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SumisuYoshi's picture

Sourdough Pumpkin Cranberry Challah

When I was finishing off the last of the challah I made the week before I made this one, I was trying to figure out what to do with some leftover cranberry sauce and leftover pumpkin from other things I'd made, then the idea came to me, what about a challah made with two doughs? One with pumpkin puree providing much of the hydration, and one with cranberry sauce providing much of the hydration. I thought the colors and flavors would make a really interesting combination. And, while I was at it, why not make it with my levain? Having only made challah twice before, this may have been a bit ambitious, but why not! I decided to use the challah recipe in Bread Baker's Apprentice as a starting point, as I liked the loaf I'd made the week beforehand. I took a look at the hydration in the recipe and calculated out how much flour and hydration I wanted in the preferment, I had to estimate here as I didn't know what percentage of the pumpkin puree and cranberry sauce was water. The cranberry sauce definitely had a lower water content, and it also seemed to have somewhat of an inhibiting effect on the levain. I'm not sure why, but I have some ideas. It may have been the sugar and/or acidity levels of the sauce, or the lower availability of water because there was less water in the sauce. The more mundane reason, it could just be that I forgot to get the cranberry sauce to room temperature first (not to mention our house is colder than room temperature) so the cold starter and cold cranberry sauce may have just stayed cold much longer, as the cranberry dough did rise at the same speed as the pumpkin on the final rise.

Sourdough Pumpkin Cranberry Challah

Pumpkin Cranberry Challah Recipe

Makes: 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves

Time: 2 days. First day: Pumpkin and Cranberry starter. Second day: mix final dough, ferment, degas, shape, final rise, bake.

Ingredients: (baker's % are at the bottom of the post, or will be in a day or two for now they are here)


  Cranberry Dough  
  Flour 4.5 oz
  Cranberry Sauce 3.5 oz
  Water 1.250 oz
  66% Levain .5 oz
Final Dough    
  Starter 9.75 oz
  Flour 6.5 oz
  Sugar .5 oz
  Salt .125 oz
  Vegetable Oil .5 oz
  Eggs 1 Large Egg
  Egg Yolks 1 Large Egg Yolk
  Water 1 oz.


  Pumpkin Dough  
  Flour 4.5 oz
  Pumpkin Puree 3.5 oz
  Water 1 oz
  66% Levain .5 oz
Final Dough    
  Starter 9.5 oz
  Flour 6.5 oz
  Sugar .5 oz
  Salt .125 oz
  Vegetable Oil .5 oz
  Eggs 1 Large Egg
  Egg Yolks 1 Large Egg Yolk
  Water 1 oz.
  Ground Cinnamon 1/2 tsp
  Ground Nutmeg 1/8 tsp
  Ground Cloves 1/8 tsp
  Ground Allspice 1/8 tsp












  1. Mix the starters: ‘Cream’ the levain with the water and cranberry sauce, and water and pumpkin puree. Then mix in the flour until the dough forms a loose ball. Let rest 5 minutes, and then knead for 3 minutes to ensure adequate mixing. Place each starter in a lightly oiled container or bowl.

    Sourdough Pumpkin Cranberry ChallahSourdough Pumpkin Cranberry ChallahSourdough Pumpkin Cranberry ChallahSourdough Pumpkin Cranberry Challah

  2. Leave the starters to ferment: Leave the starters in a room temperature place to rise until nearly doubled, degas the starters and refrigerate unless you will be finishing the dough then. If refrigerating, remove from the fridge at least an hour before you start the final dough.

    Sourdough Pumpkin Cranberry ChallahSourdough Pumpkin Cranberry Challah

  3. Pre-mix ingredients: Stir together the flour, sugar and salt (and spices for the pumpkin dough), and mix the starter with the oil, water, egg and egg yolk (making it wetter so it will more easily mix with the dry ingredients).
  4. Mix everything into a dough: For both doughs: pour the liquid ingredients with starter into the dry ingredients and with a large spoon, dough whisk, or a stand mixer, mix until a ball forms, adding additional water or flour as needed.
  5. Knead to develop gluten: Knead for about 5-8 minutes, or until the dough passes the windowpane test. Once again, do this for both doughs. Once kneaded, place each dough in a lightly oiled container or bowl with a cover.

