Dissolve the yeast in the water, and then put all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook.
Start the mixer and knead on medium-low speed for 8 minutes.
When the dough is soft and springy, remove it from the mixer, put it in a large greased bowl. Spray the top of the dough with a little vegetable oil to keep a skin from forming. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
Once the dough has doubled in volume, gently press out the gasses. Divide the dough into 3 oz. pieces. This recipe makes about 12 pretzels, so if you don't want to weigh the dough, divide the dough in thirds and divide each third into fourths.
Roll each piece of dough into a 2 foot long rope. Twist into a pretzel shape, or whatever shape you like, really.
Place the pretzels on two greased cookie sheets or half sheet pans. Do not line them with parchment. I learned the hard way that this is a bad idea. Trust me.
Put the pretzels in the freezer until very firm. This step is not strictly necessary, but it makes it much easier to poach them and put them back on trays without their losing their shape.
Once the pretzels are frozen, bring 10 cups of water (1/2 gallon plus 1 pint) to a boil with ½ cup baking soda.
When the water is boiling, turn the heat down some to keep it at a gentle boil, and place three frozen pretzels in the water. After one minute, carefully remove the pretzels with a large slotted spoon or a spider and put them back on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the pretzels have taken a 60-second dip in the water.
Whisk one egg together with a teaspoon of water. Brush this egg wash evenly on all the pretzels. Don't glob it on; you just need a thin coat. At this point, you can sprinkle them with kosher salt, but it will tend to sink in, not giving you that cool salted pretzel look. They'll still taste great. If you're looking for a salt that won't melt, you can certainly purchase pretzel salt through Amazon. It is inexpensive and goes a long way.
At the restaurant, we wanted to "fancy them up a bit," so we used a light sprinkle of sel gris on the pretzels. This gives a wonderful result, but sel gris is pretty expensive. It's your call. You could also sprinkle them with poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
Bake at 400° F until deeply golden brown (pretzel colored), about 15 minutes. For the most even baking, turn the baking sheets after about 8 minutes.