1 packet active dry yeast (scant tablespoon)
1 C. warm water (115 to 120°F. — NOT boiling)
2-3/4 C. flour
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 T. vegetable oil or softened butter
4 C. water
2 T. baking soda
2 T. coarse salt
Add yeast to warm water; let sit 5 minutes.
Combine 1-1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt and oil in a large mixing bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir until well-combined. Add remaining 1-1/4 cups flour. Knead dough 3 minutes; form into a ball. Let sit 1 hour. Dough should double in size.
Divide dough into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a ball (dust hands with flour to prevent sticking). Place balls on a cookie sheet or lightly floured surface. Let rest 15 minutes.
Roll each ball into a 16-inch length and form into a pretzel shapes. Or, divide each ball in half and roll each half into a 3-inch stick, about 3/4-inch wide. Let rest a few minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 475°F. Grease a large cookie sheet. In a non-aluminum pot, bring remaining 4 cups water to a boil with baking soda.
Add pretzels to the boiling water in batches (do not crowd pot) and boil 1 minute, turning once. Shake off excess water. Place pretzels on cookie sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake 10 minutes, until golden brown. Best eaten right out of the oven.
Makes 12 large pretzels or 24 sticks.