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Should I make my pizzas on a prep table or on my pizza peel?

It depends.

Professional pizzaiolos make their pizzas on a cold, flat work surface, and the expertly slide a placing peel under the pizza, without messing up it’s beautiful shape, before sliding the pizza into the oven—again without messing up the beautiful shape and design. But we’ve all been to pizza making parties where someone accidentally destroys their pizza trying to slide a peel under it. Plus, many of us use too much flour, to avoid those stick-and-burn disasters, and we end up putting a bunch of excess flour in the oven, which burns, and ruins the flavor of my pizza.

What are we supposed to do?

If you are using a small portable pizza oven, rotating oven or electric pizza oven, or a countertop pizza oven, you might find it easier to make your pizzas directly on your placing peel—either wood or anodized aluminum, and then simply slide them into your small oven. You won’t burn your hand, and you won’t make a mess of that beautiful pizza you just made.

But if you have a larger oven, let’s say a mid-size steel or refractory oven, or a full-size oven, then things get a little bit tricky. It all comes down to the length of your pizza peel’s handle, and how you slide your pizza into a larger oven, without burning your hand. Of course that’s because the middle of a larger oven is much further than you can reach with a 12×14″ rectangular peel with an 8-10″ handle.

One easy option is to buy a long-handled wood pizza peel, and just keep making your pizza creations on top of the peel, and then use the longer handle to slide the pizza into the oven. This works, with a couple of caveats. First, long-handled peels are very clumsy when laid horizontally cross you counter, and they tend to knock things over. Also, they really aren’t that long-handled. Long enough for a mid-size oven, but not a lot more. And your pizza workflow will be pretty clunky. Sliding in pizzas, cleaning the messy wood peel head, making sure it isn’t wet, or have any sauce or cheese stuck that will ruin the next pizza. And you need a stack of them to keep the pizzas coming for your party guests.

It isn’t optimal.

If you have a larger oven, it’s probably time to invest in a high quality anodized perforated placing peel with a lightweight rectangular anodized handle to the length you need to reach into your oven without burning your hands. It will probably have a handle of 48″, or even longer. And take your lumps while you learn how to expertly slide a peel under your pizzas without destroying them, and without using too much or too little flour. Think of it as half the fun of owning a real pizza oven.