How to get a pizza off the peel!

Wooden pizza peel

If you have experienced this problem, you are not alone. This is the number one question we get!  Try these steps and see how easy it can be to handle a pizza.  Also check out the blog post Peel/Spatula for full details about this tool of the trade. Here are a few tricks we have learned about handling raw pizza. Whether you call it a pizza peel, pizza spatula, or a pizza paddle, these tips will help.

Equipment:

  1. Aluminum peels grab onto raw dough. (Think white on rice) Try a wooden peel to put raw pizza into the oven.

  2. The wood peel does need a little bit of dry lubrication - an eighth of a teaspoon of semolina flour, or cornmeal, or even flour will work. Start with 1/4 tsp and work your way down.

  3. The peel must be absolutely dry - don't wash the wooden peel before cooking. dust with flour if the peel is even slightly moist.

  4. Clean off any oil, dough, clumps of cheese or moisture.

  5. The pizza stone must be hot >400F for the dough not to stick to the stone.

Dough

  1. Dough should be prepped in advance and be formed into a ball that is folded tight to form surface tension.

  2. The dough ball should sit to dry slightly and form a light "skin".

  3. Dough should be close to room temperature. This will reduce that spring back.

  4. Don't break the surface skin of the dough when forming a pizza

  5. Rolling dough out with a rolling pin can squeeze out moisture. Hand toss, or press and stretch on a smooth floured surface like tile or granite.

Technique

  1. Make sure your peel is smooth, dry, and clean. Sprinkle it with a tiny bit of cornmeal, semolina or flour.

  2. You can dunk a dough ball in a pan of flour before stretching it. Dough should not stick to your hand.

  3. Stretch the dough out on a smooth surface and then arrange it on the wooden peel. (Don't roll or flatten the dough after you place it on the peel.)

  4. Shake the wooden peel to ensure the dough is not sticking - if it is, stop here and get more flour under the dough.

  5. Decorate the dough with ingredients while it is on the peel. Don’t dally. The longer the pizza sits on a peel the more it will begin to stick.

  6. Don’t pile on the ingredients. It is tough I know, but start light and work your way up.

  7. Carry the peel to the oven and place the peel so the pizza is all the way over the hot stone, Shuffle the far edge of the pizza onto the stone and then jiggle/draw the peel out from under the pizza. The action is more like jerking a tablecloth out from under a table-setting than shoveling coal.

  8. Arrange the pizza on the stone as you withdraw the peel. - If it gets oblong or weirdly shaped, leave it and enjoy its craft-pizza uniqueness. If the edge droops off the stone, let it cook for a few minutes before using an aluminum peel to lift the whole pizza and rescue the edge.

  9. Be patient- perfectly circular pizzas come from factories. Practice makes perfect and your friends won't mind.

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Additional Commentary

  1. Parchment paper - great for baking cookies! not really necessary if you follow the steps above. The box says do not use over 500F.

  2. Aluminum grids - that is how Dominoes does it. If it works for you - no judgement here.

  3. Do not put cornmeal on the hot pizza stone. Just don't.

  4. Visit a wood-fired pizza place and do what the pros do.

  5. Start with a light "ingredient load" on your pizza to get the hang of it.

  6. Multiple 12” pizzas are a great deal easier than one jumbo 16" monster.

Enjoy your time making and baking pizza!

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Thanks for reading

Cortlandt