So, you’ve got your pizza oven built, cured and ready to cook. You’ve loaded your favourie pizza toppings onto your fresh pizza dough and now it is time to put the pizza into the oven. But wait! How are you going to do this without burning yourself?
A pizza oven is an amazing invention but one thing is for sure; they get very hot. One surefire way to prevent any nasty accidents and safe pizza cooking is to use a pizza peel. These cooking accessories were designed to be used with pizza ovens and can come in extremely handy when making pizza at home. That being said, you will often see pizza peels being used in a professional capacity.
Pizza peels are one of the things that a lot of people don’t think to buy for their homemade pizza but in this article, we are going to be explaining what pizza peels are used for and why you should never use your pizza oven without one.
What Is A Pizza Peel Used For?
A pizza peel is a device used to put pizza into the oven without burning yourself. They are also used to turn the pizza during cooking to make sure that everything cooks evenly.
Pizza peels are typically made from either wood or metal and each of these have their pros and cons, which we will look at in a little more detail later on. The metal peels come made from either aluminum or steel but there are iron ones available, although these are less common.
Whether they are made from steel, aluminum, wood or any other material, pizza peels generally have a long handle so that you can place your pizza in the oven without having to get too close to the heat.
One of the great things about pizza peels is that you can choose the size and shape. While a typical pizza peel will be around 15 inches in diameter, there are those that are larger and some with a smaller size. Furthermore, you can get both round and square pizza peels and depending on how you will be using them, each shape has its own purpose.
A square pizza peel is normally used for serving pizza and are often left in the oven during the baking process. They are usually seen to be more easy for the beginner pizza cook and allow you to remove the pizza and turn it.
A lot of people will use a square peel to construct their pizza before cooking it and this eliminates any problems with having to transport the food from one surface to another.
Conversely, a round pizza peel is typically used by a more experienced cook, you will normally see these being used in pizza restaurants. One of the biggest advantages is that while using this type of peel may not be as easy, once you have it down to a T, they are more versatile.
A round peel can be used to turn pizzas in the oven without taking them off the pizza stone. The pizza stone is extremely hot and will cook the pizza from the base upwards. When you place pizzas on a stone, you will typically get a much nicer crust and more crispy base. However, removing the pizzas from the stone during baking will halt the cooking process when what you really want is consistent heat. A round pizza peel helps massively with this.
Finally, we should talk about the perforated pizza peel. Once again, you can choose which size or shape you have but these ones are normally made from metal. The great thing about this sort of peel is that they will let any excess flour fall through the holes so that this doesn’t interfere with the cooking of the food.
They are often much easier to use and you will typically find that the pizza will slide straight off into the oven, ready to cook. This is because this type of peel reduces how much the pizza will stick and is often favoured by those working in a professional setting.
Is A Wooden Or Metal Pizza Peel Better?
We have mentioned that you can get pizza peels made from either wood or metal and in order to know which is best for you, it is important to understand the pros and cons of each type.
One of the best things about wooden peels is that they tend to look a lot nicer. If you are at all concerned about the aesthetics of your outdoor pizza kitchen then you might want to use a wooden peel. However, you should also keep in mind that your pizza is much more likely to stick to a wooden peel. However, this problem can be eliminated by using some sort of flour, such as rice flour to coat the surface before laying your pizza down. You can also use parchment paper to do this. Although this isn’t essential.
That being said, a wooden pizza peel is excellent for soaking up grease so when you use a pizza peel like this, the base of your pizza won’t be at all oily. Conversely, a metal pizza peel does not have the ability to soak up oil so it is vital that you use some sort of parchment paper or flour to prevent the raw dough from sticking. If you do not use parchment paper or flour, you may find that the pizza dough will not slide right off the peel into the oven and this can make using a pizza peel far less easy than it should be.
Another thing to consider is that wooden peels tend to be much heaver than a metal peel. This means that if you have to use one for long periods of time, you may find that you get worn out pretty quickly. A metal pizza peel is typically made from either steel or aluminium and these are both very lightweight, making it a lot less bulky and easier to handle.
But the best way to determine whether wooden peels or metal peels will suit your needs it to look at how easy they are to use. A wooden pizza peel is normally much thicker and this can make them a little tricky when used with certain types of pizza. You may also find that they do not reach the back of the oven as easily since they do not have a long stick-like handle like a metal peel.
