1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons real salt
2 t instant or Rapid Rise yeast
4 1/2 Cups whole wheat flour
4 T butter, melted
Olive oil, for pan
1/2 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt or any course salt (for topping)
Combine the water, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl. Add the flour and butter and, using your hands knead the dough until well combined. Dough should be smooth and pull away from the side of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with olive oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the olive oil. Set aside.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 9 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Kid #1 was very pleased that he was able to shape it without help.