In a bowl of your standing mixer (or a large bowl), with a whisk or a fork stir together 2 teaspoons of yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1 cup water until yeast and sugar have dissolved completely.
Add 4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon soft butter. With dough hook attachment (or your hands), knead the dough until smooth and elastic ball forms. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
Transfer dough to a clean surface, punch it down, and, with your hands, knead for a minute. Using a knife or a pastry cutter/scraper, slice the dough into eight equal pieces as you would cut a pie (cut first in half, then into quarters and finally into eighths). Form each part into a small ball. With a rolling pin, roll out each ball into a circle (around 8-in in diameter).
Spread 1 tablespoon each of the soft butter onto seven circles, leaving the eight unbuttered. Stack dough circles, buttered side up, on top of each other with the last circle being the one without the butter. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
Remove dough from the refrigerator. Slice again into eight wedges. Working in batches, carefully submerge the corners into the simmering lye bath and allow floating for about 20 seconds, turning over once. With a slotted turner/spatula, gently transfer dough corners to drain then place onto the prepared baking sheet with a little space between them.
Sprinkle with coarse salt and bake for about 20 minutes or until a rich brown. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool. Enjoy!
Take the butter (a total of 8 tbsp) out of the refrigerator ahead of time. You want it to be really soft, but not liquid. If you forgot, melt one tablespoon to mix into the dough and keep the rest on the counter to soften while your dough is rising.
I used fast rising instant yeast, but you can use rapid rise or yeast you like. Here's a good explanation of yeast types.
The dough will rise faster if you keep it in a warm place. Place it close to the stove if you have something cooking or in a sunny spot somewhere. I sometimes heat my oven to 175F, place the bowl inside, and keep the door ajar. Just make sure your bowl is heat resistant even though the oven temperature is low. To be safe, don't use plastic or glass bowls. :)
You don't have to be precise when rolling the dough out in circles. Keep in mind that the larger the circles, the thinner the corners will turn out. I rolled them to around 8 inches.
Do not keep the corners in the lye bath for longer than 20 seconds. Gently put them in with a slotted spatula and gently remove. Alternatively, you can brush the lye all over the pretzel corners with a pastry brush.
Some layers might slide off. Don't worry - carefully place them back where they belong. They'll stick to each other while baking.
Do not use table salt to sprinkle on top of pretzels. If you don't have large-grained salt, leave them as is or top them with sesame, sunflower, or poppy seeds as an alternative.
Oven temperatures vary. Make sure to check on the corners during the last 5 minutes of baking and adjust the time accordingly. Best to use the convection bake setting if available.