    Sourdough Pumpkin Cranberry ChallahSourdough Pumpkin Cranberry Challah

  6. Degas both doughs after they have nearly doubled: Gently remove them from their bowl or container, turn them out onto a lightly floured surface, and degas. After degassing, divide each dough piece in half, (or any other even numbered amount, or any other division you want, however you need equally sized pieces unless making a double braid) form into a rough boule and let sit a few minutes to relax.

    Sourdough Pumpkin Cranberry ChallahSourdough Pumpkin Cranberry ChallahSourdough Pumpkin Cranberry Challah

  7. Shape boules into strands: Roll the boules out into strands, spend a little bit on each one then move to the next so the first has a chance to relax, until you end up with strands an appropriate length for the braid you plan on doing.
  8. Braid loaf as desired: I’m horrible at braiding so I’m not going to try to give advice on it! After braiding, place the loaf on parchment paper on a baking sheet and brush loaf with 1 egg white whipped until frothy, saving the remainder for after proofing.

    Sourdough Pumpkin Cranberry ChallahSourdough Pumpkin Cranberry Challah

  9. Proof loaf: Place loaf on sheet in a food safe plastic bag, or spray some plastic wrap lightly with oil and cover the loaf with the wrap. Leave the loaf to proof at room temperature until about 1 and a half to twice its original size, about 1-2 hours depending on room temperature and your starter.
  10. Preheat oven to 350°F: Just before placing the loaf in the oven, brush again with the egg wash and top with any seeds or other garnishes you like. Place the loaf in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 20 minutes before rotating the loaf 180°, continue baking for 20-40 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and measures about 190°F in the center. When done, remove from the oven to a cooling rack, and let cool for 1-2 hours before slicing.

    Sourdough Pumpkin Cranberry ChallahSourdough Pumpkin Cranberry ChallahSourdough Pumpkin Cranberry ChallahSourdough Pumpkin Cranberry Challah


This challah was really awesome, great flavors, and great colors! You may want to increase the amount of the spices some, it was just barely enough in my opinion. But you don't want it to overpower the other flavors. I made some french toast with this bread, while we normally only use cinnamon, I added ground cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger to the mix this time. It was like pumpkin pie french toast, but with a bit of fruity overtone from the cranberry. Definitely a good bread for the fall holidays.

Note: As with my last bread, this one can be made as a straight dough, rather than sourdough. Just mix everything in one step, add about 2/3 tsp yeast and add .3 oz. flour and .2 oz. water to compensate for the lack of levain.

And my second recipe submission YeastSpotting . I really enjoyed this one and hope other people enjoy it, or are inspired to their own creation!


LeadDog's picture


This is an adaptation of my Sourdough Sticks formula.  We have an employee at our family store who's Birthday is today.  The other day as she was eating the Sourdough Sticks she said that is what she wanted for her Birthday.  For some reason I had already came up with this crazy idea of making Twisters.  These ideas just seem to come out of thin air so I don't know where I get them from.  This is another really easy fun bread to make and it was a smashing hit with everyone here at our store.  This is so good I'm making it for Thanksgiving.

Right as the twister come out of the oven I brushed them with melted butter.  Then I sprinkled them with a sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Eat them while they are warm.  The sugar cinnamon mixture was 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.  The twisters are slightly sweet with a thin crisp crust and a crumb that is light and airy.  You can read about the rest of it on my site here.

Shiao-Ping's picture

Squeaky wheels get the oil? Or, whinny kids get the lollies, as Chinese put it?

I bought a tray of mangos for my daughter to take to her schoolie’s holiday week. She left half a dozen of mangos at home for her brother. I didn’t realize it at the time of purchase but these weren’t very good quality – they have nice smells but have already started having black skins, a sure sign of over-ripening. After the second one went into my son’s breakfast cereal, I had a feeling that the rest won’t get consumed. I cut them up, mashed the pieces with a fork, and added a couple of teaspoons each of hot curry powder and coriander powder.  I made them into dinner rolls.  These were enjoyed with King Snapper, grilled with lemon, last night.








