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A pizza peel is an essential tool for any pizzeria. It is a flat shovel-like tool used to transfer pizzas from the working surface to the oven. Many people may not know what a pizza peel is used for.
This blog post will discuss the history of the pizza peel and how it is used in today’s pizzerias. We will also provide tips on how to use a pizza peel effectively.
- 1 What is a pizza peel?
- 2 Do You Need A Pizza Peel?
- 3 The benefits of using a pizza peel
- 4 Why Every Pizza Enthusiast Needs a Pizza Peel?
- 5 What Size Does Your Pizza Peel Need to Be?
- 6 How to Use a Pizza Peel?
- 7 What to Do If Your Pizza Gets Stuck on the Pizza Peel?
- 8 When To Use a Pizza Peel?
- 9 How Do Pizza Peels and Pizza Stones Work Together?
- 10 Types of Pizza Peels
- 11 Various Accessories for Pizza Peels
- 12 Tips for Using Your Pizza Peel
- 13 Pizza Stones
- 14 Round Vs. Square Peels
- 15 How to care for your pizza peel?
- 16 Choosing The Right Pizza Peel
- 17 FAQs about what is a pizza peel?
- 17.1 Why is it called a pizza peel?
- 17.2 What’s the difference between a square and a round peel?
- 17.3 Do I need a pizza peel?
- 17.4 Should you oil a pizza peel?
- 17.5 Is wood or metal pizza peel better?
- 17.6 Is a pizza peel necessary?
- 17.7 What should a pizza peel be made of?
- 17.8 How do I sharpen my pizza peel?
- 18 Final thoughts on what is a pizza peel?
What is a pizza peel?
A pizza peel is a flat shovel-like tool used to transfer pizzas from the working surface to the oven. The peel is made of wood or aluminum and features a handle at one end and a flat blade at the other.
A peel’s thickness will vary depending on the size of the edge. A pie-shaped pizza will require a thinner peel than an extra-large rectangular-shaped pizza.
Types of Pizza Peels There are three different sizes of pizza peels: 10 inches, 14 inches, and 18+ inches in length. These sizes can be measured in either diameter or length. As a general rule, there should be around 2 inches between the edge of your work surface and your oven’s brick when using any sized peel for your pie.
Peels can be made from either wood or aluminum, with most pizzerias preferring the wooden variety. Aluminum peels are lighter and easier to handle than their wooden counterparts.
Wooden peels absorb heat and conduct heat better than aluminum, making them preferred in most pizzerias. It would help if you did not use your pizza peel for anything other than dough-related items such as:
- Transferring pizzas from the work surface to the oven.
- Removing them from the oven.
- Serving cut slices of pizza onto plates (never slide a knife under a slice of pizza when using a flat paddle-style peel).
Do You Need A Pizza Peel?
When using pizza crust for the first time, some people often wonder what is a pizza peel and is it essential. You can not make or serve a round pizza without a pizza peel. You can use something else, but the results will not be good.
It is impossible to place raw dough onto a baking stone using anything other than wood or aluminum because these materials are porous, allowing them to absorb moisture from your dough.
Using your hands, fingers, or some other object to transfer dough could result in lacerations on your body if you miss.
Your best option for placing raw dough on the baking surface would be to buy one of the countertop devices that look like upside-down spatulas with an open-ended slot at one end; however, there are no substitutes for the real thing when it comes to working with pizzas and bread!
The benefits of using a pizza peel
Before learning what is a pizza peel, you need to know the pizza crust’s advantages in the pizza-making process. This will help you understand how essential this tool is.
It boils down to how it will allow for having your dough slide effortlessly within the oven, which in turn grants you a large amount of flexibility when handling your pies.
While both options do work well enough when used under specific circumstances, their size might not always be ideal, so if you are looking for something much more compact, this may not always be the best choice.
But while these are much easier to clean than stones, note that they can get worn out rather quickly and require occasional replacement.
Lastly, try giving them a quick wash after each use before leaving them to air dry at room temperature, or else any excess flour could harden again and make removal even more difficult.
Why Every Pizza Enthusiast Needs a Pizza Peel?
When making pizza for the first time, some people often wonder what is a pizza peel and does it matter. It would help if you had a peel because it allows you to work the pizza properly. You can keep your hands on top of the dough rather than grasping at it with your fingers – which are far less accurate.
