Help: tips and tricks for using the peel

Currently we are using some screens and pans in our deck for various reasons, one of them being that we haven’t been able to correctly use the peel to assemble the pizza and then transfer it to the oven.

Putting flour on the helps the pizza not sticking to the peel, but the flour that sticks to the pizza adds unnecesary flavour and feeling to the finished pizza.

We could use cornmeal, but I have heard it’s not good to use with deck ovens (don’t really remember the reason).

Even if we manage to assemble a pizza correctly with just enough flour, when transfering the pizza to the deck oven the pizza stretches a litle bit when it is being placed on the surface. The result is a pie that is not quite a circle.

So I’m asking you for any tips or tricks for correctly using the peel to assemble and transfering a pizza to the oven.


'tho its been a long time since I’ve used a peel, cornmeal is the key, along with a quick flick in getting it off the peel…some might lift the edge & gently “blow” a stream of air to assist a sticky pie…you must get/use a deck brush to remove the excess/burnt cornmeal on a regular basis…

you might consider using silicon baking paper, trimmed to fit over a screen, if you still have a problem keeping the pie round…place the paper over the screen, make the pie, slide your peel between the screen & the paper & slide into the oven…the bottom will still cook up fine and will be less prone to burning…you can finish it off the paper or not…

Cooking with Bakers Pride Y-602’s…
We use wooden peels to make the pie on like you are describing. We use SEMOLINA, quite a bit finer than cornmeal. Also, no taste. Now it will burn (turn black) in the oven so what you’ll want to do is use a metal peel to pull the pie out, then place it on a large bakers rack (about 18" wide x 36" long) which sits in an oversized bakers sheet tray. Use the rack to scrape the bottom of the pie and you are good to go!
I tell new pie makers to use tons of semolina, as the dough soaks it up. Then as they become quicker they can use less semolina.

Hope it helps!


As has already been mentioned, the trick to using peels is to use a wood peel to make the pizza on and transfer it to the oven deck, and use a metel peel to remove the baked pizza from the oven.
I have seen a number of things used as peel release agents, such as wheat bran, stone ground whole wheat flour, semolina flour, fine grind corn meal, rye meal, in addition to just plain wheat flour and blends of the products mentioned. Personally, I think semolina flour or corn meal work the best. Yesm they will char a little on the bottom of the baked crust, but that is part of the flavor profile, and the corn meal adds a little extra “crackle” to the texture of the crust making it seem even more crispy. Yes, you will need to have an oven rake/broom to sweep the residual cornmeal, or whatever you are using out of the oven.
To reduce the problem of pizzas sticking to the peel, do not allow the dressed skins to set on the peel for any longer than necessary before taking it to the oven. As soon as you have sauced the skin give the peel a quick shake to make sure the dough skin is still free to slide on the peel, then finish dressing the dough skin and as you take it to the oven give it another shake, then transfer to the oven shelf. Some operators will just slide the peel in the oven and pull it back out in one smooth motion, leaving the pizza on the oven deck, others will shake the peel an they transfer the dressed dough skin to the deck. Experiment to see which works best for you. Done properly, there is no distortion of the pizza. One thing that I do in some ovens is to place the dressed dough skin right at the front of the oven where it is easy to place it, I will leave it in this position for about 2 minutes, and then, using a metal peel, I will pick it up or slide it to a position towards the back of the oven for baking. Again, you will need to experiment with your oven to determine what works best for you.
Don’t try to brush all of the cornmeal off of the baked pizza, remember, this is part of the flavor and texture profile, if your customers don’t like it, not a problem, just bake on screens or baking disks. Then, if you want, you can “deck” the pizzas. By this I mean that you will bake the pizzas on the screen or disk, and then slip it off of the screen or disk and place the pizza onto the deck surface for the last minute or so of baking. This wil help to further crisp the bottom of the pizza.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thanks for your answers they have been very helpful.

We are currently doing what Tom describes as decking – removing the pizza from the pan and placing it on the deck for the last minute.

This works good but we have found that our pans (which are perforated) are a little concave causing the center of the pizza to receive more heat.

Is this something to be expected after some use ? Or did we buy crappy pans ? I’m buying some quickdisks from pizzatools, hoping they last longer and don’t get as concave as the ones we currently have

Now, back to the peels. Do wooden peels have to be seasoned somehow ? What should I use to clean them ?

Any places where I can get a large (20 in) metal peel ?

Thanks again!

This last post was by me, I thought I was logged in.

We just wash and sanitize the peels on a daily basis and hang them up to dry overnight and we have never had any problems with them. Nothing to season. Just make sure you don’t allow them to soak in the water. Dip, scrub, rinse, sanitize, wipe, hang to finish drying.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Just a “nit pic” note but I was under the assumption the last thing you do is sanitize then air dry not wipe. The reason for this is wiping can cross contaminate.

Actually, depending on your sanitizer, wiping eliminates the sanitizing value of the residue. Chlorine/bleach should generally be left to air dry (mandated by our health code). However, due to the intense heat of the oven environment, and the likelihood of corrosion of the aluminum, I’d probably quick wipe the peel and hang . . . or use a quat sanitizer, which doesn’t have a residue sanitizing effect, if I recall correctly.