I have a recipe for vol-au-vent pastry that says to dock the shell before blind baking it. I know what blind baking is, but what is 'docking'?
To dock something means to poke it with holes. This is done with flat breads, crackers and pastries when you don't want them to expand too much during baking. It works by creating escape routes that the expanding steam or gases in the baking dough can get out through without inflating the product. That's why soda crackers, matzah and the like have those perforations over their surface.
In the home kitchen, docking is frequently done by poking the surface all over with a fork, every ½ inch (1¼ cm) or so. Plastic or metal docking rollers are available that do the same job much faster. For pastries of any sort that are blind baked, i.e. without the filling, docking or baking weights or a combination of both, reduce the chances of getting large unsightly blisters.
Small, canape-sized vol-au-vent may not be docked since the center is usually lifted out, but for larger ones, the area inside the top ring of dough should be.
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