Wood or steel pizza peel
I wanted to poll the group and see what type of pizza peel most folks are using to prepare and set pizza (or bread) in your oven. Are you:
1. Preparing your pizza on a countertop surface, then using a steel peel to move the pizza from the surface to the oven.
2. Preparing your pizza on a short wooden peel, and using a steel peel to move it into the oven.
3. Using a long handled wooden peel to prepare and move the pizza into the oven.
4. Making your pizzas on a short peel, and putting them into the oven directly (and burning your knuckles!).
Also, how many short wooden peels do you have in action when you throw a party? One (and fight over it), 2-4 and rotate them, or lots.
I have located a great source of wooden peels, and am working on the right strategy for home oven users.
Let me know -- it will be very helpful. Thanks for the input.
I have several peels but...
I have several peels. One long wood and one shorter. I actually like to use the shorty for building the pizza and depositing on the stone.
I have three aluminum, each for different purposes...but have not used one of them yet.
I have two wooden peels used to prep the pizzas and deposit in the oven.
I use a metal peel to rotate and remove onto pans.
During get togethers I man the oven and guests bring their creation to me.
I put in the oven and they hand the wooden peel to the next person.
And so it goes till we are out of dough.
What's the Right Size and Length?
Makes sense. What do you think is the optimal size? Is a 12"x12" blade big enough? We don't make big pizzas and that size seems to do it. Any demand for a 14"x14" blade?
Then, there is handle length. If you have a bunch of 12"x12" peels, with short 8" handles (that's what we have), you end up putting pizzas in a hot oven with a tiny peel, which isn't great. We've found wood peels with longer handles -- but I am wondering what's the right size if you want a couple of them when you are cooking for friends or for parties. If the peel gets too large, it's hard to work with.
What's a good handle length? If the blade is 12"x12", would a 28" handle be right -- or too long? That's a 40" peel.
Can you rotate a couple of those at a party?
Or, would you rather have the shorter peel, and leave it up to the pizza chef to put them in the oven?
Either way, a round peel with a glide is best way to turn and remove pizzas. :-)
All input appreciated. I find this one to be challenging for those of us who are home oven users.
Different peels, different uses
My hobby is woodworking, and I have all the necessary gear, including a thickness planer, so my choices are broad. When I'm baking in my indoor stove, I use a shortish (24"), fairly wide (14") joined pine peel. Haven't had any problems with burned knuckles using it, but I'll be making one that will accept two 1 lb round loaves, so I can load them both onto the stone at the same time. Whe I proof in bowls, I usually turn the bread onto the peel. For the brick oven I made something more serious (sort of a fashion statement, blush). The blade is a single piece of figured tiger, flame, birdseye maple, 10" wide and 18" long. The handle is black walnut, dovetailed into the blade, and the entire peel is 6 feet long. This is sized for two 8" hearth breads at a time. Under construction, I've got several more on the go: longer and wider, for baguette, etc. One snag. I'm trying to order detachable metal peel clips from Lillsun Peels in, I think, Indiana, but I haven't heard back from them yet. The plan is to make a bunch of blades of different shapes that will accept these clips, so I can proof on the blades, then load the oven one after the other, using just one handle. Lillsun is the only source I've found for these, but maybe there are others?
For anybody wanting to make their own tapered blade out of a single piece of wood, you'll need a bandsaw and some pine scrap to start, but it doesn't have to be as wide as the finished blade width, although it can be. Select the taper you want, and cut the pine piece(s) to the same length as the finished peel. Make sure the tapers are exactly the same if you're using pieces, and that they fill the length and width of the finished piece, if not, sand or hand plane them until they're dead even (no rocking at all on a flat surface). Then tape the pine to the piece you want for your peel using only the best quality, industrial grade, double-sided tape of the sort that's often used by wood turners on the lathe (don't use too much tape, and don't worry, it's so sticky you might have a bit of trouble prying the pieces apart after you're finished). Test again to make sure everything is flat on the (pine scrap) bottom. In effect, you'll be fooling the planer into thinking the piece is simply high on the end. Feed through the planer (good side up :o ), taking very small cuts at first, AND with the low end going in first (otherwise it will kick back at you :mad: ). You will need a push stick at the beginning, because the rollers won't engage quite yet. As the planing progresses, you can take deeper cuts, because the area being planed is larger and the rollers will engage much sooner to pull the wood in. The key is to take your time with this and be bloody careful. Alternately, of course, if you have access to a bandsaw with a very deep throat (say 14" or so), all this becomes unnecessary, because you can cut your taper on the finish piece. Laguna makes the best of these large saws, and I wish I had one, or at least access to one.
If you want to use joined wood, on the bandsaw taper as many pieces as you'll need for the finished width, glue with the best quality glue you can find (I use 202 GF from Lee Valley Tools because it has very high shear strength), and use lots of clamps. Then finish with a sander to about 600 grit or hand plane, then a cabinet scraper to get that fine shiny finish.
I have no real grudge against metal peels, but somehow, with a wood fired brick oven, they just don't seem to fit. As time goes on, though, I might be converted, especially if I start baking pizzas.
Great timing. Forno Bravo has just become a dealer for Lillsun, so folks can get their peels and handles from us. Lillsun doesn't really sell retail, as they typically deliver everything in 12-packs.
I want to experiment with their detachable head for pizza parties. I have a mental picture of 5-6 blades being used to assemble pizzas, and the pizzaiolo using the handle to pick them up and put them in the oven. We'll see.
The handle isn't expensive, so send me a private message.
We are also going to be stocking the standard (handle attached) wooden peels, and I am deciding on blade (head) size and handle length.
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