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My pumpkin yeast bread in the shape of pumpkins is a fun twist on a challah bread bun. Make these with or without filling for an autumnal treat! Great to accompany brunch or tea.
Ingredients for Easy Pumpkin Bread with Yeast
- Yeast - one packet of dry active yeast (or 2½ teaspoons).
- Warm water - in order to activate the yeast (without killing it) the best temperature for the water is about 104°F (40C).
- Flour - a mixture of plain (or all-purpose) flour and strong white bread flour.
- Sugar - superfine granulated or caster sugar.
- Spices - ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves (or substitute pumpkin spice mix for the cumulative amount of spice).
- Oil - this should be a flavourless oil such as canola or sunflower.
- Pumpkin puree - use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling! Pumpkin pie filling includes other additives that will require adjustments to the spices if you choose to use this.
- Maple syrup - you can use either maple syrup or brown sugar for this to give a touch of sweetness.
- Optional: Cinnamon sticks for pumpkin stems and pecan paste filling.
Process for Pumpkin Yeast Bread Dough
In order to make the pumpkin yeast bread dough, you'll need to follow the basic process of other yeast breads, such as my challah bread buns.
First, begin by activating the yeast in warm (but not too warm!) water - the ideal temperature is about 104°F (40C). Adding about a teaspoon of sugar will help to ensure the yeast foams up well.
In a small jug, whisk together the wet ingredients (the pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup and eggs) while you put the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Once the yeast is activated, add this to the dry ingredients, immediately followed by the wet and knead for about 15 minutes on a low medium setting. You'll be looking for the dough to pull itself away from the sides of the bowl.
Transfer to a clean oiled bowl and cover in plastic wrap to proof for 2 hours until doubled in size.
Step-by-Step for Shaping Pumpkin Bread Buns
After the first proof, you'll need to shape the pumpkin bread buns. In order to do this, you will need some kitchen twine. For large buns, you'll want about 3 feet long pieces per bun. For smaller buns, you can use slightly less.
First, knock back the dough and turn it out onto a clean work surface. The oil from the bowl will help ensure this doesn't stick. Use a dough cutter to slice this into equal parts. This recipe is best suited to either 8 large buns or 16 small buns. You can also cut this into 12 buns easily if you'd prefer - the key for proofing and baking is that these are roughly equal.
Form dough rounds by pinching together the bottoms to make the top nice and taut. Then form a cage with your fingertips touching the work surface over top of the dough. Gently roll this around the cage to help smooth out a sphere.
When you have formed a round, take the piece of twine and place the centre of this over the middle of the dough round. Flip this over, criss cross the twine (like wrapping a present with a ribbon) and then pull the twine perpendicular like a cross.
Flip back over and twist again, this time pulling the strings over so that they lay at a 45° angle to the cross shape. Repeat the flipping and criss crossing process.
This should result in you tying off the twine on top of the dough ball with 8 roughly equal sections made in twine.
Once shaped, trim the twine and place on a prepared baking sheet for a second proof of about 45 minutes.
Filled Pumpkin Challah Buns
These pumpkin challah buns are fun pumpkin shaped treats on their own. But, they can also be made even more exciting with a filling!
In order to fill these buns, you can use chopped nuts mixed with sugar or a nut butter. For the pumpkin challah, try using my candied pecan nut butter - I might be partial here, but it is fabulous!
Before forming the round of dough, simply add about a teaspoon (if doing small buns) of the filling to the centre, pinch together to seal and then form the dough ball in the same way. Shape using twine just as with the unfilled version.
Baking and Removing Twine
Once the second proof is done, it is time to bake you pumpkin yeast breads! Brush the buns in an egg wash and then bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes. The precise time will vary dependent on the size of the bun, but you are looking for these to be risen and golden on top.
Check the buns about halfway (at 10 minutes). At this stage I like to clip the top string with a pair of scissors. This isn't wholly necessary, but does help to avoid any section of the bun disproportionately expanding.