A slice with morning coffee?  Why not?





Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there in America!





bakerking's picture

We are headed 300 miles tomorrow to visit our daughters so I had to bake last weeekend. The loaves in the back are Susan's Sourdough with kalamata olives and rosemary. The darker loaves are toasted pecan with blue cheese inspired by PR. The rolls are Floyd's sweet potato. It has been a great 9months of learning to bake. Thanks for the recipes and inspiration, this is a great site for learning if you take it one bite at a time.

Shiao-Ping's picture

My herbal garden has been neglected since I started baking sourdough.  Occasionally I asked my son or my daughter to give the plants a drink. I have seen the bush turkeys in my yard a few times and was wondering what they were up to.  Yesterday morning I finally went and had a good look at my herbs.  My parsleys and mint are surviving but my rocket and cherry tomatoes are non-existent.  The bush turkeys!   I found my red-color garden tray covered in cob webs.  I brought it up to the kitchen for a clean.  Perhaps it will stay in my kitchen for a while now.



     Mixed fruits, nuts & seeds, and caraways sourdough







What I have learnt from this levain bread are these:

(1) David (or Anis Bouabsa)'s 21-hour (or at least 18-hours) retarding is well worth it.  To do a retarding of 7 - 8 hour is just not the same in crumb flavor achieved.  And toward that end, (a) slightly under-proofing the dough before going into the refrigerator is a good idea; and (b) the starter must be in tip top condition.

(2) Also, it's a good idea not to be tempted to using instant yeast when long retarding is involved.  As long as the starter is healthy, there is no need to use instant yeast simply because the dough is fully loaded with fruits and nuts, and seeds.  Unless we are very careful with the instant yeast quantity used, in the long retardation, the dough tends to rise then collapse. 

(c) As our tastes are more developed, the complex flavors from herbs and seeds (coriander seeds, caraways, etc) will be acceptable to our palate when mixed into the traditional combinations of breads as seen in this levain bread.



Floydm's picture

By the way, the food issue of The New Yorker just came out and had a long article on Baumkuchen, aka "Spit Cake."  The "spit" in the cake is a large metal stake that is dipped in batter and then rotated near a flame.  This process is repeated dozens of times and then the cake is removed from the stake and slices into disks.  Each slice has "rings" like a tree from the multiple layers of batter getting baked.

In Poland they call this sękacz (or senkacz).  I think I ate sękacz every single day we were in Warszawa.  You can find it here too, but it is not cheap.  But I cannot recommend it highly enough.


Floydm's picture

Last week I grabbed one of my favorite sandwiches from the Pearl Bakery, a pear and gorgonzola number served on their Walnut Levain.  This weekend I tried recreating the bread at home.

Walnut Levain

I was pleased with the results.  The formula was roughly:

500g AP flour (Pendleton Flour Mills Morbread)

330g water

100g ripe starter

10g kosher salt

Walnut Levain Crumb

I also made cinnamon rolls for the first time in a long while.

They were more tan than the yellow they appear to be in this picture.  Oh well.  They tasted great.


occidental's picture

Hey folks.  I've been reading posts at this site for a very long time (years?) and finally decided to sign up.  It's certainly been a good resource for me to learn from and improve my baking.  I have had a few sourdough cultures for a while now and that is what I really enjoy baking with - it all just seems like a big science experiment that you get to enjoy eating when you are done with it!  I've recently relocated from the east side of Oregon to the west side and the rainy season is looking to be the bread baking season for me.  Thanks to all of you who I have enjoyed reading and learning from.  I'll look forward to posting some pictures of my breads as that is what I seem to enjoy more than anything else from others posts!


txfarmer's picture


This one is from "Local Breads", a book I have love/hate relationship with. All 4 recipes I've tried so far from this book have turned out beautifully, however, with so many errors, I have to do extensive research online before trusting a recipe from there, such a shame, I would've loved to bake more from it. This one is super delicious, how can it not be, since bacon makes everything better, not to mention the already delicous baguette!


