In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the lukewarm water, instant yeast, salt, and granulated sugar. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
1 ½ cups Lukewarm Water, 2 ¼ teaspoon Instant Quick Rise Yeast, 1 teaspoon Salt, 1 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
Add in the bread flour and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until the dough forms. Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue to mix the dough for another 4-5 minutes or until the dough is soft and smooth and easily pulls away from the sides. If the dough still sticky, you can add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of bread flour.Alternatively, you can mix the dough together until its just combined, then transfer to a clean, lightly floured work surface to knead by hand for 5-7 minutes until it's smooth and soft in texture.
4 cups Bread Flour
Shape into a ball then cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
While your dough rests, adjust your oven to the 2nd level rack (just above center) and preheat your oven to 450ºF. Prep 2 baking sheets lined with silicone baking mats (highly recommended) or parchment paper lightly sprayed with a flour-based baking spray or non-stick oil cooking spray (without it the pretzels will stick).
Before shaping your pretzels, prepare your baking soda bath by adding the water and baking soda to a large pot, stir together, then bring to a boil. I also mix together the egg wash mixture at this time then set it aside.
4 tablespoon Baking Soda, 8 cups Water
Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the pretzel dough into 8 equally sized pieces. I cut mine as if I were making triangular scones. Alternatively, you can cut and weigh each piece to ensure they are all the same size.
On a clean work surface, roll one piece of dough out to 24 inches in length. Overlap the two ends forming a teardrop shape. Twist together once, then fold over bringing the ends just past the bottom of the pretzel (see images and/or video for guidance). Press down gently where they meet to form the pretzel. Place onto the prepared baking sheet, then repeat until all pretzels are shaped.
Place 1 soft pretzel into the boiling baking soda bath and leave in for no more than 30 seconds (use a timer). Remove each pretzel with a fine mesh strainer or flat slotted spatula, carefully letting any excess liquid drip off, then place back onto the baking sheet. The pretzels will puff up slightly during the bath and can't be reshaped. Repeat until all 8 pretzels have been bathed in the baking soda bath.
Brush on the egg wash mixture and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
1 Large Egg Yolk, 1 tablespoon Water, 2 tablespoon Pretzel Salt
Bake for 12-14 minutes at 450ºF or until your soft pretzels have a nice shiny, medium golden brown color.
Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool slightly before serving with your favorite mustard and/or cheese sauce.
Homemade soft pretzels can be kept in a well-sealed container at room temperature for up to 3 days (reheating in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to bring them back to life). They also freeze wonderfully too! Let the pretzels cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and place in a sealed container or Ziploc bag. Reheat by baking them in a 350ºF preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Frozen pretzels keep for 1 month.