Pizza peels can handle huge pizzas with relative ease, so if you have ever attempted to slide a pizza into a scorching oven without one, then you know that pizza is prone to sticking when placed onto a stone or baking surface using alternative devices.
The result, in either case, will be poor dough handling and ultimately poorly baked bread and pizzas.
What Size Does Your Pizza Peel Need to Be?
The size of your peel will depend on the style of pizza you are baking and the oven in which you are cooking. The larger the peel, the more difficult it is to handle, so it’s best to use one that can fit on top of your stovetop. Also, keep in mind that the smaller your peel is, the less likely you will burn yourself.
This is because you will be able to get your hands closer to the oven and grip it with your fingers (if need be) when transferring dough.
A 14-inch peel can handle any sized pizza. This means if you have a 16-inch round stovetop pizza oven, then do not buy an 18 or 20-inch peel because it will likely prove impossible for you to use without making a giant mess of things.
How to Use a Pizza Peel?
To use pizza crust easily, you need to learn what is a pizza peel? There are three keys to using your pizza peel effectively: practice, hydration, and dough thickness.
1. Practice Practicing is the only way you will master this technique. It will take time before confidently transferring the dough into the oven with one easy motion. Practice in front of an empty baking surface until perfect this maneuver.
2. Hydrate If your dough is not adequately hydrated (50% water/50% flour by weight), it will stick to the pizza peel when being transferred into the oven. A wet dough ball can also stick to your paddle if there is flour on its surface due to excess dusting during storage or because of the way it was handled.
To remedy this problem, you need to dust your peel with flour or semolina before placing your dough on its surface. Make sure you spread out any excess flour after plating your dough because clumps of flour will burn over time, making an unpleasant burnt flavor.
The hydration of your dough can be adjusted by using more or less water when making your dough at home; however, adjustments should only be made in small increments to prevent ruining the texture and taste of your crust.
3. Dough Thickness If you are having trouble transferring pizzas from the work surface to the oven, this is often caused by a dough that is too thin for its environment.
You may want to make more giant pizzas because they will be easier to handle; however, the dough will spread out too thin when placed on your pizza peel, making it more difficult for you to transfer into your oven.
If you have trouble transferring more giant pizzas, try using a thicker dough that can better support its weight. You need to give yourself some space between the edge of your work surface and the oven’s brick, so do not roll out your dough until it is an inch or two thick.
If you are comfortable with rolling out thicker dough than this, go ahead but keep in mind that the additional bulk of a more comprehensive piece of raw dough requires extra cooking time once inside the oven resulting in less crispy crusts.
What to Do If Your Pizza Gets Stuck on the Pizza Peel?
This can happen, and it is no big deal if you know how to respond appropriately. While transferring the raw dough from your work surface to your peel, a small piece may stick to the surface of your cutting board.
Placing a bit of flour on this small section should release its grip so that you can easily slide it off the board with a quick flick of your wrist before placing it onto the pizza peel.
However, if you have developed a habit of aggressively pushing down as soon as placing your dough ball on top of the peel, which causes it to stick, this will likely result in torn pieces shifting throughout the peel. The best solution here is purchasing plastic or wooden peel that has been treated using an FDA food-safe coating such as Teflon.
Do not use a metal dough scraper to remove pieces of torn dough because scraping with a hard object can cause surface damage. It is often best to push the work back into the center of the dough ball and relaunch it without worrying about transferring these loose bits into your oven.
Feel free to share any excess scraps before cooking if you become skilled at launching raw dough while keeping it intact.
When To Use a Pizza Peel?
There are several reasons why you may need to use a pizza peel over other tools such as tongs or spatulas:
- You want extra-crisp crust by exposing its bottom surface directly on the oven’s brick floor for quick cooking times from anywhere from 60-90 seconds.
- You want to use your pizza peel as a spatula by rotating the pie 180° during cooking for evenly cooked crusts.
- Your oven is too small and does not allow room for using tongs or other tools, so you need a tool that can easily fit inside the oven chamber with the door closed. This will prevent steam from building up too much while cooking, resulting in soggy crusts instead of crispy ones.
- You do not have a large enough work surface for flipping more giant pizzas or transferring them into an oven. In this case, it becomes necessary to build extra height onto your cutting board so that you can support more giant dough balls without having them spill over onto their side at any point during the rolling process.
