1. Mix and knead the dough ingredients — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a cohesive, fairly smooth dough. It should be slightly sticky; if it seems dry, knead in another tablespoon or two of water.

  2. Cover the dough and let it rest for 45 minutes. It will rise minimally.

  3. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and fold it over a few times to gently deflate it.

  5. Put the water into a large, shallow pan — the water should be about 3" deep — and add the baking soda and malt powder. Bring the water to a boil while you're shaping the pretzels.

  6. Divide the dough into 12 pieces; if you have a scale, each piece will weigh about 2 1/4 ounces.

  7. Roll each piece of dough into an 18" rope, allowing the ropes to rest for a brief period if they start to shrink back.

  8. Shape each rope into a pretzel and place them on two parchment-lined baking sheets.

  9. Reduce the boiling water bath to a very gentle simmer. Gently transfer the pretzels, 3 or 4 at a time, to the water bath.

  10. Simmer the pretzels for about 30 seconds on each side, then return them to the baking sheet.

  11. Brush the pretzels with the beaten egg/water and sprinkle with the topping.

  12. Bake the pretzels for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're a light golden brown.

  13. Remove the pretzels from the oven, and cool on a rack.