I found this wonderful recipe and have been making big soft pretzels like crazy. My husband is nuts for them!
Makes 6 large pretzels
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon malt powder or brown sugar
2-3 cups all-purpose unbleached or bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk (approximately 110 degrees, which is 1 minute in my microwave)
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until it forms a ball. I start with 2 cups of the flour and mix it together until it forms something like a thick batter, then add more flour a handful at a time until it'll form a nice ball that I can knead by hand.
Either use an electric mixer to mix the dough for 5 minutes or remove it from the bowl and knead it by hand for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough begins to get smooth and satiny.
Before shaping, start preheating the oven to 425 degrees.
Cut the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each one into a short log, cover with a towel, and let the dough relax for 5 to 10 minutes. After it has relaxed you should be able to roll it out and stretch again fairly easily.
I let them relax again and then gave each a third roll and stretch session before they were as long and thin as I wanted (about 18 inches long and about as big around as my index finger). They'll nearly double in width while baking, so it is ok to roll them out quite thin.
Shaping pretzels is simple, once you get a hang of it. Place a rope of dough on the work surface in front of you. Take each end in a hand, loop the dough away from you, and bring the ends back toward your stomach, crossing them about an inch above the rope. Apply a little bit of pressure to make the loops stick together, but not too much because you don't want then to flatten out.
Pretzels don't appear to need to rise again before baking, so you just need to figure out how you want to prep them for the oven.
To eggwash them (my favorite way): Simply place them on a baking sheet, brush them gently with an egg that has been whisked, then sprinkle with coarse salt or other toppings.
To bake them (mostly) dry: Sprinkle or spritz them with a little bit of water so that the toppings will stick, then sprinkle with coarse salt or other toppings.
Place the baking sheets into the oven. I sprinkle the baking sheet with corn meal to keep them from sticking. It took around 15 minutes for my pretzels to get golden and brown. Remove from the oven and eat immediately.
If you save some for the next day, they will be a bit tough. Just put them in the oven for a few minutes to revive them.