2½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2¼ teaspoons (7g) instant yeast
1 cup warm water
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp baking soda
Coarse, kosher or pretzel salt, optional
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl and beat until well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for 5 to 8 minutes, until it's soft, smooth, and elastic, then proceed to last step.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 30 minutes.
To make the topping: While the dough is rising, prepare the topping. Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally (or almost totally) dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm (or cooler).
Preheat your oven to 475°. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable oil spray, or lining it with parchment paper.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 70g each).
Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Pour the baking soda/water into a 9" square pan.
Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28" to 30" long), and twist each rope into a pretzel shape. Working with four pretzels at a time, place them in the pan with the baking soda/water, spooning the water over their tops; leave them in the water for 2 minutes before placing them on the baking sheet. This baking soda bath will give the pretzels lovely golden-brown color.
Transfer the pretzels to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt, if desired. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Bake the pretzels for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they're golden brown.
Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you've used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that's what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave.