A pizza peel is a kind of wood or metal paddle, used to slide a pizza into the oven, move and turn it while cooking, and take it out again when it’s done. Pizza peels allow you to make a pizza in advance, then slide it directly onto a pizza stone to cook, without damaging the base or disturbing the toppings. This is a critical skill to master for wood fired ovens, where pizzas are placed deep in a very hot oven. Peels are very useful for home pizza cooking as well, but a shorter handled peel like this one will do the job.
The best peel for home use is a wooden one. A wooden pizza peel will help slide you pizzas without sticking, as the wood absorbs some of the moisture from the base and stops it from sticking. The worst disaster is when your pizza sticks to the peel, changing its graceful slide into a messy cartwheel. This may well be how calzone was invented!
Before using a wood pizza peel, sprinkle some flour over it and then rub the flour into the wood. Over time, your peel becomes even more slippery as it builds up a coat of flour.
Once you have floured your peel, you simply place a prepared pizza base on it, add your toppings, and slide it into the oven!
- It can be useful to keep several peels, so you can prepare a few pizzas at once and put each into the oven as soon as the last is cooked.
- Instead of using wheat flour on your peel, try using white rice flour. This is less prone to absorb moisture and become sticky, and it is also less likely to burn on the pizza stone. I keep a small shaker of rice flour handy for this purpose.
- If your pizza sticks to the peel, try quickly but carefully shaking the peel back and forth. If this doesn’t work, try lifting the spot where it is sticking and brushing some flour underneath.
- If you don’t have a peel, you can use a flat cookie tray, turned upside down. If you do, don’t leave the pizza sitting on it for too long as it may stick! Or, try making your own.