If you’ve ever walked by a pretzel stand and witnessed the absolute magic of a pro slinging a strand of dough into the perfect twist, you may have been slightly intimidated by the process. To the untrained eye, that string weaves a confusing path. You don’t need that level of dexterity to make pretzels at home; even professionals have to start somewhere. Like most new skills, just take it one twist at a time. Here’s a step by step guide to help.
Whether you’ve made your own dough or decided to cheat it with a premade ball of pizza dough, divide it evenly on a lightly floured surface. Using both of your open palms, roll out one piece into a long strand. Imagine being a child and making a Play-Doh snake, or just give this job to a non-imaginary child. The longer the strand, the bigger the pretzel, but I usually stick to a half-inch to one-inch thickness. Don’t roll it too thin or the pretzel will be hard to lift and boil later.
Make a U-shape with the dough. Bring the two ends closer to the center. Cross the left end over the right, about halfway up the strand. Cross the new left-side strand over the new right-side strand. Twist it, if that terminology is more comprehensible.
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This is where it all comes together. Lift the two strand-ends together, but keep the bottom of the original U-shape seated on the countertop. Drop the two ends down toward your body, so they reach the bottom of the U-shape. You should see the general pretzel shape now. If you’d like, pull at the two top loops a little to stretch them upward until you’re happy with the shape.
Dab a little water where the strand-ends meet the rest of the dough and press so they stick well. You don’t want them to unravel in the boiling water.
This twisting method can be used with giant german pretzels, New York style soft pretzels, or crunchy small pretzels. Proceed to boil and salt them as your recipe indicates, and bake as usual.