by Cat, Jan 2008 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
Includes: 1. How to use a Pizza Peel and Baking Stone; 2. Online sources
I’m learning how to make authentic European breads such as focaccia, ciabatta, and pizza dough. All of these require a very hot oven, preferably wood-fired, and instead of baking in a loaf pan, they are shaped free-form and baked on the hot stone (or a baking stone if using a gas or electric home oven). A pizza peel is handy to transfer the baked bread from oven to cooling spot.
If you don’t have a well-stocked kitchen store where you live, you can purchase these online.
How to Use a Pizza Peel and Baking Stone
- Place baking stone on a lower rack in your oven. Preheat to 5000 F, or as hot as it will go. it will take about 45 minutes for the stone to get hot.
- For pizza, shape the crust on the peel (or shape crust by tossing and pulling, then place on the peel), then add toppings.
- Test to ensure your pizza is not stuck on the peel by using short jerks to move the peel forward and backward — the pizza should easily slide around. If it sticks, lift it up on one side with your fingers and throw a little flour or cornmeal underneath. Slide peel back and forth to loosen the pizza.
- To transfer bread or pizza to hot stone, push peel toward the stone, then stop it just short of the back edge, allowing the bread/pizza to slide off the peel while pulling backward.
- After baking, slide the peel under the bread or pizza and remove. Transfer pizza to plate or platter; transfer bread to cooling surface.
Sources for Pizza and other Hot Oven Baking Equipment:
You will need some special equipment and ingredients for these old-world breads (recommendations are from Food & Wine magazine):
- Pizza peel: All wood versions, All-aluminum versions (I don’t recommend this) and synthetic versions at Williams & Sonoma (2) and Sur La Table (3).
- Baking stone: FibraMent Baking Stone available at baking stone.com (4). Also Williams & Sonoma (2) and Sur La Table (3) have several options.
- Food and Wine Magazine
- Williams & Sonoma (williams-sonoma.com) for pizza peels and baking stones (several options)
- Sur La Table (surlatable.com) for pizza peels and baking stones (several options)
- bakingstone.com has baking stones for home ovens, commercial ovens and grills