For the Sponge:
Dissolve the yeast in the water in a large mixing bowl that will later be the bowl for the mixing machine. Add enough bread flour to create a pancake batter consistency. Lightly cover with plastic and store at room temperature for 4 to 24 hours.
For the dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer that is fitted with a dough hook, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the sponge from above. Add sugar, vegetable oil and salt. Start the mixer and add flour, 2 cups at a time, until the mixture forms a dough ball that doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl and starts to climb up the dough hook. Transfer to a lightly floured table and knead for 10 minutes by hand. Cover and let the dough rest and proof to twice the size, about 45 minutes.
Push the dough back down, and form pretzel sticks by rolling the dough thin with your hands. Twist into pretzel shapes. Line the finished pretzels on a baking sheet so they do not touch or stick together. Allow them to proof at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
For the poaching liquid:
Bring the water to a medium boil. Add the salt and baking soda. Poach the pretzels for 30 seconds on each side and transfer to a baking dish lined with cornmeal. Brush with the egg wash and season with desired ingredients (sesame seeds, salt, cracked pepper). Bake until lightly browned. Allow to cool completely before serving.
This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy of Scott Leibfried