1) Combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast into a bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes.
2) Mix in the melted butter and flour. If you have a mixer, just put on the dough hook and let it work until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should form a soft ball after about 4 or 5 minutes.
3) Without a mixer, to simulate a dough hook, dip your hand in a cup of water every few minutes and use it to mix the dough vigorously. After a few minutes it comes together in a nice ball. This dough does not need to pass the windowpane test.
4) After 5 minutes or so of kneading, transfer the dough to a bowl that has been coated with vegetable oil and turn it a few times to coat the dough ball with oil. Cover it and let it sit at room temperature for 60 minutes to rise.
5) Take the dough and divide it evenly (a dough cutter is helpful here) into 8 pieces. Each piece should weigh about 4 ounces.
6) Roll the dough out into about a 2 foot strip, starting from the center and rolling out gently. If it isn’t stretching you can hold the dough by both ends and gently whip it up and down. It will loosen up the gluten a bit. Then take the left end and wrap it to the center and then overlay the right side. Then kind of adjust it so it’s pretzel-like.
7) Bring the water and baking soda to a rolling boil and gently lay in a pretzel, one or two at a time. You’ll need a pretty good sized pot. The pretzel will float and after about 30 seconds, flip it over in the water with a spatula to get the other side. Then after another 30 gently lift it out and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet, ready to go for the oven.
8) Once the pretzels come out of the boil, brush them with some egg wash (1 egg and 1 Tablespoon water) and then sprinkle them generously with the pretzel salt.
9) Bake at 450 degrees for about 14 minutes.
10) Immediately move them to a cooling rack.
11) After they cool you can pile them high on a plate. Or eat them right away! I like mine with just a bit of mustard.