Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 dash salt
1 1/2 cups 110 degree water
4 cups bread flour
1 Tbls. baking soda
1/4 cup warm water
melted real butter

Combine first 4 ingredients; allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Stir flour to mixture and knead for 5 minutes.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Divide dough into 8-12 equal-size pieces; roll each piece into a rope; shape each rope into a pretzel.
In a shallow dish, stir baking soda into warm water; dip pretzels into mixture (or brush mixture over pretzels); lay coated pretzel onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake in a 550 degree oven for 8 minutes, or until golden brown.
Brush melted butter onto hot pretzels.

Notes: For salted pretzels, sprinkle with pretzel salt or Kosher salt. For cinnamon-sugar pretzels, stir 2 Tbls. honey into the melted butter before brushing on pretzels, then sprinkle with a mixture of 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon. For Parmesan pretzels, sprinkle with a mixture of 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp. garlic salt; serve with marinara sauce.