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s
stonesown Jan 13, 2008 05:51 PM

Sunday night pizza is becoming a tradition in my house. We are having a problem getting the fully loaded pizza off the peal. Any suggestions? I imagine perfection stars with the dough but for the record, we have a metal peal (maybe wood is better?) and tried cornmeal.

Thanks for any suggestions.

  1. JoanN Jan 13, 2008 06:21 PM

    You might just be putting too much "stuff" on the pizza and putting that stuff too close to the edge. I have a wood peel, but I find it hard to believe the peel would make a difference.

    Also, if you really want to pile on the goodies, you might try a diferent dough. Peter Reinhart's Neo-Neapolitan Dough isn't the easist dough to work with (it's a bit sticky), but it makes a crisp crust and the crown has a bunch of airy pockets which rise up around the filling and help to contain it.

    1. l
      Lilbug Jan 13, 2008 09:23 PM

      I roll or stretch my dough on a square of parchment paper. Then when I have the pizza the way I want it, I trim the excess with a scissors.

      1. Cheese Boy Jan 13, 2008 10:28 PM

        If it's metal, the only thing that would help is a fairly generous coating of oil before laying the dough on it. Avoid cornmeal if you do this because it would only act as added traction. The pizza should then slide right off. One caveat ... your pizza stone will stain. (Or you can view the staining as >>> the stone becoming "seasoned"). HTH.

        1. b
          bobfxd Jan 14, 2008 04:56 AM

          I had the same problem so I went to the local pizza shop and watched them make some pizza.They use a floured wooden peel to slide it into the oven and a metal peel to remove it.Dough slides off wood easily,if it sticks to the stone while cooking the metal peel will remove it.Slice on pizza pan,do not slice on peel or you will ruin it.Also don't let dough sit on peel any longer than you have to,have everything ready and work quickly.

          1. alkapal Jan 14, 2008 05:08 AM

            prep the pizza off peel, then sprinkle cornmeal (medium-fine) on peel.

            then, put pizza on peel, take to oven, put peel edge on back side of stone with a little bump, so you get the lip of the pizza dough "stuck" on the stone, and quickly pull out (use a tilt so gravity helps slide the pizza off).

            when removing baked pizza, lift edge with peel, get a "toehold" then shove peel horizontally with force.

            don't cut on peel. will scratch and ruin.

            2 Replies
            1. re: alkapal
              firecooked Jan 14, 2008 05:34 AM

              I agree with the above, but would like to add one more important pointer... make sure to use plenty of flour when rolling out (or otherwise forming) the pizza dough.

              Also, have a spatula ready to help "push" the pizza off the peel if it sticks a bit.

              1. re: firecooked
                alkapal Jan 14, 2008 06:14 AM

                second the "helper spatula" -- one from a bbq set (with a looong handle) is esp. helpful!

            2. p
              Procrastibaker Jan 14, 2008 05:28 AM

              Let's see... I use a wooden peel and parchment, plus I pre-bake the crust for c. 5 min. (400 oven) then add sauce and toppings.

              16 Replies
              1. re: Procrastibaker
                alkapal Jan 14, 2008 05:33 AM

                procrastibaker (love the name!), i like that idea of prebaking the crust. how thick is your crust, typically?

                1. re: alkapal
                  p
                  Procrastibaker Jan 14, 2008 11:03 AM

                  Thanks! Mine is probably 1/2-3/4 in. thick-- I'd say it's a true thin crust-- not doughy, but not a cracker crust either. It uses a good amount of olive oil so I pre-bake 'til it doesn't look shiny (might be less than 5 min.). This helped keep the middle from getting soggy. Thanks for the tip on not cutting directly on the peel...

                  1. re: Procrastibaker
                    alkapal Jan 14, 2008 01:09 PM

                    soggy middles are the bane! i will definitely take up your pre-bake tip. i notice esp. sogginess if we use sliced bell peppers (and boviously, fresh tomatoes) due to the water content.....

                    (i once thought of starting a club.....

                    the sign said, "procrastinators welcome ! (but not right now...)"
                    ;-)

                    1. re: alkapal
                      p
                      Procrastibaker Jan 14, 2008 04:54 PM

                      Hah! I am a PhD student so procrastibaking allows me to prolong the torture of my dissertation...

                      Agreed on the soggy middles. So annoying esp. when the edge gets over-done.

                      1. re: alkapal
                        k
                        Kelli2006 Jan 14, 2008 06:35 PM

                        I have been blind baking the crust to set the crust and increase the crunch of the dough.

                        I put a layer of cheese above the sauce and then keep my fresh veggies on top, so the moisture can evaporate from them as they bake.

                        My avatar is a pizza I baked about 3 weeks ago.

                        1. re: Kelli2006
                          chowser Jan 15, 2008 03:25 AM

                          That pizza looks great. It's funny that I blind bake (blind grill?) pizza on the grill but not in the stove--it didn't occur to me to try. I do it for focaccia pizza. I can't wait to give it a try.

                          Does anyone use fresh mozzerella for their pizza? I have moisture problems.

                          1. re: chowser
                            JoanN Jan 15, 2008 04:06 AM

                            That's why many authorities recommend using a low-moisture mozzarella. You can ususally find this without difficulty in both reduced fat and full fat versions. I'm particularly fond of the Grande brand low moisture, whole milk. But I need to mail order it.

