You know what pizza peels are. Maybe you didn’t know they were called pizza peels. Perhaps you called it a paddle. Or you’ve not paid any attention to them, but you’d know the sound of one clapping against a prep table, or scraping against the floor of the pizza oven in your local pizzeria.
And for the two of you who have no idea what we’re talking about, here’s the definition from Wikipedia: A peel is a shovel-like tool used by bakers to slide loaves of bread, pizzas, pastries, and other baked goods into and out of an oven. Got it? Good.
In the realm of pizza, there are two basic types of peels: wood and metal. Within those basic categories, there are various shapes,, sizes and types.
When we had our mobile wood-fired pizza business, we used five long handled wooden pizza peels and two long-handled metal peels.
We needed the long handles for working in a wood-fired oven with a big oven floor. For home ovens, shorter handles are obviously better. (and less expensive)
The round metal peel is used to turn the pizza while in the oven, and the slits in the banjo peel allow crumbs and ash to fall through, keeping the underside of the crust relatively clean.
Wood and/or metal?
We use both. Traditionally, you stretch the dough and assemble the pizza on a countertop, then slide the peel under it to transfer the pizza to the oven. We like to assemble the pizza on a wooden peel and then transfer it to the oven . We turn the pizza with a metal peel and when it’s time to remove it, use the metal peel again. Of course we could do the whole thing with a metal peel, but the wooden peel just feels right. It also doesn’t slide on the counter during assembly.
One thing to be careful of when assembling the toppings on the peel is spillage. Sauce or cheese on the peel will make the dough stick to the wood making it very difficult to transfer the pizza to the stone or steel in your oven.
TIP: If your dough is sticking to the peel, use unwaxed dental floss to separate the dough from the wood. Wrap a length of floss between your index fingers and slide it under your pizza.
TIP #2: If you have a big cast-iron pan, turn it upside down to replace a stone or steel in a pinch.
Ready to purchase your first peel? Take a look at these:
Note: My favorite wooden peel is this Baker’s Board peel. Designed and crafted by Larry Melberg at Baker’s Board. Full disclosure: Larry sent me one of these about seven years ago. I’ve bought a few since.
One more thing: when you get your wooden peel (or peels), rub them with mineral oil (found in any drugstore). This will season the wood and
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Use the comments field below!