uneven mixing and a tough end result. 

If you liked this sourdough discard recipe, check out these other sourdough recipes:

Rich and Chewy Sourdough Brownies

Sourdough Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Sliced pumpkin sourdough with end slice laying flat and topped with a pat of butter. There are also two pumpkin, some flowers, a wooden spoon, and another plate with a slice of buttered pumpkin bread with a bite taken out of it.

Sourdough Pumpkin Bread

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Equipment

  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 1 Medium Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Rubber Spatula
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Large Baking Sheet
  • Parchment Paper

Ingredients
  

  • cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • cup Sourdough Discard
  • ¼ cup Vegetable Oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
  • ¼ cup Unsalted Butter, Melted
  • ¾ cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  • ½ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375℉.
  • Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon.
  • In a large mixing bowl, use a rubber spatula to stir together the butter, oil, brown sugar, granilated sugar, egg, pumpkin, and vanilla until smooth.
  • Add the dry ingredients and continue to stir until well mixed with no streaks of dry flour. Do not over-mix. The mixture will still be slightly lumpy.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in the pan before serving. To prevent the bread from crumbling when cut, allow the bread to cool completely before cutting into approximate ¾ inch slices.
Keyword Pumpkin Recipes, Quick Bread, Sourdough, Sourdough Discard
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