For the Dough:
1 1/2 cups very warm water (115 degrees fahrenheit)
(1) Package Rapid Rise Yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/4 cups bread flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
8 cups water
Scant 1 cup baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water
For the Dough:
In a medium bowl combine the water, yeast, sugar, and salt; let sit for 5-8 minutes, or until foamy.
In the body of a stand mixer using the hook attachment add the flour, butter, and foam mixture and beat on medium speed for 12 minutes, allowing the hook to knead the dough.
Cover the dough with a warm, moist towel, and let rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees (F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a large, wide pot combine water and baking soda and bring to a boil.
While the water is coming to a boil, roll out your pretzels!
Divide the dough into 8 pieces, trying to make them as equal as possible. Roll each piece out into a long rope (about 16 inches) and then shape into a U. Fold each end of the U over each other to achieve the perfect pretzel shape. Press the ends together, pinching the dough together well.
One at a time, place pretzels into boiling water and cook for 25 seconds before removing with a slotted spatula and transferring to the prepared baking sheet.
Brush the tops and sides of each pretzel with the egg wash. Add salt here if you like.
Place pan in the oven to bake for 13-15 minutes.
Transfer pretzels to a cooling wrack to cool completely.