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Recipes,  Sourdough

Healthy Sourdough Pumpkin Spice Bread Recipe (or Muffins)

It’s officially fall, so you know what that means: baking season! Also, time for pumpkin everything – LOL. So let’s kick things off with a new drool-worthy seasonal recipe: healthy sourdough pumpkin spice bread. It’s fluffy, moist, mildly sweet, perfectly spiced and oh-so-delicious. You can use the batter to make healthy sourdough pumpkin muffins too!

Made with whole wheat pastry flour, ample pumpkin, and no refined sugars, this recipe is lower on the glycemic index – and lower on the guilt scale! Don’t get me wrong, I do love an occasional cookie or other sweet treat. But I also have to be careful with temptations around the holidays, being Type 1 Diabetic and all… So rather than throwing another extra-sugary pumpkin recipe in the mix, I wanted to create something a little more nutritious to enjoy and share.



What makes this “healthy” sourdough pumpkin bread?


A number of things make this sourdough pumpkin spice bread more healthy and nutritious than your average sweet bread recipe:

  • We use a whole can of pumpkin puree. Pumpkin is absolutely loaded with antioxidants, fiber, Vitamins A, C, E, K and essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and more. So the more pumpkin, the merrier! Using the whole can also reduces waste. If you’re feeling ambitious, learn how to make homemade pumpkin puree from fresh pumpkins here.
  • Thanks to the whole wheat pastry flour, this sourdough pumpkin bread has more fiber and complex carbohydrates – resulting in a lower glycemic index. That means it’s digested more slowly and won’t cause the extreme blood sugar spikes as white flour would – which is good for all of us, not just diabetics! It also makes you feel full or satisfied for longer, and makes the bread exceptionally tender and soft. (Yes, you can use all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour if that’s all you have available!)

  • This recipe is sweetened with natural sugars (maple syrup and/or honey) rather than refined white or brown sugar. Maple syrup and honey contain more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while having a lower glycemic index than refined sugar.

  • I went a little heavier on the cinnamon compared to other sourdough pumpkin bread recipes – because it tastes fantastic, but also because cinnamon also reduces blood sugar spikes and boosts metabolism!  I use cinnamon liberally in as many recipes as I can – including in my morning coffee.
  • For the healthiest sourdough pumpkin bread possible, allow the mixed batter to ferment for 8 to 12 hours before baking (in the refrigerator). While it’s not necessary to get a good rise in this recipe, a longer fermentation time gives the sourdough starter time to work its magic nutritionally!  Sourdough is more healthy than standard non-fermented bread. In fact, it’s scientifically-proven to be lower in gluten, easier to digest, have a lower glycemic index, and contain more bioavailable nutrients – but only if it’s given adequate time to ferment! 


A pint mason jar full of pumpkin puree is being held up and is in focus. Beyond there are two more pint mason jars of pumpkin puree with a few raw pumpkin seeds scattered around the jars.
Every fall we make homemade pumpkin puree and preserve it in the freezer. I also love making vegan roasted pumpkin 3-bean chili with fresh sugar pie pumpkins!


Should I use active sourdough starter or discard?


You can use either discard or active starter in this recipe. Using active starter (recently fed, used at peak activity) will result in a slightly lighter, more airy and fluffy sourdough pumpkin spice bread. We’ve also made this recipe using discard and it turned out great! It was a tad more dense and tangy, but not in a bad way. 

Note: by “discard” I mean you can use an inactive, not fully risen starter. However, I don’t recommend using the first discard from a severely old, acidic, neglected starter that hasn’t been fed in several weeks or longer.

Need a starter? We offer organic sourdough starter in our shop here!



Fermentation time/schedule for sourdough pumpkin bread


We’ve found 8 to 12 hours of fermentation time is the “sweet spot” to get the best nutritional value without jeopardizing bread quality. This could mean mixing your batter in the morning and baking it later that afternoon/evening, or mixing the batter in the evening and baking it first thing the next morning. 

