Warm the milk up to about 110 F. Sprinkle the sugar and the active dry yeast.Be careful not to warm the milk so hot, so it dos not kill your yeast. Let it sit for about 10 min, until it gets a bit foamy. After 10 min, add in the salt, the softened butter, also add half of the flour. Mix with a wooden spoon till the mix comes together, add the remaining flour, stir again until it comes together. Use your fingers to scrape down the sides of your bowl, so you can incorporate everything.
Sprinkle some flour on your working surface, start knitting. Knit for about 1-2 min. You don;t want to overwork it. You want to knit it to develop a little bit of the gluten. After you knit it, get a large bowl, put some vegetable oil. Swirl the dough around, put in the bowl. Cover it with a moist towel, so the dough doesn't dry out. Cover and let it rise for 1 hour. Until it is doubled.
While the dough is rising, make the baking soda solution with 1 cup of nearly boiling water, add the baking soda. Whisk it together, until the baking soda is dissolved. This is what is going to give your pretzel the signature flavor, as well as texture. Once this is mix, set off to the side.
Take your doubled in size dough out of your bowl, put it on your working surface9 no flouring). Cut your dough into 6 equal pieces. Does not have to be exact-just eye bowl it. Work with one of the pieces at a time. Take one piece of the dough and using your fingertips only, roll it out to about a 30 inch long. Make sure is evenly and consistently diameter from one end to the other. Make like a horse shoes shape with the two end pointing towards you. Take those two end put one over the other, then cross over again, then take your two ends and folded up and pinch it onto the end. You have created your classic pretzel shape
Take your pretzel and gently lay it down to your baking soda solution. You want to leave in there for 5-10 sec, and carefully lift and place it on cooking sheet, Heavily grease your pan, because this will stick. While pretzels are still wet, take your salt and sprinkle that salt on top. Preheat your oven to 450F-Bake them 10-13 min, untill nicely golden brown. Once they are brown, brush them with melted butter. If you want a hard pretzels, skip the butter part. Bon apetit!