Pretzel Bread Loaf Recipe

This pretzel bread loaf won’t fool you into thinking that you’re eating a soft pretzel. But it is a soft, flavorful white bread that’s slightly sweet and topped with coarse salt.

It’s just like your favorite soft pretzel. Spread on a bit of mustard, and now it’s perfect for turkey sandwiches.

The inspiration

The inspiration for this sandwich loaf comes from the Test Kitchen Kids Pretzel Rolls. They are soft and sprinkled with salt and sturdy enough to hold up to burgers of any kind.

a sliced loaf of pretzel bread on a cutting board with a bread knife.

This pretzel bread sandwich loaf recipe was created for the reddit 52 weeks of baking challenge, week 46: alternative sweeteners. Instead of sugar, it uses a combination of honey and barley malt syrup to give it that classic pretzel flavor.

four pretzel rolls on a cooling rack.

Tips and tricks for this recipe

This sandwich loaf uses a sponge starter method before two rises. Mix a small amount of yeast and flour with the warm water, honey, and malt syrup. Then leave the sponge until it starts to bubble through the flour on top.

two panels showing the pretzel bread loaf sponge.

Mix the sponge with the rest of the pretzel bread ingredients, knead it, and leave it for its first rise in the mixing bowl.

two panels showing the pretzel bread first rise in the mixing bowl.

After the first rise, shape the pretzel bread loaf, dip it in the baking soda mixture, and let it rise in the loaf pan for the final rise.

(Here’s a video from King Arthur Baking showing how to shape a sandwich loaf.)

Once it has risen about an inch or more above the pan, brush the loaf with the egg wash and sprinkle it liberally with coarse salt. Try not to get the wash on the edge of the pan, or your bread may stick.

the unrisen pretzel bread loaf in the loaf pan.

Variation: lye bath

The recipe calls for soaking in a baking soda bath and using an egg wash for color. However, if you are comfortable with using food-grade lye, you can get even more pretzel flavor. Just shape the loaf, soak it in the lye bath, and then let it do its final rise on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

a free-standing loaf of pretzel bread made with lye and cut into three slices.

FAQs about this pretzel bread loaf recipe

What is barley malt syrup?

Barley malt syrup is an unrefined sweetener made from barley that’s also used in making bagels. It’s a thick, brown liquid with the consistency of molasses. This is the one I use, but you can find it in many grocery stores.

What would be a barley malt syrup substitute?

Use an extra tablespoon of honey or just omit the syrup. Your bread will still be soft and delicious.

Why do you use a baking soda bath for the pretzel bread?

The baking soda wash gives this bread the deep brown crust. Food-grade lye is traditionally used for pretzels, and you could use it for this recipe if you feel comfortable using it safely.

Can I freeze this bread?

Sure. Slice your baked and cooled bread, put it into a freezer bag, and squeeze out all the air. To defrost frozen pretzel bread, just pop it in the toaster or let it come to room temperature as needed.

Related recipes

Check out other breads for sandwiches like this Portuguese bread, this honey wheat sandwich bread, or the famous purple cow milk bread.

Pretzel Bread Loaf Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Category: Bread
Cuisine: Unspecified
Total Time: 8 hours
Servings: 16 slices
Calories: 158kcal
This pretzel bread loaf won't fool you into thinking it's a pretzel. But it is perfect for deli sandwiches with just a smidge of mustard.
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 1 cup (125 grams or 4.4 ounces) bread flour
  • ¼ cup powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup
  • 1 ¼ cup (283 fluid milliliters or 10 ounces) warm water plus additional, as needed

Pretzel bread

  • 3 cups (375 grams or 13.2 ounces) bread flour plus additional, as needed
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil plus more for greasing the bowl
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

Baking soda bath

  • ½ cup (4 ounces) boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

Egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon pretzel salt or other coarse salt

