1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast 1 1/2 cups warm water (110° to 115°) 2 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons butter, melted 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 4 to 4 1/2 cups AP flour 8 cups water 1/2 cup baking soda 1 egg yolk 1 tablespoon cold water Coarse salt, optional
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, butter, salt and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups water and baking soda to a boil. Punch dough down; divide into 12 portions. Roll each into a log and then make into a regular pretzel shape. Add to boiling water, a few at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.
Place on greased baking sheets. Lightly beat egg yolk and cold water; brush over pretzels. Sprinkle with the salt. Bake 425° for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks. Serve warm.