However, you can definitely reduce the fermentation time to fit your schedule! It will still rise just fine. The fact that this recipe uses both baking soda and baking powder is what gives it great flexibility for time, since baking soda is most active for a few hours after mixing in dough or batter, while baking powder retains its rising powers for several days in the refrigerator. 

You can also increase the fermentation time if needed, but I don’t recommend fermenting the batter for much longer than 20 hours. The longer sourdough ferments, the more chewy the baked bread can become. Chewy is a great attribute when you’re making a rustic loaf of regular sourdough, but not necessarily for a sweet bread like this. When we let the batter ferment for nearly 24 hours during our trials of this recipe, it turned out pretty good but was noticeably more gummy.


A slice of sourdough pumpkin spice bread is on a white ceramic plate. It has cream cheese spread across the top of it. The remainder of the loaf is next to the plate on a wire cooling rack, a stick of cinnamon is just below the plate for garnish.
Rather than a sweet icing, I really love our sourdough pumpkin bread with a schmear of cream cheese on top. YUM!


Follow these tips for success


  • When measuring flour, don’t scoop the measuring cup right into the bag! This compacts the flour and ends up with inconsistent (more than desired) measurements. Instead, stir and fluff the flour in the bag, use a large spoon to scoop the flour into a measuring cup, and then level it off with the flat side of a butter knife.

  • Don’t over mix (or over ferment) the batter, which can make it more gummy or chewy. When adding the dry ingredients into the wet ones, gently hand-stir and fold everything just until it’s combined and then stop. A few lumps are okay! A mixer isn’t needed.

  • If you have any issues with the sourdough pumpkin bread sticking to your pan, try our favorite non-stick USA bread pan instead. I can’t recommend it highly enough! It’s lined with food-grade silicone, making it totally nontoxic – and the bread literally slides right out. (We use this wide shallow version to bake our sourdough focaccia).


The finished loaf is sitting in its loaf pan, atop a wire cooling rack. A white towel with blue stripes lays next to the loaf.


INGREDIENTS FOR SOURDOUGH PUMPKIN SPICE BREAD


Makes one 9×5 inch pan (or 8.5″ x 4.5″ pan)


Dry Ingredients

  • 1.75 cup whole wheat pastry flour. Okay to substitute with all-purpose or white whole wheat flour, though I found all-purpose flour made it a tad more crumbly.
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Pumpkin spices: You can use 1 Tbsp of pre-made “pumpkin spice” seasoning, OR like we do, create your own pumpkin spice blend using 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, ¼ tsp nutmeg and ¼ tsp ground cloves.


Wet Ingredients

  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree (1 full can or about 1.875 cups) – NOT pumpkin pie filling
  • ½ cup real maple syrup*
  • ¼ cup honey. Local honey is even better!
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil or butter, melted. We’ve tried both, and while the difference is subtle, we prefer the flavor and texture of the finished sourdough pumpkin bread made with coconut oil.
  • ½ cup sourdough starter (active or discard)
  • 1 egg or egg substitute
  • 1 tsp vanilla

*You can use all maple syrup or all honey instead (¾ cup total) but we really love the balance and flavor when using some of each.


Optional add-ins: ½ cup of chocolate chips, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or raisins 


Two bowls are next to each other, one is the dry ingredient bowl which is stainless steel, it contains flour with an array of colored spices that make up the pumpkin spice ingredients. The other bowl is a large white ceramic bowl that contains the wet ingredients. It is a deep orange color and a metal whisk is sitting in the bowl.


Instructions: Batter Prep 


  1. Whisk together melted coconut oil or butter, maple syrup, honey, and vanilla. Then beat in one egg. (Avoid adding the egg directly into hot oil or butter)

  2. Next, stir in the sourdough starter and pumpkin puree. Mix well.

  3. In a separate bowl, combine and thoroughly mix all of the dry ingredients: the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.

  4. Slowly add dry ingredients into the wet bowl. Gently stir and mix only until combined. Do not over mix! A few lumps are okay.

