If you’re a pizzaiolo at home, having a pizza peel is an essential tool. There are both wooden and metal ones, with most people preferring metal because it’s far more durable and easier to clean. However, if you’re not careful, your fabulous dough will stick to the metal peel and make cooking your pie a kitchen conundrum.
We’re going to talk about how to keep pizza dough from sticking to metal peel. While there are several elements to consider, the biggest problem is a lack of a proper barrier between the dough and the peel. There are basically two options here: parchment paper or a large coarse grain like cornmeal or flour.
Regardless of what you choose, you will still have to work quickly since the pizza can still stick to the metal peel. Therefore, there may be something of a learning curve before you get your technique down just right. So, expect a period of experimentation.
Tips for How to Keep Pizza Dough from Sticking to Metal Peel
The following six tips are the best way in how to keep pizza dough from sticking to metal peel. Once you get the hang of using it, it’ll be a cinch and you’ll certainly devise your own finessed methods of prevention. Yet, the ones mentioned below are requisites and come highly recommended by professional chefs.
1. Ensure It’s Clean ; Dry
Believe it or not, a metal peel that isn’t clean or dry enough will cause the dough to stick to it. If there’s any caked on cheese, dough, sauce and other pizza schmaltz on the peel, it won’t release the pizza properly into the oven. Even if you just washed the peel, residual moisture will adhere the dough to the surface.
So, before you begin putting your dough onto the peel, inspect it thoroughly. If you have to wash the peel again, make sure you use a clean, dry towel and wait about 30 minutes before you use it. Then, just before your ready to roll out your dough, use yet another dry paper towel to ensure the surface is moisture free.
2. Use a Separate Surface for Dough Preparation
Do not prepare and roll out your dough on the peel itself. Even if you use the right kind of barrier (which we’ll discuss shortly), it will cause the dough to stick to the metal in undesirable ways. You want to use a counter, cutting board or a silicone surface.
Start by sprinkling a little flour under and over the dough ball before rolling it out into the desired size and shape. Also, use your fingers to flatten out the circumference from the center outward and flip it halfway through. This gives you greater control over crust formation while preventing the dough from sticking to the peel.
3. Use a Barrier
Having some kind of barrier between the dough and the peel will be the best way to release the pie into the oven and retrieve it when finished cooking. Here, you can sprinkle flour or cornmeal OR use a piece of parchment paper on the peel. You’ll add this barrier right after you’ve finished rolling out the dough to the desired size.
Flour or Cornmeal
Dusting or sprinkling flour or cornmeal is what most pizzaiolos do to prevent dough from sticking to the peel. In fact, you can use either substance or a blend of the two. For flour, sprinkle about one tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half over the surface. Ideally, semolina is best for this but you can use whatever you have on hand.
In regards to cornmeal, don’t use more than ½ tablespoon. This is because too much cornmeal can end up smoking and burning in the piping hot oven. Such a thing can leave little burned particles on the bottom of your pizza, which isn’t very appetizing.
If you want to go with a blend of flour and cornmeal, create a 50/50 mix of both. This is good for when your all-purpose flour is too fine of a powder and doesn’t provide the same kind of grit that cornmeal or semolina flour does.
Only go with parchment paper as a barrier in the case you have a substandard metal peel. Sometimes, we purchase a metal peel at a great price, only to end up sacrificing savings for quality. The problem with using parchment is how it can char during the baking process or shift the dough off of it altogether, which creates its own problems.
This is because you should expect the parchment to also release from the peel with the dough when you put it into the oven. You can try holding onto the parchment, but you should be certain sure you work quickly so the peel doesn’t get exposed to heat for too long.
Don’t use wax paper or aluminum foil as a barrier for pizza dough. The aluminum foil will not only stick to the dough but it will make things more chaotic as you try to release the pizza into the oven. Wax paper is not safe for the oven and the chemicals on the surface will melt into the dough, rendering your beautiful pie inedible.
4. Work Quickly
The barrier factor brings us to our next tip, which is to work as quickly as possible. No matter what your barrier, you must work quickly once the dough is resting on the metal surface. You have only a matter of mere minutes before the barrier begins sticking to the dough.
This means having all your toppings out and ready to go, including sauce, cheese, meats and veggies. Also, make sure you have an idea of how you want to organize your toppings beforehand while ensuring balanced coverage. It will just make things go a little faster.
All this combines to help you create a mouthwatering pizza while preventing the dough’s adherence to the metal peel. You want to work quickly but not spastically; be calm but firmly assured in your movement and speed.
5. Employ a Shaking or Rocking Motion
Another essential tip is to use a short rocking or shaking motion forward and backward on a slight angle. It will keep the barrier and dough in motion so that nothing sticks to the surface. You should shake periodically while putting on your toppings and for when you transfer the pie into the oven.
If you want to practice ahead of time, use a slightly damp rag of flimsy silicone mat on the metal peel with a little cornmeal underneath. The idea is to use a material that will act something like uncooked pizza dough while also shifting atop the coarse grain under it. If it falls, ther’s no loss.
6. Avoid Heat Touching the Peel
While it may sound impossible to avoid touching your metal peel to heat, it is an important step to keep in mind. Of course, it will encounter the oven and, ergo, touch heat. But, you want this contact to be as short as possible. If the heat transfers to the metal peel, it will begin cooking the dough.
When this happens, the dough sticks to the peel and no amount of flour or cornmeal will release it into the oven. So, once you’re ready to put the pie in for baking, use that shaking/rocking motion to gently place it onto the pizza pan or baking stone.
These tips are the most advisable in how to keep pizza dough from sticking to metal peel. If you’re still having problems with adherence, then you may need to do some troubleshooting. Consider revising your dough recipe, ensuring the oven temperature is hot enough and timing yourself on how long it takes to top your pie.