Deck oven guys....

What’s the preferred size peel in relation to the size pizza you are making?
I do an 18" but it often is more like a 16-1/2"!
I have an 18" peel but also a 20 as I thought that might give me the opportunity to oversize it a bit.

(The issue must be some shrinkage coming off the peel and in the oven?)

Skins shrink. You could launch on a screen then, after the pizza has set, transfer directly on to the deck. That should keep the skins very close to the size you intended.

OK… I mean if it is what it is, then…
I tried the screen thing and it works (I was on screens for 32 years) but man… that’s a PITA!

we use a 20" peel and cut the skin just a bit larger than the circle, that usually accounts for shrinkage…unless my dad is helping out the pizzas are all different sizes.

My biggest pizza is 14 inch. And I use 14" wood peel to make pizza. And a 12" metal peel to remove from the oven. I find the main reason for shrinkage is to much shaking back fourth to remove sticking from the wood peel. I assume you have magic markered out the 18" on your peel, using a screen to outline. So make the pizza, and just before you head to the oven pull the outer edges of the dough to make sure it is in the outlined bounders, maybe a little extra. Then open the oven door, set the peel on the open door(where its level) and give just a couple shakes to loosen from the peel, then move to the location where you want the pizza and give a couple more shakes to get it off the peel.
I think people lacking confidence in the whole “getting the pizza off the peel” thing makes them want to move it back and fourth too much, causing the pizza to shrink. When you are doing any pre-shakes back and worth, make sure the pizza has not shrunk to much. If so shut the oven door and resize it. This is especially important with larger pizzas 14" inch and up.

Thanks, guys.
Did the outline and yes… I do lack some confidence in removing from the peel.
Started re-stretching a bit after cheese/sauce/toppings this am and that has helped a bit; just getting back the 1"
I seem to always lose.
Thanks, again.
Just got one of those slotted peels to help with some of the semolina, as well.

We do a 12 in, 16 in, 18 in, and 20 in (for slices). We use a 16in board for the 12 and 16 in, an 18 inch for the 18, and a 20 in for the slice pie. I like the board being the actual size of the pizza so I don’t have to guess or look at a faded line. You should get the hang out getting it off the peel w/o shrinking pretty quickly. Just make sure you’re using enough flour on the board

Also, a wooden, light and thin peel is easier to use imo. I really like the Lillsun brand.

We do 12-16-18 and slice pie ends up being a bit bigger 19inches or so. The 12 inch has its own peel 12 inches. Everything else is on a 20 inch peel. Dust the peel with flour and put both sides of your dough in the flower open it sauce cheese it and lift the back of the skin a bit blow under till you get a little bubble in the middle and shoot it.

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I did notice last night… which was horribly slow, by the way… I got the pie sliding and did give it a harder pull than I had been. Been doing a methodical back and forth getting it off the peel and I think that did some of the shrinking. Last night, gave it (once sliding) a pretty quick yank and it came off the peel (90% of the way) quickly and smoothly w/ no shrinkage, really.

I usually do a bunch of small quick back and forth movements this way you can control the shape and how much comes off the peel easier.

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And that’s what I’ve been doing, but yesterday I found myself doing a couple of the short ones and then a pretty quick bigger one… then a few short ones and done. Obviously… not so easy to explain.

Unless I’m having a problem with the dough adhering to the peel I use one fluid motion in and out with only a slight shake before the oven. My experience is that the more you shake it to get the dressed skin off of the peel the more it shrinks back.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

It’s been a long time since I worked on a deck oven, but we started with screens and took them off the screens to finish. I needed to be in there fooling around rotating and moving pies anyway so I never thought of the screen thing as a PITA.

Keep your wood peels as clean as possible. Sand them down once a month if you have to and retreat. Maybe a little cornmeal would help. We do 10” pizzas all way up to 24” party pizzas and we use a sheeter. Just make sure to use a good amount of flour when rolling your pies and we sprinkle cornmeal on wood peel and rock pizza, cut out with size screen pizza we need and sauce and top and throw in oven. Without cornmeal and clean wood peels we would get a lot of misshaped pizzas.

We use deck ovens, but use screens throughout the baking process. We deck the pies at the end if the bottoms need extra color, however. Deck ovens are hard enough go to handle as it is, and fear taking the pies off the screens would complicate the process too much and result in some burnt pies. Our shop has a big rotating deck oven with six shelves holding a total of 30 16” pies at a time.

Still, I’m considering lowering the heat and trying baking on a screen first and sliding it off onto the deck for the remainder of the time. Obviously this creates a greater need of oven management, so I only see this making sense if it significantly produces a crispier crust. Does anyone have experience with this actually making a big difference?

I have a similar oven- rotating deck. And it likes to squeal, too… but that’s another thread.
The crust I get is great, but no screen.
If I were to have a larger order… tricky.
I may start on screens and as soon as possible remove them and go right on the deck.
This is all new to me, but my limited experience with what we are talking about is that if you start on a screen- and then remove the screen as soon as physically possible- you will not get the same crust (crispiness and texture) as though you started on the deck. I know that was painful to read!

“Sand them down once a month”
Your the first person to mention that, Jeremy.
I got some sandpaper 2 weeks ago- pretty fine grit but it makes a BIG difference!
I ran my hand over one of the peels and if felt like sandpaper… 80 Grit!
My first thought was “well, cornmeal, semolina or flour… why am I starting with a peel that feels as smooth as pavement?”