  5. Finally, fold in any optional add-ins like nuts or chocolate chips. Again, avoid over-mixing.

  6. Cover the bowl with beeswax wrap or a damp towel during fermentation to prevent the batter from drying out.

  7. For the most nutritious results, allow the batter to ferment for 8 to 12 hours (though you can bake it sooner if you wish). Following food safety best practices, batter with raw egg should not be out at room temperature for more than 4 hours. So, we typically let the batter sit at room temperature for about 2 hours, then refrigerate it for the remainder of the time (usually overnight). For a shorter schedule, leave it out the entire time and then bake before the 4 hour mark.


A large white ceramic bowl contains the pumpkin dough mixture, it is an incredibly bright, deep orange color.


Instructions: Baking & Storage


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Take the batter bowl out of the refrigerator and allow it to warm up at room temp for 30 to 45 minutes (while the oven is preheating).

  2. Grease a 9×5″ bread pan with butter or oil, or line it with parchment paper like this

  3. Pour/scoop the batter into the greased pan and smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. I like to add a light sprinkle of cinnamon on top!

  4. Bake the sourdough pumpkin spice bread on 350° F for 55 to 60 minutes, until a tester (toothpick) comes out clean. Bake for closer to 65 mins if you add mix-ins like chocolate or nuts.

  5. Allow the bread to cool for 15 mins in the pan. Then take it out and transfer it to a cooling rack.

  6. Enjoy! This healthy sourdough pumpkin spice bread is excellent on its own, but also pairs incredibly well with cream cheese.

  7. The bread is best if consumed within 4 to 5 days. (Honestly, it’s even better on the second day than the first!) To retain moisture, store the bread wrapped, in a sealed bag, or in a food storage container with a lid. Refrigeration not required. You can also wrap and freeze leftovers for up to three months.


To make sourdough pumpkin muffins:


Follow the same instructions 1-8, but then divide the batter into a greased or paper-cup lined muffin pan instead. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes for standard size muffins and about 35 minutes for jumbo-sized. 


A loaf pan that is partially full of sourdough pumpkin spice bread dough. The top has been dusted with cinnamon.
A loaf of sourdough pumpkin spice bread still in its loaf pan atop a wire cooling rack. The bread is golden orange with specks of cinnamon.
A close up of two thick slices of sweet bread on a small plate. The bread is slightly orange and brown in color, sourdough pumpkin spice bread. The plate is resting on a cooling rack, and the cut loaf of pumpkin bread is blurry in the background with crumbs scattered around.


Who’s hungry?


Well friends, we tested and tweaked this healthy sourdough pumpkin spice bread recipe over and over for weeks until we got it just right. I’m legitimately so excited to share this with you, and can’t wait to see how you like it! Please let us know with a review and comment below. Also please feel free to spread the pumpkin lovin’ by sharing or pinning this post. Enjoy!


Don’t miss our other delicious sourdough recipes:



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5 from 10 votes

Healthy Sourdough Pumpkin Spice Bread (or Muffins)

You're going to love our healthy sourdough pumpkin spice bread! It's soft, fluffy, mildly sweet, perfectly spiced, and oh-so-delicious. Made with whole wheat pastry flour, ample pumpkin, and no refined sugar, it's also more nutritious and lower glycemic index than other sweet breads!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Bread, Breakfast, Dessert, Holiday Dish, Snack, Sourdough
Keyword: healthy sourdough pumpkin bread, sourdough pumpkin muffins, sourdough pumpkin spice
Servings: 1 9×5″ loaf

Equipment

  • 1 9×5" (or 8.5 by 4.5") baking pan

Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg (or egg substitute)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree (1 standard can, not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter (active or discard)

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (okay to sub with all purpose or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin spice seasoning OR the following:

Homemade pumpkin spice seasoning

  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), chocolate chips or raisins

