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In a large bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and the yeast; set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir milk, sugar, oil and 1 teaspoon salt just until warm (120 to 130°F). Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in whole-wheat flour and as much of the remaining 1 to 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour as you can.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining all-purpose flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (about 1 1/4 hours).
Preheat oven to 475°F. Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease two large baking sheets; set aside.
Roll half of the dough into an 8x6-inch rectangle. Cut into twenty-four 8x1/4-inch strips. Repeat with the remaining dough. Gently pull strips into 10-inch ropes. Shape each pretzel by crossing one end over the other to form a circle, overlapping about 2 inches from each end. Take one end of dough in each hand and twist once at the point where the dough overlaps. Carefully lift each end across to the edge of the circle opposite it. Tuck ends under edges to make a pretzel shape; moisten ends and press to seal.
Carefully place pretzels on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 4 minutes. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
Meanwhile, generously grease two large baking sheets; set aside. In a large Dutch oven, bring 3 quarts water and 2 tablespoons salt to boiling. Add pretzels, three or four at a time, and boil gently for 2 minutes, turning once. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Let stand for a few seconds, then place about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
In a small bowl, combine egg white and 1 tablespoon water; brush over pretzels. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds and/or coarse salt. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden. Immediately remove from baking sheets; cool on wire racks.