To remove the twine, and let the pumpkin shaped breads shine, cut the strings first on top and then on the base of the bread. Carefully pull the twine loose. You can do this best by loosening the strands at the top and the bottom, before pulling each gently from the base. This will avoid ripping the sides of the buns unnecessarily.
To complete the pumpkin look, use cinnamon sticks as pumpkin stems!
FAQs for Pumpkin Bread Buns
These pumpkin yeast breads keep well for a few days at room temperature. For best results, store in an airtight container. This will preserve the freshness and avoid premature staling.
Yes, these can be frozen. Remove any twine and allow to cool completely before placing in freezer bags to store for up to three months in the freezer.
As challah bread expands quite a lot while baking, this isn't unusual. If you notice this occurring while baking, you can cut the top threads of the twine and this should lessen the bread expanding disproportionately out one side. This often results from the bread being underproofed or too tightly shaped. The benefit for these buns is that pumpkins (being natural) are not perfect! The bread will still be impressively shaped and delicious!
Absolutely not! This recipe can be used to make simple pumpkin yeast bread buns without the pumpkin shaping! Simply follow the same process, minus the need for twine and you'll produce lovely little pumpkin bread buns (filled or unfilled).
If you like this recipe, why not play with some more yeast breads:
Pumpkin Bread [with Yeast]
- Kitchen twine or cooking string
- Stand mixer fitted with dough hook
- 2½ teaspoon dry active yeast
- ½ cup warm water about 104°F (40C)
- 3 tablespoon caster sugar or superfine granulated sugar
- 2 cups plain flour or all purpose flour
- 1¼ cup strong white bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 eggs + 1 for egg wash
- ⅓ cup flavourless oil such as sunflower oil
- ¼ cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- optional: cinnamon sticks cut for stems
- Start by sprinkling your yeast over the warm water and adding 1 teaspoon of sugar. Give this a stir and set aside for about 10 minutes until frothy.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flours, remaining sugar, spices and salt. Stir together lightly.
- In a jug, whisk together the oil, pumpkin puree, 2 eggs and maple syrup.
- Once the yeast is foamy, pour this into the flour, immediately followed by the oil mixture and begin kneading the dough on a low setting until it comes together in a sticky dough.
- Increase the speed slightly to a medium low setting and continue kneading for about 10-15 minutes until the dough is pulling itself away from the sides of the bowl.
- Transfer this dough to a lightly oiled large bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Set in a warm place for 2 hours, until doubled in size.
- After 2 hours, turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knock back. Using a dough cutter or sharp knife, slice into 8 equal parts.
- In order to form the pumpkin shapes, take each portion of dough and pinch together at the bottom to make a taut surface on top. Use your hand to create a cage on the work surface and gently roll the dough ball to help create a smooth dough round. Then, using about a 3 foot piece of kitchen twine, place the twine over the top of the ball so that the centre is over the centre of the ball. Flip the ball upside down and twist the string (like wrapping a gift with ribbon), so that your twine is now crossing perpendicular to your original line). Flip the ball over again and twist. You should now have a cross of string. Now, bring the string to a point between the lines of twine you've already made. Flip and twist again to be perpendicular to your most recent line. Flip one last time and knot the string. You should have eight roughly even sections marked out by the string. (See the blog post for images to illustrate). Repeat this process with each piece of dough until you have 8 buns. Place these on parchment paper or silicone baking sheets, well spaced, and cover with a clean kitchen towel to proof for a second time for 45 minutes.
- While the dough is proofing, preheat your oven to 350°F (175C/155C Fan) and prepare an egg wash by whisking together an egg and a splash of water.
- After the buns have finished their second proof, brush each with the egg wash and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until risen and golden.
- Cool on a wire rack and add pieces of cinnamon sticks to look like pumpkin stems. Serve with butter or pecan paste.