    Instructions

    • Whisk together melted coconut oil (or butter), maple syrup, honey, and vanilla. Then beat in one egg.
    • Next, stir in the sourdough starter and pumpkin puree. Mix well.
    • In a separate bowl, combine and thoroughly mix all of the dry ingredients. (Tip: Fluff and add the flour to a measuring cup with a spoon and then level. Don't scoop the measuring cup into the bag)
    • Slowly add dry ingredients into the wet bowl. Gently stir and mix only until combined. Do not over mix.
    •  Fold in any optional add-ins like nuts or chocolate chips.
    • Cover the bowl with beeswax wrap or a damp towel during fermentation to prevent the batter from drying out.
    • For the most nutritious results, allow the batter to ferment for 8 to 12 hours (though you can bake it sooner if you wish). Following food safety best practices, raw egg should not be out at room temperature for more than 4 hours. So, we typically let the batter sit at room temperature for about 2 hours, then refrigerate it for the remainder of the time (usually overnight). For a shorter schedule, leave it out the entire time and then bake before the 4 hour mark.
    • Preheat the oven to 350F. Take the batter bowl out of the refrigerator and allow it to warm up at room temp for 30 to 45 minutes (while the oven is preheating). 
    • Grease a 9×5" bread pan with butter or oil, or line it with parchment paper
    • Pour/scoop the batter into the greased pan and smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Add a light sprinkle of cinnamon on top (optional).
    • Bake on 350F for 55 to 60 minutes, until a tester (toothpick) comes out clean. Bake for closer to 65 mins if you add mix-ins like chocolate or nuts.
    • Allow the bread to cool for 15 mins in the pan before taking it out and transferring it to a cooling rack.
    • Enjoy! The bread is best if consumed within 4 to 5 days. Store the bread wrapped, in a sealed bag, or in a food storage container with a lid to retain moisture. Refrigeration not required. You can also wrap and freeze leftovers for up to three months.

    Notes

    To make sourdough pumpkin muffins:

    Follow the same instructions 1-8, but then divide the batter into a greased or paper-cup lined muffin pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes for standard size muffins (about 35 minutes for jumbo muffins).


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    10 Comments

    • Gail Smallridge

      5 stars
      The flavor is beautiful and well balanced. I baked a loaf and had a heck of time getting it to bake all the way through. Toasting it before serving solves the issue! I plan to make it again and again until I ‘get it right’! Thanks for sharing this rich and warming recipe.

    • Janette

      5 stars
      Wonderful recipe! Made as written with freshly ground whole wheat pastry flour and fermented 12 hours. Accidentally used 1 tablespoon of vanilla instead of teaspoon but prob would do it again. Perfect amount to make 48 mini muffins (a very heavy 1 tblsp amount in each) and sprinkled a few mini chocolate chips on top for a treat. Balked at 350* for 14-15 min with a 5 min rest in pan. Hubby and grandkids approved! Thank you!

    • Natalie

      5 stars
      Out of this world! This pumpkin bread is healthy, perfectly soft, tender and the perfect mixture of flavors. The top puffs up and cracks into a beautiful loaf worthy of gift-giving and a permanent place in your recipe files. I followed the recipe as written and incorporated walnuts. AMAZING!

    • Nicole

      5 stars
      This recipe is out of this world! By far the best pumpkin bread I have ever had, it is the perfect texture and extremely moist. All my kids enjoyed this recipe as well

    • Tyla Rosales

      Deannacat was NOT wrong. These are literally the best muffins I have ever tasted! The one thing that did it for me was the flavor. You could taste the pumkin and spices. The second thing I liked was the type of natural sweetners that were used; added a good flavor. I immediately fed my starter again to make a second batch of muffins.

    • Liz

      5 stars
      These were freaking fantastic! Maybe the best muffins I’ve ever made. Used regular unbleached organic flour, added chocolate chips and made them into jumbo muffins. Next time, I will leave them without the chocolate chips because the flavor and texture is amazing… And I’ll put the cream cheese on as suggested!

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