Just like many areas of baking and cooking, the tools we use in pizza making can sometimes have odd names. A great example of this is a pizza peel, which doesn’t make you immediately think of a paddle shaped tool on a long handle, does it?
In this guide, we will look at what is a pizza peel and how do they help a pizza cook make a great pizza.
So, what is a pizza peel?
You may have asked yourself what is a pizza peel and do they really help cook a pizza? Sometimes called a pizza shovel or pizza paddle, a pizza peel is a tool to put a pizza in and out of an oven, typically the larger wood fired ovens. They tend to be made of aluminium, with a wooden handle, not unlike the thickness and length of a short broom handle.
In recent years, there are a variety of styles to choose from. There’s the typical flat square types with rounded edges, the round ones, the perforated ones and the newer ones that actually allow rotation.
The thin surface helps you to easily pick up and transport a hot pizza in or out of the oven.
Benefits of using a pizza peel
While there are many different types of pizza peels on the market, they all have similar features like size, shape.
Among the benefits of using a pizza peel is that it allows you to cook pizza easily, without worrying about pizza cheese or toppings falling off, or burning yourself.
There are plenty of benefits to using a pizza peel. For one thing, it is a great solution for making homemade pizzas in small spaces. Pizzas can be placed directly from the peel into the oven, without needing to put your hands inside the hot area, and worrying about burning your hands.
A pizza peel is also extremely versatile; you can use it for preparing a pizza on it, moving pizza around the kitchen and even serving in onto a wooden board at the dinner table.
How to Use a Pizza Peel
No matter which pizza peel you choose, the method in which you use it is pretty much the same.
You simply preheat your pizza stone (if you have one), kitchen oven or wood fired oven, place either the dough and prepare the pizza on the peel, or place the prepared pizza onto the peel, and then transport it into the oven.
By using a pizza peel, you are keeping your hands safely away from heat of up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit in a wood fired oven.
Next, carefully slide the hot pizza back onto the peel, remove the cooked pizza and slide it back onto your original surface and you’re all set!
Here is a great video that explains it well.
Mastering a pizza peel is an essential skill for any pizza maker. Wood peels and metal peels each have their advantages but behave differently when in use.
Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your metal pizza peel. Before we begin, I need to mention that I’ve got a pizza steel in the oven preheat it’s preheating on the ovens hottest temperature about 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s been in there about a half an hour so I know it’s ready to go.
First, I’m going to prep my pizza dough on a separate work surface. You can use your counter or table top but today I’m using a silicone mat. I’m going to start by placing some flour on the silicone mat, remove a dough ball and we’ll cover it with more flour.
Now that the dough is floured, we’re going to begin gently pressing it to start flattening the piece flip to the other side repeat the process to stretch the dough and pick it up put it on our hands and slowly toss and pull outwards.
Once the dough is shaped and ready, it’s time to put it on the peel.
Before the dough goes on the peel, we’re going to coat the peel with flour. With a metal peel, I like to use at least a tablespoon maybe a tablespoon and a half if you’d like to use cornmeal that’s okay too. Personally, I prefer a 50/50 blend of all-purpose flour and cornmeal.
If you’re using cornmeal alone, try to use a minimal amount because it may smoke in your oven once your dough hits the peel.
You have to work quickly at this point. You only have a few minutes before the dough starts to absorb the flour and sticks to the peel, so make sure you have all your toppings ready to go. As you top your pizza, you want to periodically shake the peel to keep the pizza moving. This will ensure the easiest transfer into the oven.
To transfer your pizza into the oven, we’re going to use a quick back and forth motion like this.
Be careful not to leave the peel in the oven too long or the heat will transfer through and begin to bake the pizza.
You’ll also want to move quickly so that you don’t lose too much heat when opening the door. The metal peel is great at removing or turning pizzas.
It’s thin metal edge allows you to easily slide underneath the pizza. Our pizza is done and it looks great. When the pizza is all gone, our metal peel is super easy to clean.
Run the peel under warm water and scrub with soap scraping off any baked on bits and that’s it!
Choosing the right pizza peel
There are many different types of pizza peels on the market, but the most common type is a rounded corner square aluminium surface with a long wooden handle.
Some of the newer pizza peels have ridges and indentations on them to help you get a better grip, perforated metal area for airflow, and even rotating metal area, to spin the pizza.
There are two main things to be aware of when choosing the pizza peel.
First, is the width of your oven door. This isn’t a big issue if we are talking about your kitchen oven, however if you have a wood fired oven outdoors, the opening will be smaller than a normal kitchen oven.
The second is the length of the handle. The length means you can stay further away from the heat source – especially important with very hot outdoor pizza ovens – however the length may be an issue in confined areas, such as a small kitchen.
Otherwise, I recommend reading some reviews, and choosing one that you like the look of.
Here are some frequently asked questions (and my answers) that I have been asked over the last few years.
How can I learn using a pizza peel?
Now that you know what is a pizza peel, you should watch the pizza peel video above, other pizza peel videos on YouTube and best of all, buy your own pizza peel and just practice. Before you know it, you will be a pizza expert!
How to get pizza not to stick to peel?
The best way to make sure the pizza dough doesn’t stick to the pizza peel, is by ensuring you put flour or cornmeal on the peel and any dough preparation areas. This will help the dough or pizza slide on the peel and off the pizza peel.
How do I clean my pizza peel?
How to oil a pizza peel?
You shouldn’t even need to oil your pizza peel, and even the wooden handle typically will last 10+ years with no oiling or extra maintenance. I have had my current pizza peel for around 14 years and beside some slight burn marks, it pretty much looks like new.