Breads (Sourdough) - Soft Buns/Rolls

Halloween Pumpkin Buns (Sourdough)

October 17, 2020 | Recipe by Bake with Paws
Halloween Pumpkin Buns (Sourdough)

Halloween Pumpkin Buns (Sourdough)

Halloween Pumpkin Buns (Sourdough)

Halloween is just around the corner and these cute Halloween Pumpkin Buns are perfect for a Halloween celebration.   I used my Pumpkin Soft Sourdough Bread recipe to make the buns and I also stuffed them with Pumpkin Puree filling.

The texture of these buns are chewy and soft.  It is advisable to warm up the buns if consuming from the second day onwards.  I don't know how long these buns will last as ours were eaten fast. 

If you wish to bake these buns but you do not have sourdough starter, you can use  my Pumpkin Loaf  recipe using instant yeast.  Make 13 buns instead of 12 buns for the yeast dough as the total flour will be more.

If you have any questions regarding this recipe or any other post, please leave me a comment in the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link and I will reply you as soon as possible.

Recipe - Halloween Pumpkin Buns (Sourdough)

Yields:  12 Buns


Sweet Stiff Starter:
60g sourdough starter (100% Hydration), preferably use at its peak 
180g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
85g milk or 75g water (I used full cream or whole milk) 
30g sugar (I used organic brown sugar)

Main Dough:
140g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
100g - 120g mashed pumpkin * (about 700g pumpkin - peeled, cut, steamed and mashed, balance use for the filling, try to squeeze or discard the water if possible)
All the sweet stiff starter
10g light brown sugar (please increase to your liking)
1 tsp salt
40g egg 
30g butter 

Pumpkin Filling:
300g mashed pumpkin 
30g brown sugar or gula melaka (palm sugar)
50g whipping cream or heavy cream
1/8 tsp salt or to taste

3 cooking string or kitchen twine about 34 inches long and separate each string into 4 strands. Then soak the string in the oil for easy removal later (which I forgot to do). The reason I separated it is because the string is too tick for this small buns.
Baking tray, lined with parchment paper

12 cloves for decoration

* Depend on your flour, because each flour absorbs liquid and hydrates differently. 

  1. Sweet Stiff Starter 
    1. In a bowl of stand mixer, dilute starter with milk/water, stir in sugar and add in bread flour.  Mix with paddle attachment until well mixed and all come together.   It can be done by hand mixing too.
    2. Cover and let it ferment until tripled. I prepared a night before and leave it in aircond room (approximately 24 - 25C room temperature) overnight until tripled.  It took about 9 - 10 hours depending on your starter.  It should take around  5 - 6 hours to get triple at room temperature at 28C - 30C. 
  2. Pumpkin Filling:
    1. Add in all of the ingredients for the pumpkin filling and cook under low heat till reduced and thickened. Set aside to cool. (If you prefer the filling to be smoother, blend the mashed pumpkin and whipping cream with hand blender till smooth before cooking.  You may prepare the filling one night in advance and store in fridge)
  3. Main Dough:
    1. Put all ingredients (except butter) into a bowl of stand mixer.  I usually slightly torn the stiff starter dough first.
    2. Slightly combine the mixture by hand with the paddle attachment before turning on the machine so that the flour will not splash out.  Using the paddle attachment, mix for 2 minutes or until all incorporated. This step is critical to prevent  an uneven mixed dough as the stiff starter is rather hard and a dough hook may not be able to mix it well enough.
    3. Change to hook attachment and knead for another 3 minutes or until the dough comes together. Add in butter and continue knead for 10 - 12 minutes or until the dough become smooth, silky and reach window pane stage.  The whole kneading process, I stopped few times to scrape down the dough from the hook to be sure it is evenly kneaded and also to prevent the motor from overheating.
  4. 1st Proofing/Resting:  
    1. In the same bowl, let the dough rest for 45 minutes. Keep it covered with clingfilm or use a lid.  The dough rose slightly in 45 minutes. 
  5. To shape:
    1. Transfer the dough onto a clean floured surface then divide into 12 equal portions. 
    2. Form each portion into a ball.  
    3. Flatten the dough and roll into a flat circle. 
    4. Place about 1 tablespoon of Pumpkin filling in the centre, wrap and seal, roll into a ball.
    5. Use a string to tie around the dough ball as per the video.  
    6. Place bun onto the baking pan lined with non-stick baking paper.  Make sure they are about 1 ½ to 2 inches apart. 
    7. Let it proof in a warm and dark place until  the buns rises and starts to resemble a little pumpkin. My starter was very active and this one took approximately 2.5 hours at room temperature of 29C - 30C.  It may take longer approx. 3 - 5 hours depending on your starter, environment and conditions.
  6. To bake:
    1. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C (top & bottom heat) or 170C (fan-forced) for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  I usually preheat the oven for 10 - 15 minutes before baking.  Please rotate the tray half way of baking to make sure the buns are evenly baked.
    2. Remove buns from oven and let them cool on rack.  When the buns are cool enough to touch, remove the string by cutting off the top knot and bottom. Gently pull off the string one by one carefully.  Stick a clove in the centre of the buns.

