How to cook
Heat the oven to 446°F (230 °C). Cover an oven dish with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.
Put the dry yeast and white sugar in 1 cup (240 ml) water and leave it to bubble for about 10-15 min.
Combine the flour, brown sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir. Gradually add the yeast and mix with the mixer on a low setting. Add the melted butter. Beat with the mixer on a medium setting until you get a nice ball of dough (about 5 min.) that comes off the walls of the bowl.
Form the dough into a bowl and put it in a lightly greased bowl, turning it from all sides so it gets greased well. Leave it to rise for about 1 hour. Once the dough is ready, press down on it with your hands to drive the air out of it and leave it to rest for about 5 min.
Divide the dough into 6 equal-sized balls, about 3.5 oz (105 g) each and cover them with a towel. Take one of the balls and form it into a 23 1/2″ (60 cm) strip - it needs to be fatter in the middle and thinner toward the edges.
Shape it into a horseshoe and cross the 2 ends inward, leaving about 2″ (5 cm) of space between the very ends. Moisten them lightly with water so you can stick them to the thicker part of the dough. Tuck them underneath the horseshoe and press them to the dough well. Place them on baking paper.
Heat 8 1/3 cups (2 L) water with the baking soda on the stove until the water comes to a boil and drop each pretzel in it for about 30 sec. on each side with a slotted spoon.
Take them out and arrange them on the oven dish with aluminum foil. Smear them with beaten egg yolk with cream, sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 446°F (230 °C) for 10-15 min.
Source: Austrian cuisine.
Notes: I don't normally use whole wheat flour, so I used white Italian flour for cakes instead. It's very silky and not exactly good for making harder doughs and I had to add another 3 tbsp of flour to form a nice ball of dough. You can also use pizza dough. I don't think it's that important for this recipe and I think plain flour is fine for making wonderful pretzels.
I used cooking spray to smear the aluminum foil but you can use anything else you like to grease it. The important thing is for the foil to be well greased, otherwise they'll stick to it.
To get the balls of dough the exact size I used an electronic scale.
Another key point is to keep track of the seconds with a watch when boiling the pretzels because if they're in there for too long the dough will fall apart.