Author Topic: Newbie Question About Peels  (Read 6817 times)

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Offline harvey

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Newbie Question About Peels
« on: January 28, 2005, 12:20:27 AM »
Hi, I already own a peel but it's pretty lame. It's a little dinky affair that came prepackaged with my pizza stone and it isn't big enough to handle the pizzas I want to make. I'd like to buy a new one but I'm afraid I don't know much about them so I have a few questions:

1.) Why are all the big peels made of metal?
2.) Does the metal cling to the dough? It seems like it would, and I know you're supposed to dust your peel first (and I do), but it just seems like a cold piece of sheet metal would be about the grippiest thing you could put your pizza on... short of a thick shag carpet.
3.) My current peel is made of an annoyingly soft wood (so soft you can literally scar it deeply with your fingernail) are all wooden peels like this?
4.) I have the idea that a wooden peel, made of a firm hard wood, would be great for pizzas. Would that kind of peel be good?
5.) The pizzas I make tend to be 16" or up, what size peel should I be looking for?

Anyone care to help me?


Offline Steve

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2005, 07:37:19 AM »
I have the same question!
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Offline canadave

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2005, 09:24:56 AM »
I can only speak to question #5, as I too make 16" pizzas (I'd ideally make 18" pizzas, but my oven can only accomodate 16".)  I have a 16" x 17" peel, and I'm starting to wish I had a slightly larger one.  I think 18" x 18" would be ideal.  The reason I say this is that I miss having some extra space; as it is, my pizzas tend to droop over either edge because of the tight conformity with the pizza diameter I'm trying to achieve.

Dave

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2005, 09:47:20 AM »
There's a joke lying somewhere around the wood question. A blind man interviews for a job in a Canadian logging operation as a wood grader...All I can think about is the punch line involving loblolly pine #5.
Seriously, cheap wood warps easily so that's why bigger peels are metal. If you use Italian grease (corn meal) metal is no more sticky than wood. 
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Offline canadave

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2005, 10:17:24 AM »
hehe...

The only problem with the Italian grease (corn meal) idea is that it's a pain to have to keep cleaning it out of your oven.  I used to use corn meal for quite some time, and then got tired of having little corn meal ball bearings flying around all over the place.  Now I just use flour, and I'm much happier.

Offline scampi

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2005, 12:56:52 AM »
I bought mine on Ebay..$5.95. I use a pizza screen to bake a 16" on. Then I have my pizza stone sitting on the counter so when the pie is done I just lift it out with the peel. If the pizza is sticking to the pizza screen I just slide the peel under the screen and slide it out onto the pizza stone that I use to let the pizza cool a little and cut on it...easy Check out ebay..some pretty cheap peels there.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2005, 11:42:22 AM »
I have both a wood peel and a metal peel and if I had to pick only one to use in a home environment, I would pick the wooden one.

Metal peels were originally designed to remove pizzas from the oven, primarily by professional pizza operators. The blades of the metal peels are very thin--much thinner than wooden peels--and much easier to slide under a baked pizza.

It is also easier to dress a pizza on a wooden peel, without the risk of sticking. Some pizza operators will use a metal peel to insert and remove pizzas from the oven, but usually this is for small pizzas, such as Neapolitan style pizzas which can be dressed on a work surface and then dragged onto the metal peel by hand to be then peeled into the oven. Using a dusting agent such as corn meal or flour might work on a metal peel, but you will have to use more than on a wooden peel, and you also increase the likelihood of a buildup of baked cornmeal in the oven that has to be cleaned from time to time.

As for the size of peel to use, the blade (the part of the peel on which a dressed pizza sits) should have dimensions sufficient to hold the largest size pizza you plan to make. If you use a pizza stone, it should also be able to accommodate that size. Otherwise, using tiles that will do so, or using a pizza screen are other options. I have found that I can use my wooden peel with any of those alternatives to remove a baked pizza from the oven. I use the metal peel only because I have one available to use. If you can afford to have both, that is a good way to go. There are many good sources of both types.

Peter

Offline FornoBravo

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2005, 03:44:25 AM »
I think there are two school:

Build your pizza on a floured work surface, and slide you steel peel underneath, or build your pizza directly on a wooden peel. I've seen pizzaioli in Naples build three pizzas an a huge wood peel at one time, and slide all three into the oven. Very cool.

Mostly you see table preparation and a metal peel in Italian restaurants.

Either way, you need a steel peel to turn (if you have a brick oven) and remove you pizza. I have found http://www.instawares.com to be good and reliable.

Personally, I don't like using cornmeal. It isn't traditional, and gives a distinctive browned cornmeal flavor and texture -- which you might not like. Try using just enough flour to keep your pizza from sticking. Or, try Semolina.

FB

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2005, 10:30:30 AM »
From what I have read and seen of Italian pizzas on TV, the pizzas are small with few toppings. So, it is fairly easy to either slide a metal peel under the pizza after it is dressed (often on a smooth marble or granite surface) or to drag the dressed pizza onto the metal peel. I wouldn't try that on a metal peel with a big pizza.

