When it comes to making the perfect pizza, there are a lot of tools and gadgets out there that claim to be very helpful. You might be wondering, what is a pizza docker and what does it do?
A dough docker is a tool that is similar to a spiked rolling pin. It is designed to help remove trapped gas from the dough and prevent bubbles from forming while it bakes.
Read ahead in this article to find out more about this strange-looking device, and whether or not it can actually help you to make a great pizza.
What Exactly Is a Pizza Docker?
If you’ve never really heard of this gadget, or laid eyes on one, it can seem pretty strange. A dough docker is a handheld tool that is shaped like a paint roller, with a sort of spiked rolling pin at the end of it.
Honestly, it kind of looks like a torture device or something that could be tilling a field, but don’t worry – it’s not going to hurt your pizza!
You might also have heard of this device referred to in another way, as there are a lot of different names for this tool. It can also be called a:
- Roller Docker
- Rolling Docker
- Dough Docker
What Is a Pizza Docker For?
Although it is sometimes known as a pizza docker, the tool itself is not just used for making pizza – it can be applied to almost any kind of dough.
What it does is pierce the top of the dough with lots of little holes, which allows trapped gas to escape. This prevents the dough from rising too much and helps to reduce the likelihood of large bubbles forming while the dough is being baked. It will not stop all bubbles from appearing, but it will help.
When it comes to pizza, you might use a docker to try and stop too many big blisters from forming in the crust.
What is a Roller Docker Commonly Used For?
There are a lot of different applications for this utensil besides pizza. In some ways, it is even more useful for other kinds of dough. A dough docker is generally used for:
- Bread dough
- Cracker dough
- Pastry dough
- Tart dough
- Pie crusts
- Pizza dough
Not every dough is going to be improved by docking, though. In fact, many dough recipes are designed to give as much rise as possible, and an uneven structure is actively encouraged for better texture and bounce.
Do Most People Use a Pizza Docker?
You might never have come across a rolling docker at all in your day-to-day life, and that’s not particularly surprising. It’s far from a common utensil and very few people will have them in their homes.
It’s quite a specialized device that you are not likely to find outside of a professional bakery. It’s a good time-saving tool for bakers that need to dock lots of dough throughout the day.
Interestingly, though, not many authentic pizzerias will even own a docker, let alone use one on a regular basis. They are used in some chain restaurants, though, like Papa John’s, to achieve uniformity across their pizzas and allow them to work with chilled dough.
How Do You Use a Pizza Docker?
If you do want to try out a dough docker for yourself, it’s very straightforward. The device has a handle that makes it very easy to hold, then all you have to do is roll it across your dough before you put it into the oven to bake.
It’s designed to make things as simple as possible, but here are a few tips to make sure you’re using it correctly.
- Apply firm, even pressure. You don’t need to be too forceful with a docker, but you do want to apply enough pressure for the spikes to actually penetrate the dough.
- Be methodical. To make sure the holes are evenly spaced, you don’t want to go over the same bit of dough more than once.
- Dock the whole surface. If you do choose to dock your pizza dough, you don’t want to leave any areas out.
Can You Dock Your Pizza Dough Without a Docker?
If you are very keen on the idea of docking your dough, or you find it to be an essential part of the process, do you really need a rolling docker to get this job done? Technically, you can dock your dough in many different ways, without using a specialized tool.
All you have to do is poke lots of holes into your dough with something else instead. The most common docking tool in home baking is probably the humble fork. If you’ve ever made a pie, you’ve probably pricked the base of your pastry with a fork before putting it into the oven – and that’s docking!
A pizza docker does, however, make the process a lot easier and more efficient. If you use a fork, it can be tricky to get all of your holes evenly spaced and at the right depth. A roller docker makes sure that you have just the right number of holes in just the right place – all over your dough.
Should You Be Docking Your Pizza Dough?
Now that we know all about this funky device – including what it’s for, and how to use it – we should get on to perhaps the most important question: do you actually need one for making pizza dough? Although some chefs do use them, the vast majority of authentic pizzerias don’t use a rolling docker, or dock their pizza dough at all for that matter!
If you want to make a traditional Italian-style pizza, then docking your dough is a little counterproductive. Part of the beauty of a classic pizza is that it is not a flat, plate-like circle. Really, a pizza should have some bubbles in the crust and a bit of texture to it.
You should also only use a docker if you are cooking your pizza in high heat for a very short amount of time. If you put a docked pizza in the oven for 10 minutes or more, the sauce can bleed into the dough, making it softer and causing it to stick to the tray.
You would almost never see an Italian chef docking their pizza dough. If you’re forming, resting, and baking your dough properly, then it shouldn’t come out too uneven and bubbly – even if you don’t dock it at all.
Why Does Your Pizza Dough Have Too Many Bubbles?
If you are having problems with the number of bubbles in your dough, or you are finding your pizzas have a much too uneven texture, then it is probably not just a lack of docking that’s responsible.
To prevent your dough from forming lots of bubbles, you should make sure that you:
- Let your dough rest. Proper pizza dough should be given time to ferment in a cooler, preferably overnight. Fresh dough is much more likely to form big bubbles.
- Bake from room temperature. It’s important to let your dough come up to room temperature before you start baking if you want to prevent bubbles from forming.
- Perfect your recipe. The wrong quantities of any of your ingredients can lead your dough to be more prone to bubbling, particularly if it is not proofed properly. Your dough should be soft and stretchy so that it will easily spread into a thin circle.
A docker can help as well, but it’s important to remember that docking is not a guarantee that your pizza will be bubble-free. If there’s an issue with your dough, then a rolling docker may not be enough to save you.
When Should You Use a Pizza Docker?
With all of that being said, you might still find a docker really useful for making pizza, depending on how you work and what you want the end result to be.
If you are after a uniform, flat texture across the entire pizza then a docker can be helpful. A lot of people like their pizza to come out this way, and it is closer to the New York style. It’s particularly effective if you want a really thin, really tough crust that is a bit like a cracker.
A docker can also be useful when you’re working with chilled dough, or dough that has not had time to properly ferment. Don’t forget, though, that it is best to bake docked pizza at a very high temperature.
Summary: What Is a Pizza Docker?
So, what is a pizza docker? It’s a utensil that pierces a dough with little holes, releasing trapped air and reducing the likelihood of bubbles forming in the crust.
It can be useful for making very flat, uniform pizzas – particularly with chilled or underfermented dough – but it is far from essential. Most pizza chefs prefer their pizza with a bit of texture to it, and a few smaller bubbles in the crust.
If you’re having problems with bubbles then it’s more likely that your fermentation or temperature is the culprit – not a lack of docking.
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