The best tool for your job is dependent on your oven type. If you have a commercial or coal-fired style oven, then you are limited to using only tools that do not cause excess wear and tear.
It will take time before you can determine what works best for you but keep in mind that how often you use any tool throughout the pizza-making process will significantly influence its durability.
How Do Pizza Peels and Pizza Stones Work Together?
A thin ceramic or metal pizza peel should always be used to transfer dough or par-baked pizzas onto the top of a hot oven stone. Once your pie is on the oven’s floor, you can use your peel to reposition it if necessary before pulling out the tray for an easy release.
Always keep in mind that removing your fresh pie from its baking surface will typically require at least two hands to do safely, which means that placing anything beneath them may cause injury when forcefully removing it.
Make sure to support either end of your baking tray while working around its edges with a pizza peel and stand away from any potential splatters by keeping your arms close to the side.
Do Not Place Dough Balls on a Cold Stone! Because of its uneven heating patterns, you should never place dough balls onto a cold oven stone.
The resulting thermal shock can cause premature cracking, which is why it is always recommended to preheat the stone for around 30-60 minutes before placing anything on top of it, including dough or oil.
Do Not Roll Your Dough Out On A Stone! Although this might seem like an obvious statement, it becomes necessary to mention this because some people may assume that any hard surface will work just fine for rolling out their dough.
If you are not using dough with high gluten content (e.g., rye, semolina), the best option is to use either marble slabs or large wooden planks. Although they both tend to become slippery, they also have enough friction to give any rolling pin extra push needed to flatten the dough.
Types of Pizza Peels
Although the most affordable option on this list, these are not recommended for anyone serious about making pizza regularly because they tend to warp after only a few uses. If they do not bend, they may develop cracks that can make them hazardous if they become loose or splinter during use.
A relatively recent invention was an alternative to traditional wood peels. These come in either plastic or metal variations and have been treated with Teflon-like materials that will allow you to slide your dough right off its surface without leaving any holes behind.
Unfortunately, unless they have been treated with high-heat resistant paint on their handles, it will be necessary to keep them away from direct heat so that they do not melt or catch fire.
These are the best option for anyone who has access to a metal shop because they can be customized for whatever your needs may be. It is possible to find commercial-grade peels made from either stainless steel or aluminum that have been built with strengthened handles.
Still, if you cannot find any, it might be worth your time to ask around at local restaurants since you never know what they might have available for their staff.
A side note about using metal-handled peels: Although you should always watch them when in use, it is safe to say that if they present too much friction, instead of rolling your dough out, place it upon the surface and spread your dough from there.
Various Accessories for Pizza Peels
Handle Grips & Covers If you have a peel with a wooden handle, then it is a good idea to use a high-temperature silicone sleeve or wrap on the entire length of its shaft when moving between ovens because they will not only prevent burns but also make it more accessible during opening and closing procedures.
Thick oven mitts can be used in this situation, but keep in mind that if the inner part has been treated with paint, then any oils or stains will melt onto their surface.
Pizza Cutter Built into One End Although this might seem like an odd place to end up using these types of utensils, it is worth mentioning that if you have a peel handle that has been drilled out to allow for the insertion of a thin metal rod.
Then it might be worth your time to add on a cutter-equipped hold because this will result in having two utensils being able to function from just one.
Tips for Using Your Pizza Peel
If you have been using a metal-handled peel, then there is a bit of a learning curve involved with its use because unless you keep your wrist stiff and straight, it will most likely result in the dough sticking to its surface.
It is also worth mentioning that if they develop rust spots near the hinge area, which will most likely occur from water condensation, then scrub them off with a neutral cleaner or fine sandpaper.
The correct way to roll out dough onto a pizza peel:
Place your open palm over the center of your dough’s circumference and gently push down towards its edge while simultaneously starting to roll it back and forth upon itself. Continue this pattern until your dough reaches approximately 1/4-inch thick and quickly slide the peel underneath it.
Once there, promptly rotate its handle about 180 degrees to allow for even spreading and then carefully guide it over the surface of your pizza stone with the aid of another utensil or your hands.
The proper way to open a door with a pizza peel: This one might sound like common sense, but if you have ever seen anyone attempt this procedure using two hands, then most likely, they ended up slamming their oven shut with dough stuck onto its surface.
