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The other day I went to PapaJohns and noticed that they had a roller that had spikes on it and they rolled it on their dough to make some impressions in the dough.

Last weekend I decided to take a fork and try it and I made dents all over my dough.

I don't normally make dents, what are the dents supposed to do?

One of my family members theorized that it might let the heat travel up faster and help with the cooking.

I'm under the impression that the dough was softer once cooked, but I don't know if that's psychosomatic or not.

What does making small dent impressions on pizza dough actually do?

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Bread dough experiences "oven spring". That is, the water in the dough turns to steam and gives some fast, extra lift when the dough is first placed in a hot oven.

For most breads oven spring is a very good thing. For thick, flat breads like focaccia and pizza it is not good thing. The spring, or any other rising, will make the dough no longer a flat bread.

Putting the dents in flat breads is simply to help keep them flat when they bake. Unlike in pastry dough, where the docking pierces the dough and lets steam escape, the docking in bread dough shouldn't cut through layers but simply leave indentations.

Pizza doesn't always need to be docked because the weight of the toppings is sufficient to keep it flat. I don't dock my pizza dough.

The indentations are also nice because they increase surface area for toasting and hold on to toppings, such as the olive oil on focaccia, but I don't believe that is their primary purpose.

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I have experience with Domino's, but I've been told the the method's for Papa John's is very similar.

We only used the spiked roller for a specific pizza type (rectangular Artisan) that is no longer made. While it was, on occasion, used on under-proofed dough, it is not something that is needed.

Proper stretching of properly proofed dough prevents large bubbles from forming while in the oven. The spiked roller could be used to "cheat" and would also help prevent the bubbles in dough that had not been properly prepared.

The best pizza is one that is made from dough that has been out of the refrigerator long enough for the yeast to activate and grow, but not too long (a couple hours usually, with a couple more needed for dough fresh off the truck.

When this dough is skillfully stretched into shape, it does not need the spike roller, and using it may actually prevent some of the flavor from fully developing during baking.

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