In a stand mixer bowl, add warm water, sugar, salt; sprinkle one package active dry yeast and let sit for 5 minutes; don't stir it! After 5 minutes, the yeast will begin to form a foam. This is good. If it doesn't form a foam, start over because your yeast died due to the water not being the correct temperatureNOTE: use a thermometer to test the temperature of the water; it MUST be between 110ºF - 115ºF.
Pour the flour and melted butter into the water/yeast mixture and combine using the dough hook of the stand mixer; mix on low until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl; (5-10 minutes)
Take the dough out of the stand mixer bowl; clean bowl with soap and water; dry; pour some oil on a paper towel and run it along the inside of the clean mixing bowl; put the dough back in the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap; place in a warm area (heat rises, so I put it on top of the fridge); let the dough sit for 50 minutes (until it has doubled in size)
Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat the paper with oil
Once the dough has doubled, punch it once with your fist, then turn it out onto a lightly oiled surface; (NOT FLOUR)
Form a big ball with the dough and cut it into quarters; then cut the quarters into half; you will have 8 balls of dough
Bring water and baking soda to rolling boil;
Preheat oven to 450ºF
With lightly oiled hands, take each small dough ball and turn it out into a long, skinny strand, about 18-24 inches in length
Form a "U" with the strand of dough, then, holding each end, bring it down to the base of the "U". Lightly pinch where the strands cross and where they meet at the base of the "U"
Form all the pretzels at once; after each pretzel is formed, place it on the oiled parchment paper (this keeps the dough from shrinking)
Once all pretzels are formed, using a spatula or spider, gently lower one pretzel dough at a time into the boiling water; let it boil for 30 seconds; you might have to hold the spatula/spider in the water for a bit-or until the pretzel floats; if the pretzel comes apart in the boiling water, remove it immediately and reshape it, and place it back in the boiling water
After each pretzel is removed from the boiling water, place it on the oiled parchment sheet
Once all pretzels are boiled, separate one large egg and place the yolk in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of water; beat lightly
Using a pastry brush, lightly coat each pretzel with the egg wash; sprinkle pretzels with course sea salt
Place in oven and bake 15 minutes, or until pretzels are golden brown
Remove pretzels from baking pan and place on cooling rack
The most challenging part of making pretzels is keeping them shaped in the boiling water; if they start to fall apart, you can either remove the dough, re-shape it and place it back into the boiling water, or
Form pretzel balls! Just roll the dough into bite size portions, boil for 30 seconds, place on sheet, and continue process.
Americans generally dip pretzels in mustard, but the Germans and Austrians dipped them in melted butter!
Dip them in the sauce of your choice, mustard, butter, hummus, peanut butter, chocolate!!!