One of the most daunting tasks a pizza maker faces is getting the pie onto the baking surface. The traditional method of using a wooden peel to “launch” the pie is fraught with challenges; the main one being the pizza doesn’t always retain its round shape in the launch process. The chance of this happening increases with two factors: larger pies and larger pies that are topping heavy. A pizza with larger mass can and often will easily lose its round shape during the “launch”.
Another problem that often arises is the pizza sticking to the peel, which is somewhat solved by using a “lubricant” like cornmeal or semolina flour to keep the pizza from sticking to the peel. While both work reasonably well, using either alters the flavor profile of the bottom of the pizza, and in the case of cornmeal, not only changes the flavor, but the actual texture of the bottom of the pizza. And while using either does help the pizza to slide off the peel more easily, it still doesn’t solve the problem of toppings shifting around or the pizza changing shape during the transition from the peel to the stone.
One way to get around this common issue is to use a pizza screen. The pizza will retain its shape perfectly using a pizza screen, and toppings won’t shift around, but the downside is considerable: it will change the texture profile considerably, and is nearly impossible to get a truly uniformly crisp, bottom crust, which is usually more chewy than crisp. Another work around is to make the pizza on parchment paper, but you have to remove the paper from under the cooking pizza shortly after the pie has been baking or the parchment paper will burn. On a really hot baking stone, the parchment paper will have to be removed VERY quickly.
If what you’ve read so far is acting as a deterrent to making your own pizza, I don’t blame you. I’ve had numerous pizza disasters over the years, all of which involved getting the pizza off the peel. I never opted for the parchment method, and the one time I tried the screen method was the last. While the top of the pizza looked magnificent, the bottom of the crust was a major disappointment texture-wise. So, I took my chances with semolina and a wooden peel. With many years of practice, I got quite good at getting my pizzas on the stone with shape relatively intact (though not every time), but the toppings never were in the same position when I made the pizza, especially with larger pizzas.
Enter the Super Peel. The Super Peel is constructed like a traditional pizza peel, but with a cloth covering that acts as a conveyor belt designed to deliver your pizza onto your baking surface in the exact shape it was when you made it with no shifting of toppings.
From the manufacturer:
Super Peel® is a new and superior dough moving tool for the home baker. Although new, it is really just the marriage of two, centuries old, and traditional baker’s tools: a Baker’s Peel (that large spatula often referred as a pizza paddle) and a Pastry Cloth. The Peel provides a large dough carrying surface; and dough does not stick to the lightly floured Pastry Cloth. Wrapping the cloth around the Peel creates a small hand-held conveyor belt, which has amazing dough pick-up and handling properties.
Super Peel is very easy to use, and sized for many baking tasks. It can pick up almost any dough, even if partially stuck to your preparation surface, transport it, and then put it down again, gently and precisely, exactly where you want it, all without sticking, distortion of shape, ripping, deflation or other common problems. Super Peel can handle almost any dough moving challenge.
Miles of conveyors are used in the baking industry to carefully and efficiently transport both pre - and post-baked product throughout food processing plants without damage. Artisan bread bakers load their ovens with conveyor loaders. The Super Peel brings this professional dough handling care, precision, and ease to the home kitchen.
The question is, does the Super Peel deliver on its promise? The answer is an enthusiastic yes! I’ve made dozens of pizzas since I got my Super Peel, and each one has come out perfectly. No more semolina, no misshapen pizzas, and no more shifting of toppings. The pizza transfers easily and quickly from the peel to the cooking surface in one smooth motion.
While the manufacturer’s instructions and website recommend using the peel to pick up the pizza from the surface you made it on, and then transferring the pizza to its cooking surface, I instantly saw this as an unnecessary step. Instead, I assembled the pizza on the Super Peel, making sure the cloth conveyor had a light dusting of flour. If you were assembling multiple pizzas on a single surface, then using the Super Peel to pick up each pie individually would be necessary.
One helpful tip I highly recommend is to practice with the Super Peel before you actually use it on an actual pizza by placing a small cloth towel on the peel and learning to get comfortable with how your hands will function in the process of transferring the pizza to your cooking surface. One hand grips the handle of the Super Peel, while the other is used to grasp the plastic clasp that holds the cloth belt that covers the surface of the peel. Then, you pull back on the handle while you hold the plastic clasp firmly and motionless and the pizza transfers easily to the baking surface. It’s really that simple. Here’s a video demo:
The Super Peel comes in two sizes: Regular, which will hold up to a 14 inch pizza, or XL, which will hold up to a 16 inch pizza, which is the model I have. The regular size comes in a number of finish/material options, including food safe polymer on white ash or cherry and Richlite composite. In addition, there’s also a special model with a longer handle designed specifically for wood-fired ovens.
This brings me to the use of the Super Peel in the Blackstone Patio Oven, which is my cooking chamber of choice for pizza. It seems to me the largest possible pie to get in the Blackstone is a 15 inch pie, which isn’t much of a compromise considering the Blackstone’s cooking stone is 16 inches. In addition, it is imperative that you turn down the heat all the way on the oven when you launch the pie using the Super Peel to prevent the cloth from scorching. Once the pie is on the stone, you simply turn up the burner to the desired cooking setting. That said, if you own a Blackstone Oven, then the 14 inch Super Peel would make the most sense.
I’m guessing most people will be using the Super Peel in the oven on a baking stone, in which case the XL model would be a practical option as you can cook pizzas up to 16 inches in diameter with an 16 inch or larger pizza stone.
The Super Peel has been an absolute game changer for me and I can’t recommend this product highly enough. It’s sturdy, well built, and does what it’s supposed to do perfectly every time – I couldn’t imagine our kitchen without it, and it’s certainly helped elevate our pizzas to that of pizzeria quality every time. Here’s a few examples of perfectly round pizzas courtesy of the Super Peel:
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