What’s Up, Doc?

I can’t think of docking without flashing back to a job I once had, where I watched an intern (from the Culinary Institute of America, no less) make the very same mistake twice a week, every week, for months.

He’d roll out the dough for the bakery’s cream crackers into a single giant sheet, one that nearly covered the 72” x 30” wooden table he worked on. Then he’d pull out the six-wheel cutter and start slicing the sheet into crackers. I did that job myself at one point, and it was really pretty fun. A cutter like that is a cool toy.

It was only after the crackers were cut that he’d realize he’d forgotten to dock the sheet beforehand. And that was a problem, because one big sheet sticks down to a work table, making it easy to pass a roller docker over it a few times. It takes maybe thirty seconds. The same technique won’t work with hundreds of tiny dough squares, as they tend to stack up on the spines of the docker like so many slices of green pepper on a shish kebab.

The only recourse at that point — short of re-rolling the dough, which the bakery owners wouldn’t stand for because the extra working changed the texture of the dough — was to dock all the individual crackers by hand with dinner forks. Which the poor guy did, twice a week every week for about two hours. I always tried to make a mental note to remind him not to forget, but heck it wasn’t my job to remember, and I had my own list of tasks to perform (those coffee cakes weren’t going to shape themselves!). Truth be told, the hand-docked crackers always baked up better than the roller-docked ones, so should you find yourself in the same situation one day, remember that. Just be sure to turn out the lights when you leave.

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