When we finish a beautiful oven for a customer, we help them get a few oven tools as a kick-start for wood-fired cooking. We recommend basic tools that handle most functions in a wood-fired oven: wooden peels, a metal paddle, a bubble popper, an oven brush, and several metal peels. I keep these basic tools hanging by my oven. The one most used is the metal peel.
Metal peel, leading edge
A basic long-handled peel has a 52″ handle and a 12″x14″ blade. The peel is designed to be sturdy, broad, balanced, light weight, with a thin edge. The thin edge of the metal peel slides under a pizza baking on the oven floor without smashing the dough or pushing it into the fire. It’s the same with loaves of bread. The thin edge of the metal peel slides under food so it can be easily lifted.
The ins and outs of pizza peels
As we explained in our blog on wooden peels, wet dough is more likely to stick to a metal peel than a wooden one. We recommend using your wooden peel to load pizza and bread into the oven; and a metal peel to remove the baked goods. The thin edge of a metal peel makes it an ideal tool for removing pizza and bread from the oven. The thin blade slides under food without pushing it toward the fire.
A metal peel is sturdy enough to lift lighter pans of food too. The wide blade allows sheet pans to balance on the peel. A metal peel can withstand the fire when you need to hold a dish over the flames or lift a nearly-perfect pizza up to the heat of the vault for a final blister.
As they age, metal peels transition to different uses. Keep the shiny new peels for turning and removing pizza and breads. Scuffed up metal peels move on to pan duty—lifting pans of cooked food, repositioning items in the oven. Dinged up and dented peels are handy for removing ash and coals. I have several old metal peels no longer suitable for baking that I use to quickly take out most of the accumulated ash. Then it’s a quick finish with the oven brush.
Decorative metal peel
If you’ve spent any time in a wood-fired pizzeria you may have seen small-faced, perforated metal peels. These decorative peels are beautiful and practical tool for folks baking pizza all day. If you make a lot of pizza, there are at least three reasons to consider investing in a “banjo” or “turning” perforated metal peel.
- They allow excess flour to fall through, minimizing scorching
- The perforations break up surface area, making raw dough less likely to stick to the metal peel
- The maneuverable small blade is perfect for turning pizzas in a crowded oven
Delicious pizza should not have a scorched taste—which can happen if there’s cornmeal or too much flour on the peel. A perforated metal peel allows excess flour to fall through which lessens the chance of scorching. (If you don’t have a perforated peel, use your wooden peel with just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking.)
The small faced metal peels are the right size to slide under a pizza to rotate or reposition it in the oven. The standard metal peel works too, but if you frequently bake more than three pizzas at a time (or you’re working in a very small oven) the perforated peel might be a necessity.
If you’re up for a DIY project, check out the Instructables article on making your own perforated peel from a standard restaurant supply metal peel.