There are several accessories without which making delicious pizza might be challenging and, sometimes, even dangerous. These tools include pizza peels, and you shouldn’t think that you can easily do without them. In this article, you will learn what they are for, which irreplaceable qualities they have, and how to choose the accessory suitable for your cooking method.
What’s a Peel?
A pizza peel is a name given to unique tools that pizza makers use worldwide to put pies in hot ovens. Outwardly, they look like large spatulas with very long handles. By the way, sometimes they are also called shovels. In cooking, they can be used not only for making pizza but also for any other flour products. When choosing the right pizza peel, review the existing shapes, sizes, and materials used in production to find the perfect one for your purposes.
Why Do You Need It?
The classic Neapolitan pie should be cooked at a temperature of at least 800° F. Even being next to such an extra hot oven is not easy, let alone trying to get in there with your bare hands. A pizza peel primarily protects you from burns. With it, you can safely place the food inside a cooking chamber. Besides, thanks to its long handle, you can put the pie next to the back wall and reach further than if you did it with your hands.
Since a pizza base is soft, it might be difficult for you to transfer it gently from the table to another baking surface. You run the risk of tearing the dough or deforming the filling, which will cause the dish to lose its attractive appearance. It is to work with such delicate dishes as pizza, rolls, pies, and bread that peels are used. With their help, you can gently lift the cake, place it inside the oven, and then remove it from there, maintaining the structure. These tools are also used to rotate food inside the furnace to bake it evenly.
Things to Consider
Since peels have a fairly simple design, it might seem at first glance that choosing the right one is not difficult. However, there are also some nuances here. There are several factors you should consider to make an informed decision about purchasing an accessory.
Modern pizza spatulas have wooden handles that stay cool and protect a user from burns and a blade made of steel, aluminum, or wood. Each of these materials has both advantages and some disadvantages:
- Steel. It is strong, durable, easily tolerates temperature extremes, and does not deform even if it stays inside a hot oven for a long time. However, steel products tend to be heavy, which means they can be tricky to manipulate, especially in confined spaces. Moreover, flour and dough easily stick to them.
- Aluminum. Just like the previous material, it is heat-resistant and durable but very lightweight. A significant advantage of aluminum peels is their very thin blades, making it easy to pick up the pie from any surface. As in the case with any metal spatulas, dough sometimes sticks to them.
- Wood. This material is considered a classic since all instruments were previously made of wood. Although they are made of hardwoods, they are not as durable as their metal counterparts and need to be regularly cleaned to keep bacteria-free. Fortunately, it is not difficult to do as the dough hardly sticks to such peels.
As a rule, pros who work in restaurants and cafes prefer metal accessories, primarily for their ease of maintenance. If you do not plan on making pizza on an industrial scale, you can buy wooden spatulas as they are inexpensive.
Shape and size
Modern peels come in two shapes: round and rectangular. Professionals most often use the former. Due to the absence of corners, it’s more maneuverable and allows the user to reach the dishes near the far wall without much effort. With it, you can grab the pizza both from the front and the side. Also, round tools make it more convenient to turn pies without removing them from the oven.
For home use, rectangular spatulas are better suited because you do not need to maneuver them between several pizzas in one cooking chamber. They have a fairly large gripping area, and thanks to a bevel at the bottom, they can easily pick food from any surface.
The blade area should match the diameter of your pizzas. Typically, a 15-inch tool is sufficient to make portioned pies. Professional products can be up to 20 inches in diameter. Be sure to consider the dimensions of the cooking chamber so as not to lose the size.
Choose the grip length depending on the size of your oven and the available space in the kitchen. A long tool is not easy to handle in a narrow room. In this case, the length should be sufficient so that you can reach the back of the oven while being at a safe distance from it. For small kitchens and furnaces, choose products with a handle that is about 10-12 inches in length. For professional use and an outdoor kitchen, you can take a 50-70-inch peel. The most popular models are standard spatulas with grips of about 22-24 inches.
Among other useful characteristics, perforation is also worth highlighting. Although it does not significantly affect the cooking process and not all the tools have perforated blades, it might be helpful sometimes. It reduces the total weight of a product and helps get rid of excess flour and cereals from the dough, which can burn too much in the oven.
It is also convenient to have a tool with foldable handles. If necessary, you can turn the grip to the angle you want or completely fold it so that it does not get in the way during storage and transportation. There are also models where the handle can be entirely detached, which greatly facilitates the cleaning process.
Get Ready for Pizza Party
That’s all you need to know about the pros of peels and their main characteristics. Pizza spatulas are the type of tools that every fan of Italian cuisine needs. Choosing the right accessory is determined by the size of your kitchen, oven, and your skills. Once you have bought a suitable peel, practice handling it a bit. A couple of exercises, and you’ll be getting the pizza out of the oven quickly and deftly like a pro.