Author Topic: The 18" question  (Read 1566 times)

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Offline PizzaSean

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The 18" question
« on: December 25, 2011, 03:08:28 AM »
So I have long held the belief that my favorite pies that claimed to be 18" tended to actually be slightly larger than that. I have yet to take a tape measure to a pie but I know that my peel is just barely 18" and looks to be about the size I see at most local pizzerias in the NY metro area.

However I commonly see that they let the edges hang slightly off on the sides of the peel.

I am thinking of experimenting with this next time I bake since my stone is a full 18" deep but is a little wider.

My problem is that I will stretch a skin larger than the peel but then have to let it retract slightly for the purposes of launching without disaster.

 I know I can't push past an 18" diameter but does anyone have any tips on how to maximize the side to side width? Front to back is Easier to control during the launch. Maybe I just need to let a little hang off of the edges on the sides...


Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: The 18" question
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2011, 10:16:27 AM »
I make an 18" on a 16" stone. How do I do it? I start the pie on an 18" screen and as soon as it is firm enough, I pull the screen and the pizza cooks fine on the stone from that point. I like my 18"'ers on the crispy side, so naturally the dough is thin. Good luck!
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Re: The 18" question
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2011, 05:38:40 PM »
Sean, my favorite place growing up did 21" slice pies. If I had the equipment to handle 21" pizzas I think my heat would explode I'd be so happy.

There's also the places in Hoboken that do slices as big as your arm.  It's been almost 20 years since I've had a Hoboken slice, and although the crust and sauce were not as good as my local place, the size was magical.

Bigger slices of pizza are almost always better.  This is always why I push people to get the largest stone that their oven can handle, with a correspondingly large peel.

I'm sure that one of the New Haven folks will chime in extolling the virtues of oblong pizzas, but, for NY, you really should strive for round. If, in your attempts for a round pizza, you end up with something oblong, there's nothing to be ashamed of, but purposely setting out to make an oblong pizza because that's the size of your stone, no, not for NY.

As far as extending the skin beyond the peel... the peel already has sloping edges, so if you go all the way to the edge (or past) and have a small rim (recommended) with sauce near the rim... the sauce is going to slide.

I say work with what you've got.  18", round and don't hang off the edge.

Offline PizzaSean

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Re: The 18" question
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2011, 09:31:09 PM »

Round is the goal here. I was not specific enough about my problem...

Typically pre-launch I can succeed in getting a 18"+ round size.

When I go to launch I find that in loosening the pie to make sure it won't stick, the edges contract slightly so I lose a little diameter.

Because I can place the dough at the deepest part of the stone during the launch I can then pull it to the full 18" front to back. But doing this my side to side might only be about 17" or a bit less.

So my idea was to try to overcompensate for that by going over the edge a little bit.

I was curious if anyone had any problems with this before.


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Re: The 18" question
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2011, 09:52:57 PM »
Sean, as I pull the peel back, it's hard not to stretch the pizza a bit.  I've tried to compensate by stretching the pizza a bit further on the sides, but I've found that whenever I jiggle the peel to loosen the pie (which, because of my slightly higher hydration, I do a lot), the skin travels clockwise. I've been trying to practice so that when I jiggle I can either prevent the rotation, or rotate in the opposite direction, but so far, I can't do it consistently.

Hmmm... I wonder if changing hands might help.

Now that I think of it, my fear of sauce migration when the skin is stretched to the edges of the peel might date back to when I was using much more water-y sauce. Now that I'm using much thicker sauce, I might go back to using the sides on the peel.  I don't think I'm ready to have the pizza ever hang off the sides, though.

I guess if you can loosen the pizza from the peel without rotating it AND you are using a sauce that's thick enough that it doesn't travel while the skin is on a slanted edge, then perhaps you could try stretching the skin beyond the edges on the sides.

Another thing you might want to think about trying is stretching the skin beyond the edges and then gently pushing it back on the peel.  If there's no tension, the skin should pull in less when you launch it.


Offline chickenparm

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Re: The 18" question
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2011, 11:16:56 PM »
Without a deck oven,It can be very challenging to place a specific sized pie just right in a home oven with a stone or steel plate of a certain size,as you already know.

I bought a super peel that is 20x20 inch size.I do not have a stone or steel plate that large yet,but I want to order something soon, that is at least 18x20 so I can launch pies up to that that size,without using a screen.My oven can hold a 18 inch pie front door to back wall ,and about 22-23 inches side to side.

With a 20x20 peel,you can place a round screen or round pan that is 18x18 and use a permanent marker to trace the circle size onto peel.If you measure and mark the peel,you can ink an 18 X 20 circle onto it.

Then you wont ever have to worry about the dough being too large or small,or hanging off the sides of another smaller peel.