Pumpkin Filling

Sweet Stiff Starter

Main Dough, Shaping and Baking



A healthy starter is very crucial as advised by Baking with Gina.   It is advisable to feed your starter regularly if you want your bread to rise nicely and to use the starter (levain) at its peak.  A starter that is fed regularly will be more active in general.  If the mother starter is not strong, the bread dough will not rise a lot even though the starter is used at its peak.  


Gluten forms when flour comes in contact with water.  Hydration of the flour causes the sticky and stretchy protein to form, giving structure to the bread.  This makes your bread trap air and rise. 

Gluten in dough can be developed by autolyse, resting, kneading or folding.

The windowpane test is used to determine whether the dough has been sufficiently kneaded.  By gently pulling the dough (or you may pinch off some dough) and trying to stretch it into a thin membrane.  If you are able to stretch the dough paper thin and translucent  without tearing, then the gluten is fully developed.  However, if you can stretch it without tearing but the membrane is not transparent, then the gluten is not yet fully developed.  

However, from my experience not all the recipe can achieve a thin and translucent window pane stage easily.   For example low hydration and low fat dough.  For such recipes, a reasonable window pane is good enough and it can be left to rest. Gluten will continue to develop while resting.  Exercising restraint to not over-knead the dough prevents the gluten from being overworked and broken.   Some of you may have experienced the dough breaking during the second proofing.  It is because the dough is over kneaded. 

The total kneading time for me is usually 15 minutes at low speeds except brioche dough with high fat percentage or dough using liquid fat which usually takes a little longer (maybe 18-20 mins).

From my experience, I found that high hydration dough with high percentage of fat will be easy to stretch and achieve a paper thin windowpane stage.


For kneading, please regard the timing provided as an indication only. It is only meant as a guide.  Timing may differ depending on the brand of flour and electric mixer used. The protein content may vary from one brand of flour to another.


The right flour plays a very important role in bread making.   To achieve fluffy, soft and light bread, I used Japan High Gluten Flour in most of my bread baking.  The protein content is around  12 - 13%.


The liquid measurement given is also a guide.  It is advisable to always reserve some liquid and not add it all in one go.  This would give you the opportunity to adjust if necessary. If dough is too dry, add the reserve liquid one tablespoon at a time until the right consistency.  This is because each flour absorbs water and hydrates differently. 


Please note that the proofing timing may also vary depending on your climate, environment, flour and your starter. 

If you are unable to judge by just looking at the dough, you can do the finger poke test:

  1. Lightly press the side of the proved dough with your finger.  If it bounces back immediately without any indentation, it means the dough is under proved and needs more time before baking.
  2. If the indentation stays and it doesn’t bounce back, it means it has been over proved.
  3. If the indentation slowly bounces back and leave a small indentation, it is ready to bake. 
  4. There will be a final burst of rising once the bread is placed to bake in the oven and it is called oven spring. 

If your bread collapses or gets wrinkled on top after removing from oven, it could be because your dough over proved during the second proofing. Please proof until the tip of the dough just reaches the rim of the pan, around 80% - 90% in size.


Do also note that the baking temperature and timing provided are what works for my oven and should also be regarded as a guide only. Every oven behaves a little differently, so please adjust accordingly for your oven.


  1. looks very yummy , it is need brush with egg wash before baked ?

    1. Hi, thanks for reading this recipe. I didn't brush. You can if you want.

      Cheers :)

  2. Lovely! Can I make it into one giant pumpkin as a display piece?

    1. Hi, Thanks for visiting this page. Yes, of course you can. It is totally up to you.

      Cheers :)

  3. Hi I noticed this recipe also calls for sourdough starter. I don’t have sd starter , what can I do to get started. I am the very very forgetful type so it’s impossible to prepare the starter which needs to be fed everyday and I don’t bake often so after preparing the starter it will be a waste if I don’t look after it isn’t it ?

    1. Hi, Thanks for reading this recipe. This is sourdough soft bun recipe. You may want to try instant yeast recipe in my blog.

      Cheers :)

  4. May I know the day time ratio for the sweet stiff starter?

    1. Hi there, Thanks for reading this recipe.

      Please refer to the full details on the Ingredients stated on the above recipe and kindly read the method for duration.

      Sweet Stiff Starter:
      60g sourdough starter (100% Hydration), preferably use at its peak
      180g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
      85g milk or 75g water (I used full cream or whole milk)
      30g sugar (I used organic brown sugar)

      Cheers :)


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