Ask The Experts: Question for Lehmann

How can I avoid Craters in the Bottom Of Sicilian Crusts?

Those craters are an indication of fermentation. The more fermentation a dough is exposed to, the more, and larger the craters are. This is normally considered a desirable trait as it means the crust will have a great flavor as well as improved crispiness. Maybe rather than craters you mean air pockets under the crust? This where air has been trapped under the crust, expanded to some extent, raised the crust off of the pan, resulting in a white depression on the bottom of the crust. The best way that
I know of to eliminate thse is to use oil, rather than shortening in the pan. When you use oil, the dough actually floats on the layer of oil, thus allowing any trapped air to escape. When shortening is used in the pan, the dough is held tight to the pan, allowing for the formation of the air pockets.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Not sure if this is an accepted practice, but “docking” the dough with a dough scrapper a few times was how I was taught to do it.

Let me guess, you’re docking the dough using one corner of the dough scraper. Actually, this is not the correct form of docking for a pizza dough as the corner of the scraper completely penetrates the dough, thus perforating it, rather than docking it. In docking, the tool used must be blunt so it doesn’t penetrate al the way through the dough, in order to be effective, the docking tool must compress the top of the dough sheet down to the bottom of the dough sheet and lock the two together, similar to tack welding two sheets of steel together. If the take a look at a cracker, you will see that the docking holes are not clean all the way through, there is a thin membrane of dough on the bottom of the cracker. That membeane is the compressed dough from the docking pin. This is why a fork is also a poor docking tool, since it penetrates the dough rather than compressing it. If it wasn’t so hard on your fingers, you could use them very successfully, to dock the dough, blunt, so you can’t penetrate all the way through the dough, but alas, they are a bit on the large size, and it seems like a good way to end up collecting on workman’s comp. But even with this, I still see a few operators docking their dough using their fingers, I’ll stay with my plastic dough docker.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Actually the point is to perforate the sicilian dough with the dough scraper so it doesnt raise up from large air pockets. I just used the term docking because I didnt know of the proper way to word it. I really dont think an actual dough docker would help in this situation.

Actually, if the dough has been properly fermented, it shouldn’t need to be docked. I just finished with the better part of a full day making a wide assortment of deep-dish pizzas and we never docked a single one, no bubbles blisters, runs or errors.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor