By Aaron Hutcherson
The Washington Post
Making a perfect pie crust is both art and science. It can take some practice to unlock this skill, but assembling the dough is only part of the equation. The rest comes down to properly baking it, and one simple technique that can help ensure a better bake is docking, the culinary term for poking holes in a pie crust. Here's what you need to know.
Docking can be called for in recipes where par- or blind-baking the crust is required. This can be the case for single-crust pies - never double-crust pies, such as your standard apple - in which the filling is cooked only for a short time, such as quiche, or does not go into the oven at all, such as pudding pies.
With docking, the holes allow steam to escape, so the crust should stay flat against the baking dish when it isn't held down by pie weights or a filling. Otherwise the crust can puff up, not only impacting appearance but also leaving you with less space for whatever filling you have planned.
But when par- or blind-baking, not every type of crust needs to be docked. It's not necessary for crumb crusts, such as the graham cracker crust you would make for a coconut-lime cream pie, but should be used for standard rolled pie crusts and press-in cookie crusts.
I should also point out that you don't need to dock your pie crust at all. Pastry expert Stella Parks recommends blind-baking rolled crusts low and slow, weighed down by sugar the entire time instead of removing the weight partway through a shorter cook time as other recipes instruct. While Parks's method eliminates a step - I love streamlined cooking! - it requires double the baking time, which you might want to avoid, particularly during the summer.
If and when it comes time to dock, there are tools you can purchase, but a fork works just fine. After you've formed and crimped the crust into your pie plate or tart pan, simply use the tines of a fork to prick holes all over. (Don't forget the sides!) Then proceed with baking as instructed, leaving you with a pristine, crisp crust for all of your pie and tart needs.