Place the 1/2 cup water, milk, sugar, flours, salt, and yeast in the bread pan. Set the machine on dough. When the cycle ends, remove the dough to a lightly oiled surface.
To make the dough by hand:
Warm the water and milk slightly and combine it with the sugar and yeast. Let that rest for 5 minutes. Then add the flours and salt. Stir until you have a sticky dough but all the flour is incorporated. Turn it onto a floured surface and knead until the dough becomes elastic. Set into a greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
Once the dough is ready:
Preheat the oven to 450°. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a long snake, about 18 inches long. Shape the snake into a horseshoe. Twist the sides of the horseshoe, about halfway up, around each other twice. Flip the ends over onto the U of the horseshoe. Press to seal. Continue until all the pretzels are shaped.
Meanwhile, bring the 8 cups water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add the baking soda and continue to boil. Drop the formed pretzels, one at a time into the soda bath. Boil for about 30 seconds and remove to the prepared parchment. Sprinkle with coarse salt, if desired.
Once all the pretzels have been “bathed,” bake them for 9 to 10 minutes or until golden. Remove them to a rack to cool.
Store cooled pretzels in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
To freeze: Place the cooled pretzels (unbuttered) in a ziptop freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw, wrapped, on the countertop at room temperature. You can reheat them in a warm oven for five minutes to freshen them.Nutritional values are approximate and based on 1 pretzel.