A coating of butter and sugar makes these tender pretzels especially delicious; they're excellent with tea or coffee. Slideshow: Perfecting Pretzels
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the warm milk with the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. Add the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom and 1/4 cup of the sugar and mix at medium speed, scraping down the side of the bowl, until a shaggy dough forms, about 2 minutes. Add the stick of butter and mix until the dough comes together and is smooth and shiny, about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a loose ball and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to an 8-by-12-inch rectangle, with a long side facing you. Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over the bottom half of the dough. Fold the buttered half over the top half and press down gently; you should have a 4-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut the dough crosswise into twelve 1-inch-wide strips.
Twist each piece of dough into a 12-inch-long rope. To form pretzels, shape each rope into a U; cross the 2 sides of the U over each other, twist and press the ends down to form a pretzel shape. Arrange the pretzels about 1 inch apart on 2 parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425°. Bake the pretzels for 12 to 15 minutes, shifting the pans once, until pale golden. Let cool slightly.
Place the remaining 1 1/4 cups of sugar in a bowl. Put the melted butter in another bowl. While the pretzels are still warm, brush them all over with the melted butter and roll them in sugar to evenly coat. Transfer to a rack to cool before serving.
The pretzels can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month.