Pizza Peel Preference Please

paprikashMarch 26, 2012

I'm tired of driving 30 minutes for mediocre pizza so I will be soon making home-made. I bought Emil Henry's pizza stone and have googled pizza peels for an hour. It seems that many like a wood peel with cornmeal to transport from peel to oven and an aluminum peel to transport from oven to serving. Also, there is an Epicurean peel and a SuperPeel just to confuse me even more. What do you pizza makers prefer? I really hate to buy two peels. Also, do you cook on parchment? And, lastly, when using cornmeal on the peel how do you not make a mess when you are transferring the pizza to the oven -- doesn't the cornmeal go all over your floor and the floor of your oven?

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I have a metal peel with a short wood handle that I like very much. Anything longer and I think it would be difficult to handle. It is 14"X16". That makes a good sized pizza for our family of 4. I bought it from KA catalog. I have had both and while both wood and metal do the job of transferring, I find the metal one more durable and longer lasting. It is also much easier to clean. And even though I try only to put the cornmeal a few inches in from the edge, it still spills on the floor of the oven. That is just a given so I don't worry about it. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 10:49AM
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I just use a large wooden cutting board with parchment on it. Slide the parchment with the dough on it right onto the hot stone. After a few minutes of baking, I open up the oven and yank the parchment out while I hold the pizza "still" with tongs, it usually just slides right out from under the pizza, and let the pizza finish on the stone. When the pizza is done, I pull it out with those tongs right onto a cooling rack and put it on the counter. I've used this method for years; prior, I constantly made a mess with the cornmeal, then it would burn, and I was always "wrinkling" the dough when trying to transfer it. :)
I will include a warning--don't stick your face close to the pizza in the oven as soon as you open the door--give it a few seconds as the steam from the baking pizza is HOT.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 11:44AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

After several incredible cornmeal messes, I now cook on parchment. I still preheat the stone for an hour, 550, and use a wooden peel to transfer and remove the finished pizza.

After shaping the dough on parchment, I closely trim the edges of the paper so it doesn't burn.
I know this prevents the stone from making direct contact, but the pizzas turn out really good.

The most important factor is the type of dough.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 12:09PM
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I use an inexpensive wooden peel, and plenty of flour. Like NancyLouise, I get flour on the floor/oven, but it's part of the process. The trick is to be quick with adding the toppings, and to give the peel a shake or three while adding the toppings. A quick flick and the pizza slides right onto the stone. I retrieve it from the oven with the same peel.

I am considering purchasing a second peel so I could have the next pizza ready to go, but I just might try Bookmom's tongs method to retrieve the pizza right onto a cutting board. I have some recent photos of a pizza making session on my blog.

Here is a link that might be useful: pizza peel in action

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 1:29PM
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I have the one linked below.
By using parchment under the stone you are defeating the purpose of the stone...
Practise makes perfect in getting the pizza on the stone with little mess. Of course there is excess corn meal on the stone.....which you just wipe off when the stone has cooled. But not on the floor and rarely in the oven.
Practise transferring a wet wash cloth until you get the hang of it....the technique involves a quick jerk of the wrist.
And I use the same peel to remove the pizza when it's done.
Linda c

Here is a link that might be useful: peel

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 1:32PM
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I have to respectfully disagree that using parchment under the stone defeats the purpose of the stone. My crusts on the bottom are perfectly done, and all without making a mess. I quit using cornmeal when it went all over the inside of my oven, and because I bake my pizza at 500 degrees, also burned cornmeal. (In my oven.) No thanks.

I also don't like a floury crust (too dry), and adore the crispy bottom crust I can get by using olive oil and parchment. I also realize no one cares about my personal preferences, but people do line up around here when I make pizza.

Just sayin'...

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 1:43PM
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I'm like clare--I got cornmeal everywhere, kitchen floor included. And, anything left on the stone did tend to burn which is a pain when making several pizzas in a row. Bumblebeez, I used to trim the parchment like you do when I baked it on parchment the entire time; now that I've switched to removing it, those flappy sides are great for removal purposes. I think I've been making pizza regularly for (ack!) twenty or more years... but I really enjoy reading about everyone else's techniques as I'm always up for trying something new.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 3:58PM
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I make the pizza on parchment & transfer pizza & parchment directly to the stone like Claire de luna does. I have both a wooden & metal peel. Prefer the wooden one but a thin cookie sheet would work just as well. I'm a bit of a gadgetaholic, picking them up at rummage sales for cheap. After owning both styles of peels, I don't think either one of them are really worth paying full retail for when a cookie sheet would work just as well.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 5:21PM
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I have the metal peel. I now use parchment cut into a round shape because my pizzas were always bigger than my peel and flopping over the edges. I don't have that problem with parchment rounds. I just learned here a few months ago that I could yank the parchment out after a few minutes so I started doing that. I can honestly say that I couldn't tell the difference between the parchment cooked versus direct on the stone. Having the parchment paper cut to the shape of the stone lets you assemble the second one while the first one is baking.

They have a metal peel with a handle that swings in for storage on clearance at Sur La Table. I thought about picking one up as a gift. The long handle on some peels could be an issue if you have storage problems.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 6:38PM
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I used to use half-sheet sized parchment under the pizza, but didn't like how much was burning before I pulled it out of the oven. I started cutting rounds when I realized my crust recipe will make two pizzas, and by dividing the dough in half and using round parchment, I know exactly how far to stretch my dough. The bottom (up-side-down)of a half sheet pan to pull the pizza onto works really well, and I don't have to store anything extra.

