making soft pretzels last week, but one of the best parts had to be shaping each pretzel. It was like being five again and playing with playdough! Of course, you can shape your pretzels any way your heart desires, but if you're craving a classic twist, here's how you do it: Start by shaping the lump of dough into a cigar and then use the palms of your hands to roll it back and forth against the counter. Work from the middle of the dough and gently press outward as you roll to lengthen the rope.
Roll the rope of dough as long as you can - at least 18 inches or even a bit more. Because the dough has a tendency to shrink back on itself, it helps to roll it out partway, let it rest for a few minutes, and then roll it the rest of the way.
Next, take either end of the rope in your finger tips and draw them together so the dough forms a circle.
Twist the ends of the rope together once or twice, depending on your preference.
Then bring the twisted end toward yourself and fold it down onto the bottom curve. Use a bit of water or milk to wet the ends and make them stick them onto the dough. That's it! Let the pretzels rise until they're puffy, give them a quick bath in boiling water, and bake them off! What other shapes do you do when making pretzels? Related: Baking Technique: How to Shape a Round Loaf (Images: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)