Instructions

  • Combine the ingredients for the sponge (1 cup flour, powdered milk, yeast, honey, malt syrup, and water) in the bowl of your mixer or in a medium sized mixing bowl.
    1 cup (125 grams or 4.4 ounces) bread flour, ¼ cup powdered milk, 1 teaspoon instant yeast, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup, 1 ¼ cup (283 fluid milliliters or 10 ounces) warm water
  • Over the top of the sponge, add the remaining bread flour and yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and let the bowl sit in a warm place until the sponge is bubbling through the flour cover, about 1 to 2 hours.
    3 cups (375 grams or 13.2 ounces) bread flour, 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • Mix the dough using the paddle attachment of your mixer until it starts to come together. Then add the oil and salt and switch to the dough hook for your mixer.
    2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil, 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • Knead the dough using the dough hook for 7-8 minutes until it is soft and smooth and can be stretched without tearing. The dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky, so you may need to add a bit more flour or water during the kneading process.
  • Shape the dough into a boule and place it in a lightly oiled mixing bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  • When the dough has doubled in size, grease a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan.
  • Prepare the water bath by whisking together the boiling water and baking soda in a glass loaf pan or baking dish. Let cool enough so you don't burn your hands, then form the dough into a loaf and roll it around in the baking soda bath to cover it completely.
    ½ cup (4 ounces) boiling water, 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Carefully, because it will be a little slippery, put it seam side down in the prepared loaf pan. Cover it with plastic wrap and again let it rise in a warm place until it has risen about one inch above the sides of the pan.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • While the oven is preheating, lightly beat the egg for the egg wash. Brush it all over the top of the pretzel loaf, being careful not to get too much wash along the edge of the pan, which will cause the loaf to stick.
    1 egg
  • Sprinkle the top liberally with the coarse salt.
    1 tablespoon pretzel salt or other coarse salt
  • Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, until the internal temperature of the loaf is 185 to 190°F. The crust should be a beautiful deep brown and the bottom of the pretzel bread will give a hollow sound when you thump it.
  • Let cool for at least one hour prior to slicing.

Notes

On very warm days or in a warm house, consider reducing the yeast to use one half teaspoon in your starter and loaf.
This bread will remain fresh for several days at room temperature. However, the salt on top may start to dissolve into the bread after a couple of days, so this pretzel loaf is best eaten fresh or sliced and frozen after cooling. To use your frozen pretzel bread, just pop it into the toaster.

Nutrition

Calories: 158kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 873mg | Potassium: 77mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 34IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg
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What’s next?

If you make this pretzel bread sandwich loaf, please leave a comment here or share a pic with me on Instagram!

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Previous challenges:
Week 1: New Year new recipe – blueberry galette
Week 2: seasonal – Smitten Kitchen’s grapefruit pound cake
Week 3: Great British Bake Off – Kate’s sticky toffee apple caramel cake
Week 4: Australia – sausage rolls
Week 5: bite sized – cookies
Week 6: Chinese New Year – mushroom bao
Week 7: new tool – baguette baker
Week 8: chocolate – chocolate peanut butter bonbons
Week 9: timed bake – under 1 hour! chocolate chip scones
Week 10: allergy/diet restriction – macarons
Week 11: quick breads – kale and cheese quick bread
Week 12: signature bake – purple cow bread
Week 13: enriched breads (kale and cheese babka fail)
Week 14: childhood favorite –fudgy triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate ganache frosting
Week 15: decorating challenge – purple velvet cake
Week 16: crispy crunchy – bacon cheddar popcorn
Week 17: p52 of a favorite cookbook, or your favorite blog – chocolate peanut butter drip cake
Week 18: pâte à choux – bacon cheese puffs
Week 19: veggies turned sweet – red velvet beet waffles
Week 20: plating – chocolate chip cookie (butter challenge)
Week 21: Birthday Party! – chocolate orange cake
Weed 22: Scandinavian – Swedish apple cake (plus a bonus sourdough discard apple cake)
Week 23: Layers – Pecan apple oat bars (post is pending)
Week 24: Tarts – rainbow fruit tart
Week 25: Bagels and donuts – maple donut cake
Week 26: Surprise inside – surprise heart yeast bread (pending)
Week 27: Local favorite – Rainier cherry crisp
Week 28: Seasonal ingredients – blackberry lemon bread
Week 29: French dessert – peanut butter banana clafoutis (a classic with non-classic flavors!)
Week 30: Savory baking – pizza
Week 31: Unusual ingredient – juniper lime drizzle cake
Week 32: Gelatin (homemade marshmallows) and 33: Picnic – peanut butter Rice Krispie treats
Week 34: Brunch – spinach and feta muffins
Week 35: Laminated dough – puff pastry cinnamon twists
Week 36: Friendship challenge – chocolate chip marshmallow cookie bars
Week 37: Sweet and salty – salted caramel chip chocolate cookies
Week 38: Decoration challenge – royal icing
Week 39: Buns and biscuits – challah buns
Week 40: West Indies – mini banana muffins with coconut
Week 41: Pantry challenge – chocolate chip pound cake
Week 42: Celebrity or tread – ube crinkle cookies
Week 43: No oven – salted caramel pudding
Week 44: Diwali – rose syrup for burfi and a French 75
Week 45: Fairy tale, novel, or TV – Miracle Max’s Miracle pill (aka coffee truffle)

Next week: Pie!

a loaf of pretzel bread on a cutting board.

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