Bread Diaries Day 8: Chai tea walnut fig pumpkin sourdough bread

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Chai tea walnut fig pumpkin sourdough bread aka “wow I am so ready for FALL” sourdough bread aka “what happens if I throw EVERYTHING into this dough” sourdough bread.

Like every other basic baker, I started baking sourdough bread when quarantine started and have been tenderly caring for my starter ever since. And boy did I bake a lot of BAD loaves of bread. Of course, some good ones too, but it probably wasn’t until this past month that I began consistently turning out decent loaves using a low-hydration, no-knead process.

In fact, things were going so well I dared to mix in a bit of pumpkin puree and cinnamon sugar to make pumpkin-shaped sourdough. And that’s what leads me to these ridiculous, fall-themed little loaves. I also tried some new scoring patterns, which came out surprisingly well.

The process

I usually only make 2 mini loaves when I bake, but this time I decided to make 4 so I could gift two away. I use diastatic malt powder because I’ve noticed a distinctly better oven spring. 


  • 230g starter at 100% hydration
  • 300g pumpkin puree
  • 150g chai tea
  • 600g bread flour (King Arthur unbleached)
  • 2 tsp diastatic malt powder
  • 15g salt
  • 15g granulated sugar
  • 90g chopped figs
  • 60g chopped walnuts

As always, I feed my starter with 100g AP flour and 100g lukewarm water and let it at least double in size before mixing. While I wait for my starter to double, I let the figs and walnuts soak in a bowl of chai tea, in the hopes that they will be infused with tea flavor. It also gives the tea a sweet figgy flavor. I have no idea if it worked, but it didn’t do any harm!

Once my starter has grown 2.5x, I mix everything together in a large bowl, except the figs and walnuts. I then perform ~4 – 5 coil folds over the next 2 – 3 hours. I then add the figs and walnuts and perform 2 – 3 more sets of coil folds over 1 – 2 hours. I stick the dough in the fridge and then shape in the morning before baking,

I bake immediately after shaping and scoring (no additional proofing). 20 minutes at 500 in a covered Dutch oven and 12 – 15 minutes at 450 uncovered.

The results

Wow these loaves were tasty and perfect with cream cheese! The crumb was quite dense and chewy, which I expected given the number of add-ins. Didn’t really get a lot of pumpkin flavor, but did get some good chai flavor. I also got a great oven spring and the scoring turned out lovely.

Some things to note:

  • Tea didn’t noticeably alter the bulk ferment behavior of my dough
  • Soaking the figs made them dissolve. Next time, I’d either only soak whole figs (not chopped) or not soak them at all.
  • The loaves could have used a little more figs and walnuts
  • Add-ins during the last 2 -3 coil folds worked for me. They were pretty evenly distributed and didn’t deflate the rise.
  • Score deeply the places you want to expand, score lightly the places you don’t (barley ears, small designs, etc.)

These loaves were a great learning experience with dough mix-ins and different scoring patterns. I’m excited to try some other combos – like chocolate and figs, scored to look like Starry Night.

2 thoughts on “Bread Diaries Day 8: Chai tea walnut fig pumpkin sourdough bread”

  1. Hi, Hali! This sounds amaaaaaazing. I’ve been disappointed with my past attempts at tea-infused baked goods, but I love the idea in theory. Do you feel that the chai flavor came through in this recipe? What are your thoughts about chai tea concentrate for a bolder chai flavor?

    1. I felt like there was lots of chai flavor but not so much pumpkin flavor. I used straight chai tea which made the flavor more concentrated – it’s harder to use tea in baked goods if the tea is not steeped. I’ve never used concentrate before but now I want to experiment!!

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