1 - In a large bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, salt and 2 cups flour. Warm 1 1/2 cups water in the microwave until it registers 120F - 130F on a thermometer. Add the water the 1 tablespoon oil to the flour mixture. Using a electric mixer, beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
2 - Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add 2 cups flour (1/2 cup at a time), mixing until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in 1/2 cup of the remaining flour until dough is smooth (adding more flour if sticky), about 5 minutes.
3 - Coat a large bowl with the remaining tablespoon oil. Place the dough into the bowl, then turn so it oiled-side up. Cover with a clean towel and let rest in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes.
4 - Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and cut into 8 pieces. With lightly floured hands, roll each piece into a 1/2-inch rope (about 30-inches long). Working with one rope at a time, shape the pretzels. Make a U shape and, holding each end of the rope, cross them over and twist them around each other twice, then press onto the bottom of the U (dot with water to help the ends stick). Place on baking sheep. Repeat with the remaining dough.
5 - Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet, bring 5 cups water and the baking soda to a simmer. Drop 2 pretzels (top down) into the water and simmer for 30 seconds; flip and simmer 30 seconds more. Using a large spatula, transfer back to the baking sheet. Sprinkle with desired toppings. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.
6 - Bake, switching the position of the pans halfway through, until dark golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
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