To avoid this situation, place one hand on top of its shaft so that it forms an “L” shape and use your other arm to push down on the raised portion while swinging open the door.
The proper way to extract a pizza using a peel:
Once you have finished baking your dough, place one hand near its edge and gently slide the frontmost portion onto the back of the peel. Then quickly shift your wrist so that it forms an “L” shape and raise its handle until there is no lip remaining on top.
Launch it towards the opposite end of your oven by swinging in an arc-like path while simultaneously sliding forward with both hands or if you are more daring, launch it outwards. But regardless of which method you decide to use when removing them from their stone, make sure to always keep an eye on where it is headed.
If done correctly, this process will allow minimal damage to be placed upon the crust, and a maximum amount of space be left for slicing.
Also, if you have ever wondered why most pizzerias within New York City opt to use a wooden board instead of a metal one, then it is worth mentioning that low moisture levels will increase its lifespan from around three months to up to five years.
Lastly, always make sure that your peel is clean before dragging it through your oven, as this will minimize any sticking occurring from anything within its path needing additional lubrication.
A cold slab of metal is no way to go about baking a pizza, so the next time you decide to use one, try placing it within your oven while firing it up and then, after several minutes, remove it using a pair of heavily mittened gloves.
Then place your dough upon its surface, shut the door and let the magic begin. Repeat this procedure once more towards cooking if possible because this will increase its overall effectiveness.
Pizza Stones: The bottom has been preheated and added a layer.
How do they work?
Stones work by heating up from their base and transferring those thermal properties upwards into their upper sections. Since heat moves in all directions, the molecules within the dough become agitated and release a large amount of gas; as a result, ultimately creating the crispy crust we all crave.
The speed at which this occurs can be increased by soaking them in water beforehand or by using preheated stones that use thermal conduction to their advantage.
For it to work correctly, its bottom should constantly have been exposed to a temperature of around 450 degrees F before being placed into your oven’s upper regions.
This will maximize the rate at which its middle section absorbs heat from your cooking chamber, but if it cannot reach these levels, fire up your stovetop instead and move it over once its lower half has fully reached temperature.
Otherwise, you can also place an aluminum pan underneath its surface and fill it with either lava rocks or ceramic briquettes.
Then you can let the oven’s self-cleaning cycle remove any residue left behind while simultaneously adding additional heat to your cooking chamber. However, some stoves may need a little bit of research on operating such an option properly.
Pizza Peel vs. Pizza Stone: While the stone will reach temperature faster, you should still try placing your dough onto it once the door has opened for proper baking.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning that stones can become quite hot to the touch, so unless you are wearing mittens, it may be best to use a pair of oven mitts before picking one up.
As far as picking your pizza up without causing any damage, this should probably not be an issue since they have been specially designed for just such a reason.
But while using them with other types of doughs might prove difficult, their maneuverability will allow for having minimal flaws in its shape before transferring it successfully into your oven.
Also, if you happen to have excess flour on top, which causes frustration when trying to clean it off, try brushing some water over its surface instead and let the liquid absorb whatever else might be leftover.
As for keeping the surface of your stone clean, brush on some water before dragging your dough across its face, and then once you are done, let it sit underneath your stove’s exhaust fan or air vents before getting rid of any residue. This will prevent any flour from becoming carbonized, which can easily happen if heated up too quickly.
Lastly, while they do not need to be soaked in water beforehand, never submerge them in the water while cleaning off excess crusted on bits. Once you have removed most of these with a standard brush, set it within your sink while running tap water over its surfaces until all have been washed away.
Then pat dry with a paper towel before placing them somewhere safe until their subsequent use.
Round Vs. Square Peels
Square peels are much larger than round ones, making them difficult to keep in an oven’s corner where you might need them the most. But while their maximum surface area does not accurately reflect how much dough can be placed onto its uppermost layer, they are still quite versatile. They can allow for tossing pizza within a similar motion.
Its finicky nature, though, makes it incredibly difficult to maneuver when compared to something like the round peel, which will glide across your countertop with ease if you pay attention to what you’re doing.
So remember that floured areas do not act as frictionless surfaces, so never let these get away from your grip, or else accidents might happen.
A round peel is also more versatile when it comes to serving customers on the go, so if you ever have a line of hungry patrons waiting outside, then place your dough onto one of these and toss it before their very eyes.