I once saw Emeril on TV dress a large pizza directly on a counter surface. He loaded it with several toppings. As I watched, I wondered how in God's name he was going to get the dressed pizza onto a peel. I saw him tug at the edges of the pizza as he pondered what he should do, and he had a puzzled look on his face as he undoubtedly discovered what a mistake he had made. I never saw how he got the pizza onto the peel since the program broke for a commercial. After the commercial, Emeril suggested to the audience that one should build the pizza on a peel not on a work surface. I don't recall that I ever did see how the pizza made it off of the work surface. I have always been amused by Emeril's pizza making. He constantly makes errors and his doughs are laughable (e.g., grossly under-kneaded dough) to anyone who regularly makes pizzas at home. Fortunately, he has a large staff that works behind the scenes during commercial breaks to correct many of his errors.

I, too, have found instawares to be a good source of pizza accessories. They offer one of the widest selections and some of the best prices. However, I don't know if I have had a single order go through without a hitch (missing items, damaged items, out of stock items, etc.). But they are good at correcting things once you call them, and you have to be patient.

Peter



« Last Edit: February 21, 2005, 09:21:09 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline addicted

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2005, 10:42:40 PM »
Use a wood peel only. Flour it . Make your pizza on the peel. after you are done preparing the pizza, pull the dough on the handle end up and blow underneath it to get an air pocket in the middle of the pie. The pie will slide on the stone with one effortlessly.
Well....okay,then.


Offline Mahoney

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2005, 04:27:25 PM »
For what it is worth, here is the peel I use...

http://www.superpeel.com/index.htm

It is really the only peel I have used so I can't compare it to a regular peel with flour/ corn meal, but it does work very well.  The working surface is only 14" x 14" though

Gary Casper

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2005, 10:23:44 AM »
Super Peel is the only way to go.  Even if you think you are pretty good with the jerk and slide thing, I would bet that there are times when it just doesn't go all that well.  The Super Peel works perfectly everytime.  How do I know?   My daughter and I invented it.

The Super Peel is featured in the Equipment Corner of the current issue of Cook's Illustrated Magazine and will be shown on America's Test Kitchen in the 2006 season.  Last week we night we received a call from Emerils.com.  This seems to be finally taking off, and I wish to thank all those who have purchased a Super Peel over the last several years.  It has been one long haul!

Regards,

Gary & Jennifer Casper
EXOProducts, Inc.
www.superpeel.com

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2005, 10:31:26 AM »
Gary,
Nice looking invention. Do they come in bigger sizes than 14"? I typically make a 15" - 16" pie.
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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2005, 10:51:20 AM »
They do not come in larger sizes at the moment, but I have made custom Super Peels up to 24" wide in the past (I can send you a pic).  Someday again, perhaps....................  But right now I am smelling the smoke of a wildfire coming in my direction, and I am on the run, big time.  I started it, though!!  So, I just cannot take on any extra tasks right now.

Option - the standard 14" wide Super Peel is expandable in width, by the simple addition of a wider sheet of thin cardboard or other similar material underneath the belt. This easily carries the minor load overhanging the cloth and board, and the pizza will slide just fine.  I haven't pushed it, but 1/2" to 1" on either side is fine.  Result is a 14" X up to 16" pizza.  I will at some time proably offer a simple expansion kit that will include a wider belt.

Want to give it a try, we are offering a price reduction during Cook's Illustrated run.

Gary

Offline friz78

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Re: Newbie Question About Peels
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2005, 12:39:06 PM »
Harvey,
I agree with most posters that a wood peel is probably best for preparing and transferring a dressed pizza to the oven.  However, you are also correct that it is very hard, if not impossible, to find a wooden peel that exceeds 16", which makes it unusable for folks like us that prefer making larger size pies.

I have a peel that is 17" and it is steel.  Initially, I struggled a bit with transfering 16" pizzas from the peel to the oven, with sticking being the major problem.  Since that time, however, I have mastered the technique and no longer consider it a problem.  And best of all, my new technique uses LESS flour/cornmeal than I was using before.  I will say, also, that I have not yet tried Addicted's "air pocket" technique, but it sounds like that is the best way to go by far.

If you are reluctant to try addicted's technique or would prefer to try a more "traditional" technique here is what I do:

1.)  Sprinkle flour around a metal peel so that the majority of it is covered in flour.  Then, tip the peel sideways at about a 45 degree angle and "tap" the peel on your work table.  This will serve to spread the flour evenly across the peel and, at the same time, remove all the excess flour off the peel.  This step has been invaluable for me, as it significantly reduces the amount of flour on the peel and, at the same time, it better insures that the the entire peel is coated (there are no "gaps" on the peel where potential sticking could occur).  After executing this "tapping" technique, you will find that 70% of the flour that you initially sprinkled on the peel is now sitting on your work surface and not on your peel. 

2.)  I then take a very, very small amount of corn meal and sprinkle it on the peel, over the flour.  There is not a need for a significant amount of corn meal with this technique, as the flour will do most of the work.  The corn meal is simply an extra safeguard against sticking.

3.)  After spreading the dough on your work surface, simply pick it up and transfer it to your peel.  ONCE IT IS ON THE PEEL DO NOT TRY TO SPREAD IT ANYMORE. 

4.)  Give the peel a little wiggle and you should notice that the spread dough moves around the peel freely.

5.)  Dress the pizza and then transfer to your oven/stone

This technique has worked great for me and, as I said earlier, uses minimal amounts of flour/cornmeal.
Friz