"This is a traditional New Year treat in Germany. It brings luck when it's the first thing you eat in the New Year. Germans typically eat it with butter spread on it. Rather than a salty pretzel, this is a lightly sweet dough. I converted and translated this from metric measurement and German language, and it turned out just wonderfully!"
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup milk in a bowl; add 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Let stand until the yeast softens and begins to form a creamy foam, about 5 minutes.
Stir yeast mixture and 2 1/4 cups flour together in a bowl until dough is dry and clumpy. Allow dough to rise for 15 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup milk, butter, egg, lemon zest, and salt to dough until evenly mixed.
Knead dough, adding more flour as needed, until dough is elastic. Cover bowl with a clean damp towel or plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 390 degrees F (199 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.
Gently knead dough; roll into a long rope on the prepared baking sheet and twist into a pretzel shape. Cover dough with a clean towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for 15 minutes more.
Brush egg yolk over dough and sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar over egg yolk.
Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.