I followed the recipe closely, except for two things:

1)I kneaded minimally (2 minutes with my KA at speed 4) after autolyse and did a couple of folds during bulk fermentation, while the recipe instructed to knead the dough a lot longer. I like open crumb for my baguette, so I didn't want to over knead.

2)I put in all of the starter build by mistake (195g rather than 125g), luckily I realized it early on, so I adjusted water, everything ended up OK. With the extra starter, I did manage to get 4 baguettes, each about 310g, while some other posters have mentioned that they could only get 3 of 360g ones.

I put the shaped dough in the fridge for 12 hours, took them out and left at room temperature for 75 minutes before slashing and baking. They had great oven spring and the slash opened up well:

And ears one can lift up with

Fairly open crumb with visible bacon bits

The bacon flavor permeate throughout the bread, the best part is the crust - extra crunch and fragrant with the bacon fat.We ate this one straight without anything else, so yummy!

Salome's picture

I undigged an old and beloved recipe, which I somehow just didn't bake in the last time. It's a rather simple recipe; I got it from a woman originating from South Tyrol, she calls it her Farmerbread (Bauernbrot). It's a sourdough bread which can be altered fairly much.

This time I used only whole-grain flours, although the recipe originally asks for high extraction flour (partly).

I posted the recipe for the first time here in my very first forum post when I was asked to share some of my favourite recipes.

The recipe below is how I did yesterday.

The resulting bread remains one of my favourites, it has a fully developed flavour, is pleasantly "heavy", moist, somewhat chewy. Perfect for a hearty sandwich, for instance with a strong cheese or ham. My today's sandwich is made with this bread, a bean spread, cucumber and radish slices. Yum!

the lady of South Tyrol told me that she alters the recipe according to what she's got on hand, sometimes she increases the rye percentage, sometimes she makes it completely wheat. She reccomends to add 150 g of walnuts as well, but this amount seems to be fairly little to me. but I've never tried it yet. I could imagine that a toasted seed-soaker (especially sunflower seeds, flaxseeds...) would work outstandingly.




(1) "Preferment"
250 g whole grain rye flour
250 ml water
200 g ready to bake sourdough (100% hydration whole grain rye)

(2) final dough
1 kg whole-wheat flour (original: 500 g whole-wheat rye, 500 g high extraction wheat flour)
750 ml lukewarm water
27 g salt
1 tablespoon honey

3 tbs Vital Wheat gluten (can be excluded)

1. Prepare the sourdough (200 g), let it ripe.

2. Mix all the ingredients of (1) in a bowl ("Preferment"), cover it and let it rest for 12 hours on a warm spot.

I'm sure that the "preferment" could be substituted by a normal whole rye sourdough, without this extra step. Just mix 335 g flour, 335 g water and 30 g ripe culture and let it fully ferment. But this must me quite harder to digest for the yeasties, so if you have time it's maybe worth to feed the dough in two steps.

3. mix this "preferement with all the other ingredients of the final dough. Knead the dough for at least 15 minutes (by hand). This time I added vital wheat gluten, but I didn't feel much of a difference compared to my earlier bakes.

4. for the first fermentation: cover the bowl and let the dough ferment until it feels light, it should slightly less than double. This took me around four hours, but be aware that sourdough can differ a lot depending on dough and room temperature! I had the same recipe fully fermenting in two hours in summer.


for the baking in pans: grease two or three pans ane it with baking paper. (I don't know how big american pans normally are, so just divide into two or three pieces as you feel)

For baking as hearth loaves: Shape like discussed here (ff)

5.  let the loaves rest until they've risen quite a bit (slightly less than doubled, until they feel "light")  watch your dough and judge yourself.

6. preheat your oven as hot as possible (450°F) , steam well, put the breads into the oven and lower the temperature to 420°F, lower the temperature gradually during the rest of the bake, ending at around 390°F. I baked for about 50 minutes.

7. Let cool and let the loaf set over night.






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