Make Preferment: Whisk white whole-wheat flour, water and pinch of yeast in a large bowl. Cover and let sit on the counter overnight, or refrigerate 20 hours.
Make Dough: Stir bread flour, softened butter, salt, 1 teaspoon yeast, and barley syrup into the preferment until it is too difficult to work with a spoon, and then work with hands in the bowl until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the ball of dough is smooth and elastic. (Do not mix in extra flour. The dough will seem a little tacky at first, but will improve in texture as you work it.) Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with plastic and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
Prepare Water Bath: Bring water and baking soda to a boil in a large flame-proof roasting pan, or large wide pot. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Meanwhile, turn-out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and flatten and cut into 8 equal pieces, about 3 ½ ounces each. See photos for snake technique. Roll each dough into long even ropes, about 22-inches long. Shape into pretzel by forming a loop at the bottom and then twisting the top over one time. Wrap the tails down to the opposite bottom side and press them down to adhere.
Transfer four pretzels to the boiling baking soda bath and allow to blanch until they are puffed up, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the pretzels to a clean dish towel to drain off the excess moisture before transferring them to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the second batch, making sure that the water comes to a boil again before adding them to the bath.
Top Pretzels: Brush all of the pretzels with the egg using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the coarse salt and seeds over the pretzels. Bake until dark golden and the exterior is set up, 12 to 14 minutes.