                            http://www.pennmac.com/items/3217

                            1. re: chowser
                              firecooked Jan 15, 2008 06:46 AM

                              So do I! the last pizza I did was with fresh buffolo mozzerella, and their was liquid running off the pizza, off the stone... I pushed up the edge of the crust and kept cooking and it tasted fine, but wondering if there is a way to drain it better (maybe break into chunks and leave in a sieve for a while?) or if I should just use less (I used one ball on the pizza... maybe a little smaller than a baseball). Any other suggestions or help?

                              1. re: firecooked
                                chowser Jan 15, 2008 09:08 AM

                                I used fresh buffalo mozzerella, too. I tried cutting it and draining between paper towels and it still puddled. Maybe I'll have to stick with low moisture, as JoanN, suggested but you can't beat the taste of fresh, even if I have to blot after.

                                1. re: firecooked
                                  Cheese Boy Jan 15, 2008 10:02 AM

                                  FC, you've given me an idea. 'Low-moisture' implies (to me at least) that moisture has been removed from the cheese somehow someway. Everyone knows you need plenty of whey and hot water to make cheese...but how much of it *remains* with the cheese is the problem here. I'm going to try and weigh down the soft mozzarella cheese(s) with a weight and see what happens. The more milk, water, and/or whey that comes gushing out, the better to top pizza with. Seems logical, right? This experiment could probably done in the fridge as an overnite process [likely with success].

                                2. re: chowser
                                  k
                                  Kelli2006 Jan 15, 2008 10:48 AM

                                  I use fresh mozzarella when I make a Pizza Margherita, but I don't go to that trouble when I make deep dish or American-style garbage pizza. I usually either buy a chunk of locally made mozzarella or (horror of horrors) the the higher quality pre-shredded stuff. I like to use Crimmni mushrooms, as they are drier and and more flavor, but the price makes that prohibitive when I use 1-2 lbs on a large pizza.

                                  I steam my Ital sausage and then sauté the chopped pieces, as I can take out the fat w/o sacrificing flavor or texture.

                                  I put the pepperoni between 6 sheets of book-folded paper towels and zonk it on the microwave for 1 minute on low to render the fat out. You will be amazed at the amount of fat that is removed.

                                  I try to make my own pizza sauce, but they better quality jarred sauce(no HFCS) also work.

                                  I usually use 4 different kinds of cheese(mozzarella, provolone, feta and Parm/or sheeps milk Romano) as I like the depth of flavor that they bring. Mozzarella goes on just above the sauce and then feta, plus the Parm/Romano, the meats and and veggies, plus mushrooms go on next, and it is baked for 10 minutes. I then put on another thin layer of mozzarella, as well as a layer of thinly sliced provolone and brown that for color. If there is any moisture remaining after the intermediate baking, you can blot that with a folded paper towel, as that will waterlog the crust if allowed to remain.

                                  I developed this technique for a lower fat, crispy pizza that has no grease when I worked at a family-owned Italian restaurant.

                                  1. re: Kelli2006
                                    chowser Jan 15, 2008 11:00 AM

                                    Thanks--that sounds good. Crimini mushrooms would be great. I could just be cutting my mozzerella too thickly (getting greedy). How do you cut it thinly?

                                    For your own sauce, is it different from making a "standard" tomato/spaghetti sauce?

                                    1. re: chowser
                                      MMRuth Jan 15, 2008 11:03 AM

                                      I sometimes put mozzarella in the freezer for just a little bit to make it easier to slice - a serrated knife helps too.

                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                        chowser Jan 15, 2008 11:26 AM

                                        I'll give that a try--thanks!

                                      2. re: chowser
                                        k
                                        Kelli2006 Jan 15, 2008 11:43 AM

                                        I usually chill it in a freezer and shred it on a box grater. You can cut it with a knife, but its a exercise in frustration, as it sticks.

                                        I make my own sauce from a can of 15oz. seeded and peeled tomatoes, plus a 8oz can of tomato sauce. I add oregano chopped garlic, fennel seed, rosemary and basil, plus a pinch of red pepper flakes. Puree this mixture in a food processor or with a stick blender, and cook in a sauce pan for 30 minutes to blend the flavors.
                                        This makes enough for 3+ large pizzas, and it will hold for 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

                                        I will use my standard red sauce on a pizza if I have a small amount.

                                        1. re: Kelli2006
                                          p
                                          Procrastibaker Jan 17, 2008 05:36 AM

                                          So... a few words on moisture. First, I use a very reduced sauce that has little liquid left in it, which helps. Also, my in-laws got us a Sam's Club membership for Christmas. I am not really a Sam's shopper, but was totally sucked in by the massive deals on cheese: two footballs (1 lb. each) of "fresh" mozz (not the best quality, but totally fine for my pizza purposes esp. since they were pretty low moisture) for about 10 bucks. I think it was Belogioso (sp?) brand, but not the type in whey which I prefer for most other things. This type worked really well for the pizza.

                        2. grampart Jan 15, 2008 04:34 AM

                          I got to where I could use a peel pretty well, but I got very tired of the mess corn meal caused in the oven and didn't care for the "grittiness" caused by corn meal sticking to the bottom of the pie. Also, one has to be fairly adept in order to drop a 14" pizza directly on a 14" stone. The latter probelm was solved by buying a large rectangular stone (in my case a Fibrament stone). I did away with the use of corn meal altogether by purchasing a "Super-Peel" and have been VERY pleased with the results. Check it out at http://www.superpeel.com/index.html and be sure to watch the video. It does cost a little more (as does the Fibrament stone but, in the end, worth it.

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