If you don't have a sourdough starter, this post will get you started! Stir your starter and water together in a large bowl. I like to use a danish dough whisk. Add the flour, salt and pumpkin puree. Mix until a stiff dough forms, then finish by hand to fully incorporate the flour. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
After the dough has rested, you are going to fold and stretch the dough to strengthen the gluten and incorporate more air into your dough. Grab a piece of the dough and stretch it up and then fold it over. Slightly turn the bowl and repeat until you have stretched and folded all sides of your dough.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for about 10-12 hours. (bulk rise) I typically let mine rise for 12 hours. Letting it rise overnight is a great option. You will know that the dough is ready when it no longer looks dense and has doubled in size.
After the bulk rise, remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 6 even pieces that weigh 7 ounces (200g) each.
To shape the dough into a balls, fold the dough over toward the center. Give it a turn and fold over the next section. Repeat until you have come full circle. Flip the dough over and with your hands on bowl sides of the dough, rotate in a circular motion putting a slight pressure towards the bottom.
You can bake either on a baking sheet or a baking stone. If you are using a baking sheet, cover with parchment. The next step is to cut your twine. I recommend cooking twine because it is oven safe. You will want to cut your twine long enough that it can fit around your dough ball and have the ability to be loosely tied at the top. I cut mine about 14". Lay 3 cut pieces of twine crisscross in the spot you want to put your dough ball.
Once you have all of your twine cut and layed, place your dough balls in the middle of the twine pieces. Tie the pieces of twine loosely together on each dough ball creating a loose knot at the top of the dough. This is what will shape the dough into a pumpkin shape. You can adjust the twine as needed after it is tied. Tying is loosely allows for the dough to continue to rise, while creating the shape.
Let your bread bowls rise for 30-45 minutes. Make sure you cover them with a damp cloth or a pieces of plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray. The dough is ready to bake when it looks puffy and has risen slightly.
Preheat your oven to 425° F. There are a couple of different methods to bake your bread bowls. You will need to create steam with either method. To do this, you will need a metal pan of some sort that is oven safe and you can pour a small amount of water in. Place the pan in the bottom of your oven or on the lowest rack before you preheat your oven.
Baking Sheet: You can cook the bread on the baking sheet they rose on. This method won't give you as crusty of crust, but still works great! Remove the cloth or plastic wrap and place the entire pan in the oven. Pour about 1/2 cup of water into the metal pan and then shut the door quick! Bake for 25-35 minutes at 425 °F depending on how crusty you like the outside. After they are done baking, place them on a cooling rack and cut the twine when they are cool enough to touch.
Baking Stone: If you have a baking stone that will fit all of your bread bowls, then that is the preferred method for sure! A baking stone can heat up much hotter than a baking sheet and will give you a better crust. If you are using a baking stone, put it in the oven before preheating at the same time you put your metal pan in. Once your bread bowls have risen, transfer them to the preheated baking stone. Pour about 1/2 cup of water into the metal pan and then shut the door quick! Bake for 25-35 minutes at 425° F depending on how crusty you like the outside. After they are done baking, place them on a cooling rack and cut the twine when they are cool enough to touch.
Brush the tops with butter. You can make a stem by putting two pecans together and placing them in the middle of each pumpkin. To cut the tops, angle a sharp knife inward and cut a circle to create a bowl. Serve with your favorite soup!