Here's another tip, unsolicited as it is! Start your oven 50 degrees higher than you want to bake it, to allow for the temperature drop while your pizza goes in the oven. (I preheat mine at 550 degrees.)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 7:35PM
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I tried cornmeal once when I was out of parchment and made a big mess and had unpleasant tasting cornmeal on the bottom of the crust and shook the topings. In all other cases, I have used parchment with perfect results. I slide the square parchment with round pizza onto a cookie sheet and slide or drag it onto my preheated very heavy stone in the oven or BarBQ. I probably should remove it like bookmom, but I have just left it. It comes out a little charred on the edges but being cheap I reuse it several times anyway without having it discintegrate.

I preheat high like claire_de_luna or on the BarBQ I heat the burner under the stone and cut it off (outer burners stay on) when the pizza goes on. Perfect results. No peels to buy or store.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 9:47PM
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Having a smallish kitchen and not wanting single-use utensils/tools,I use the backside of a cookie sheet. I prepare the pizza on the backside, slide it onto the stone. Then use tongs or a spatula to drag it off the stone and on to the normal side of the cookie sheet.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:04AM
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"Having a smallish kitchen and not wanting single-use utensils/tools,

Using a perforated pizza pan, you can:

1. put the pizza dough on the pan.

2. put the pan with the dough in the preheated oven to pre-bake just the dough.

3. Take the dough out of the oven and add toppings and back into the oven.

4. Take the pan out when the pizza is done and the pan with the pie goes on your dinning table and serve.

Perforated pan gives you very nice baked dough. Many prefer pre-baked dough. Less soggy and no burnt cheese.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:52AM
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Wow, I can't imagine removing a hot heavy pizza stone from the oven, adding a pizza and then returning the heavier, very hot stone to the oven. I took my techique partially from watching the professionals put it directly on the stone/brick floor of a pizza oven, which you can't move. I use a wooden peel, I sprinkle generously with cornmeal, add the pizza crust, then build the pizza directly on the peel. The stone, which is the largest I was ever able to find, is preheated in the oven and stays there. After I finish the pizza on the peel, there is little cornmeal to fall off because it is almost all under the pizza which extends to both edges of the peel without going over it. I gently shake the peel with the pizza on it over the sink to make sure it moves freely on the peel and isn't sticking. Then over to the oven, and with one (usually) or 2 quick motions the pizza is one the stone. When its done, I remove it from the stone with the peel and the stone and extra cornmeal stay in the oven to cool completly. When cool, I lift the stone out, carry it to the sink and brush off the cornmeal into the sink.

Just thought I would share my own technique. I am impatient for summer tomatoes and fresh basil and more pizzas. :)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:08PM
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Mmm, Mabel and Sue, your pizzas look terrific. I made pizza last night; my favorite was the white pizza with sauteed red swiss chard. Dcarch's post made me remember that I, too, have gotten into the habit of parbaking crust sometimes. I dock my dough, slide the dough and parchment onto the hot stone, after 2 min, pull the dough and parchment off the stone, add toppings and then just slide the dough off the parchment back onto the stone. And I could never remove a hot stone from the oven for any of this--the hot stone stays in the oven. My large wooden cutting board acts as the peel; the parchment acts as the cornmeal. Probably a short-handled peel would be less awkward than my cutting board routine.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 7:57AM
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I have a flat, non-stick cookie sheet I use as a pizza peel. I also use parchment. I don't understand how having the parchment cut into a round allows more pizza.

Thanks for the tip of pulling the parchment out after a few minutes of baking. I'll try that.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:31AM
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Well I'm leaning towards nancylouise's KA metal peel but, since I just dropped a bundle at King Arthur for yeast, bread flour, dough bucket, etc., I am going to wait to order it until my next KA order. In the meantime I'm going to use the cookie sheet - parchment - slide to stone and remove paper method until I am sure DH will actually like my pizza. I also just ordered the Artisan Bread in 5 cookbook. You guys really inspire me to make things I normally never would. I love to read all your various suggestions and recipes. Thank you all.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 11:10AM
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It was fun hearing how everyone does it! I am always open to trying new ways. :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:01PM
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I have two wooden peels and both are good for putting pizza and bread loaves in the oven, but one is much better for getting them out. The other has a thicker, more rounded edge and it makes it harder to get under the items to be taken out. If you get a wooden one, make sure the edge is more finely tapered. The metal one would also have a finer edge.

Another one I'd look at it the one made by Epicurean. I really like their cutting boards and the fact that they can go in the DW. At some point I will probably replace the more rounded peel with one of those or a metal one. I have done the cookie sheet thing and you have a lot more control with a peel. They aren't expensive, store easily with cookie sheets and cooling racks, you can find some good buys on them at Home Goods, Marshall's etc, and you get a lot more control and safety with a peel.

If you must use a cookie sheet, I would use parchment to make it easier to transfer.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 1:05AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I went and looked at my peel and it does have a thin, tapered edge. Something about a wood peel is aesthetically pleasing to me though. It adds to the pizza parlor experience!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 7:17AM
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I just don't have space for a peel. The ones I've seen are much longer than my cookie sheet.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 7:11PM
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Sue....that looks fabulous....and that's the way I bake a pizza too....makes for such a nice crisp bottom.
Sally....look further for a peel....the one I linked to is the size of a half a sheet pan in cupboard space....and stores with the cookie sheets.
And I agree....a wooden peel really does contribute to the aesthetics of the whole pizza experience. Sliding from a wooden peel to a stone in the oven just seems to make the wine taste better! LOL!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 7:57PM
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