Metal peels also tend to come in a variety of sizes; you can get short handled metal peels and those that have very long handles that are almost like a stick. These are great for reaching right to the back of the pizza oven. Furthermore, the steel and aluminum used to make these peels is always much thinner so they are easier to slide the pizza off the pizza stone or other baking surface.
That being said, a metal pizza peel is typically a lot less durable than wooden peels and you often find that the handle will weaken over time. The slippery aluminum or steel is also difficult to grip when compared to the excellent grip you get on a wood peel.
It is also important to look at whether or not the peel is easy to clean. As a general rule, metal is always going to be easier to clean than wood. But provided that you dust the peel with flour, cornmeal or something else to stop the dough from sticking, the clean-up shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
There are hybrid pizza peels which normally come with a metal surface and a wooden handle. These give you the benefit of a strong wooden grip as well as having the metal that allows the food to slide off much more easily.
In truth, there is not one type of pizza peel that is better than the other but you should consider which will be best for your needs. Weighing up the pros and cons is undoubtedly the best way to do this. You will need to think about the type of pizzas you will be making, the size of your pizza oven, your own strength and ability as well as whether you want something that won’t stick to the dough.
Is A Pizza Peel Necessary?
When it comes to making pizza at home, there are a lot of things you will need. Pizza ovens are becoming more popular and this leads many a home pizza cook to raise the question of whether they need everything that they are told they do.
In just the same way that a pizza stone isn’t necessary to make pizza at home, it does give you a much more authentic pizza. Your pizza peel is also not something that you need but it is certainly an item that will help in making authentic pizza.
Many people like to use these tools as they recreate the feel of a traditional pizza kitchen but you may also find that your peel, along with a pizza stone and authentic pizza oven will give you an overall better flavor and texture.
Furthermore, if you want to experience safer baking then using a pizza peel to put the pizza in the oven, turn it and take it back out will help you to achieve this.
You will likely find that baking pizza is far easier with a peel since you can make the pizza on the peel and put it onto the pizza stone without your toppings falling off the dough.
In short, while you might not need one, if you use a pizza peel, you’ll like have a much better time making pizza.
What Is A Pizza Peel Substitute?
If you don’t have a pizza peel, you might be wondering what you could use to peel pizza in its place. Furthermore, you should always make sure that you have an emergency utensil on hand should your favourite pizza peel break or malfunction in some way.
There are some great ideas for alternative pizza peels; take a look at the following;
- Double a cutting board up as a pizza peel
- Simply use a piece of parchment paper to transfer the pizza into the oven and onto the pizza stone. What’s great about this is that you can leave the paper on the pizza stone but do remember that this won’t give you as crisp a base as the pizza stone won’t be able to transfer heat directly to the pizza.
- You could wrap a stiff sheet of cardboard in tin foil and use this to peel pizza into the oven. However, it is imperative than once the pizza is in the pizza oven and on the pizza stone, you remove the makeshift peel from the oven. These ovens get incredibly hot and regardless of how stiff it is, cardboard should never be allowed to get this hot.
- A baking sheet or cookie tray without a rim would work well as a pizza peel.
How To Stop Dough From Sticking To The Surface Of The Peel
A big gripe for people who make pizza in their pizza ovens is that they find the dough keeps sticking to the surface of the peel; this can be incredibly frustrating. However, you can prevent this by using something on the surface.
Pizza peels come in either a metal or wood design and you can have problems with pizzas sticking on both. You will want to use a natural ingredient that won’t affect the taste of your pizza but that will also be easy to clean.
For these reasons, a lot of people opt for cornmeal. Cornmeal is much more dense than flour and when you place it on the surface of the peel it will almost allow the dough to roll off onto the pizza stone.
However, it is also important to make sure that your dough is just right and not too wet, as sticky dough can pose more of a problem with sticking to the surface of the peel.
Many people love to make pizzas at home; there is something incredibly satisfying about making fresh dough and watching it sizzle and crisp in the oven, covered in your favourite toppings.
However, there is the issue of getting the pizza into your oven and onto the stone without burning yourself. After you make the pizza, you can use a pizza peel to place the food into the oven. Using this handy accessory will give you a more authentic experience and will often improve the taste and texture of the pizza after you cook it.
There are different types of peel, this includes the size, shape and material from which they are made and which you end up using will depend on several factors.
While a pizza peel or turning peel isn’t necessary, it can be extremely useful and will serve you well as you place your food into such a hot oven and when you need to take it back out.