But while they are more compact, using them with anything other than pizza is probably not recommended, especially since it is much larger than its square counterparts.
How to care for your pizza peel?
A pizza peel should be treated with the same respect you would like every other tool in your kitchen. Never use it with dough that is still sticky or wet since these are more likely to get stuck when being moved around.
A quick dusting will do if anything is left behind, but try not to drag it along surfaces that have been recently cleaned. After each wash, dry them off before storing them away in their designated container until subsequent use.
Choosing The Right Pizza Peel
Wood Vs. Metal
Both are durable but try not to let metal contact your oven’s heating elements since these will easily crack under duress. On the other hand, wood might sometimes warp if exposed to heat for too long, so always check to see what it’s made out of before buying one.
Perforated Vs. Standard
A perforated pizza peel is excellent for those who want to make a crispy crust, but only if you have an oven that will preheat to 500 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Unless your range can reach such high temperatures, it is best to stick with the more standard version as they allow airflow through its surface, which helps with browning and crisping.
Length And Width To Size Up
The wider the pizza peel, the less likely it will fit into smaller and cramped areas where space is at a premium. If you find yourself constantly changing up between different styles of dough, then try looking for something made out of aluminum so it will be lightweight enough to carry around.
Though slightly heavier than metal counterparts, wooden ones are also typically thicker and more comfortable to work with.
Now that you know all there is to know about these kitchen essentials go out there and buy yourself one today! But make sure it matches the dough you plan on using before throwing anything into your oven. I recommend pizza peels made of aluminum for beginners because they are inexpensive yet durable.
The longer the handle, the more leverage you will get when working with giant pizzas. Longer handles also prevent potential wrist injuries if you ever have to catch a toppings-heavy pizza before it plummets into your oven’s fiery depths.
FAQs about what is a pizza peel?
Why is it called a pizza peel?
Pizza peels are also called pie-pans and baking/pizza stones, depending on where you’re from or who made it. It all started with the Romans when they used flat pieces of wood to slide loaves into their makeshift furnaces. Centuries later, they eventually evolved into what we know today as a pizza peel or even a wooden pizza paddle.
What’s the difference between a square and a round peel?
Square peels are usually preferred by those who make pizzas that are also squared in shape. Still, round ones enable them to be more versatile since these can be used for other kinds of pastries as well – make sure your oven accommodates one buying anything!
Do I need a pizza peel?
For those who love making pizza at home, a peel is a great tool to have to hang around the kitchen. Not only does it help with transferring dough from your workstation onto an oven’s floor, but it also frees up more space on your table so you can focus on cooking other dishes without having to worry about where you’re going to put everything.
Should you oil a pizza peel?
While it’s unnecessary, you can give your peel a quick coat of olive oil to keep the dough from sticking onto its surface. This is usually only needed if the dough is wet and won’t form bubbles when you raise it above your head.
Is wood or metal pizza peel better?
They both have their respective pros and cons, so you should pick the one that fits your skill level and cooking style. Metal ones are typically more durable than their wooden counterparts, but they also tend to be heavier, so only go with these if you plan on using them every day for years.
Is a pizza peel necessary?
It is not, but it will come in handy when you’re making thick crust pizzas and other heavy breeds. With a regular pizza pan, cooking anything with a wide bottom will likely produce burnt results, so get yourself one of these if your oven can’t take the heat.
What should a pizza peel be made of?
Depending on your preference, a pizza peel should be made out of metal or wood. If you plan on using it often, it is best to go with a material that’s not too light so you will have a better sense of its weight when working with dough. While durable and easy on the wallet, aluminum can get too hot at times so the wood will work just as fine.
How do I sharpen my pizza peel?
You can’t sharpen a pizza peel because they’re not knives! Just wash it thoroughly after every use and oil the surface if needed to prevent any dough from sticking onto its surface. Even without much care, a wooden one should last for years (if well-maintained), but aluminum ones need more TLC to retain their looks and shape.
Final thoughts on what is a pizza peel?
Whether you are new to making homemade pizzas or want a tool that can help replace some of your old baking equipment, having a pizza peel at home is a great starting point for any cook, no matter how experienced they are.
If you have any questions regarding whether or not you should get one, feel free to ask me in the comments section below, and I’ll do my best to answer them all. And don’t forget to like us on Facebook!