The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Homemade Peel

hydestone's picture

Homemade Peel

Currently, when I want to load a loaf of bread in the oven I do the following:

  • Pull out the stone

  • Pour on white corn meal

  • Flip out the loaf out of the basket onto the stone

  • Slice it and put it back in the oven

That typically results in flour all over the stove and too much corn meal on the stone which burns and probably changes the flavor of the crust.

I want to make a peel for loading my bread directly onto the stone while it is in the oven.  How thin are peels?  What does the profile of the lip look like, ie rounded, tapered to a point, or a chisel like tip?  How long are the handles?

alabubba's picture

I don't think there is a single answer for your question. Here for example is what is on amazon. So many styles, sizes, and materials. A lot of it will come down to personal preference.

I for example prefer a slightly longish handle. Something I can get two hands on. and an almost flat nose with a long taper to the point.

I think the super peel is pretty cool as well.

AnnieT's picture

Hydestone, I use a sturdy piece of cardboard as a peel. I sprinkle a little cornmeal on the surface of the dough in the banneton, place a small piece of parchment over the dough and place the cardboard over that. Then flip the whole works over, peel off the linen liner and slide the loaf onto the preheated baking stone. No fuss, no muss. Much cheaper than a peel and easy to store, to say nothing of easy to replace. Hope this helps, A.

budagl's picture

Most of my bread does its final rise on parchment paper.  Then I just use an aluminum cookie sheet as my peel for getting the bread on and off the stone.

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Same here.

Sliss4's picture

I'm new to baking bread that isn't done in a loaf pan so I'm so glad to have found this site.  Do you leave the parchment paper on the baking stone while the bread bakes even when the oven is set to 450 degrees? 

Chuck's picture

Do you leave the parchment paper on the baking stone while the bread bakes even when the oven is set to 450 degrees?

Yes. Go for it. The fact that parchment paper can go in the oven is what makes so many things about bread baking so much easier than they used to be. Proof the loaf right on the same piece of parchment paper that you slide onto your peel then into your oven. No need to ever move your loaf, and no issues with it "sticking".

The "official" rating of the silicone coating is something like 469F (the box probably says 450F, whci includes a little margin for error). But my experience is you can quite safely use parchment paper at even higher temperatures.

It won't ignite and burn easily like wax paper will; the consideration instead is that it might melt and adsorb into the bread. But that's just a theoretical issue - it won't really happen in a home oven. The temperature of the parchment paper is considerably moderated by what it's next to, which is usually bread dough. (Also, it's generally sheilded from direct radiant heat by your baking stone.) The reality is it probably won't ever get beyond 300f (or maybe 350F at most).

The bits of parchment paper that extend beyond the edge of the loaf and curl a little so they don't touch your baking stone either are the central issue. If you're really concerned about it and use very high temperatures, use scissors before putting the bread in the oven to trim the parchment paper to a rounded shape with only 1-1.5 inches extending beyond the loaf. (If parchment paper is used at a very high temperature, it will turn brownish and get crinkly and you may not be able to reuse it.)

I once forgot to trim a big piece of parchment paper and did a really poor job of sliding my loaf onto the center of my baking stone, with the result that a big chunk of parchment paper hung over the edge of my baking stone directly into the radiant heat from the oven heating element. It turned quite black and really scared me, but in the end it never caught fire, it released from the bread normally when baking was done, and it didn't impart any funny flavor to any part of the bread.

Sliss4's picture

Yes. Go for it"

Thank you so much.  I will do just that with little or no fear of negative consequences. I really appreciate all the help that's available on this site.

Chuck's picture

I know this is not the question you asked, but...

I started out trying to spend as little money as possible. I couldn't figure out how to "make" just one peel that would work in all situations (turning bread out, baking as proofed w/o turning, into oven, out of oven, proof right on peel, with parchment paper, without parchment paper, etc.). I wound up with a metal peel (aluminum, about 12"x14" usable surface plus the "neck" where the handle attaches) with a short handle (about 12"). It was less than $20 including shipping. I initially wasn't very happy with this cheapo compromise (not wood? no long handle? what about authenticity? what about using it in a real commercial pizza oven?).

I initially drooled over the idea of one of those "super-peels" with the rotating cloth unloading gizmo. Although the peel I bought worked well enough right away, after a couple months I got reasonably good at the "flick of the wrist". Having gotten better at using the peel, I wouldn't bother with a "super-peel" any more.

Despite my initial reservations, over time I've come to love the one I've got.; in fact I've found it exactly suits my needs. The metal surface is thinner (for easier scooping under bread in the oven), easier to keep clean (once in a while mild dishwater, mostly nothing at all), and doesn't require any sort of "seasoning". And all a long handle would do is run into things and create many more ways to throw a loaf on the floor.

(I've got a pair of extra-long Kevlar-lined oven mitts. One hand grabs the peel while the other hand manipulates the oven door.)

For me, "homemade" wasn't worth the small savings, and the "el cheapo" model turned out to be exactly what I needed.

yozzause's picture

Hi Hydestone,

Peel handles were usually long enough and made of wood to reach the back of the oven so  therefore if the oven was 20 ft deep the handle was by necessity that long too, the heads could vary dependant on the type of product that was being baked. loading a 40 tray peel oven ASAP (what goes in first is last out) was always quite fun and it never ceased to amaze me the number of staff that tried to get past you when you were busy trying to load the oven. I even took to putting a score card on the side of the oven like fighter pilots with their confirmed kills on the side of their aircraft. The bread carters were the worst when they started to arrive and were usually half asleeep. (not for long)

The man working the oven had right of way and needed to know if someone wanted to dash by. the peel handle can get mighty hot holding it in the oven even for a few seconds longer than necessary. Corked thighs with bruising that lasted a month were usually top scores bread baskets i guess thats where the tummy got the name  were another high score although the carters did use their big wicker baskets to deflect a fast retrieved peel handle especially those that had coped a handle before. it was amazing though that the same slow learners seemed to get the wake up call when playing oven roulette. And of course there was the occasional bullseye the ultimate eye waterer. i was discreet and put those silhouttes on the otherside of the oven not easily seen, as we had both female and some squeeky voiced male carters. We never had the term pole dancing then but it would have been quite appropiate.

 The prefered practice was to acknowledge they were there and waiting to go by, call them past as you were going in to the oven!

Nowadays you would have to have an exclusion barrier in place  flashing lights and the floor painted in yellow stripes!

Anyway for the home environment no handle is required and a simplel head to suit the dough piece can easily be fashioned from a piece of plywood, off cuts can be found either cheaply or for free, the backs of old furniture pieces being thrown away are usually a nice light 3 ply or that brown composite material that are easy cut and shape.  

regards Yozza

SylviaH's picture

I did not read all the posts, so maybe this has been suggested.  Just use the back of a cookie sheet, placing the bread onto parchment paper first.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

for me too. I place my parchment paper on top of the banneton, using my right hand to keep it in place. Then I lift and turn the banneton while supporting the dough. I just lower the dough down to the sheet pan, lift the banneton off, slash, and then load the dough onto my baking stone. I pull the parchment paper out after 10-12 minutes with no problem.

davidg618's picture

...or to narrow for most of my baking.

So I made my own from 1/8" birch plywood. It's 20 inches long, and 11 inches wide--no handle, now taper; just a rectangular piece of lightweight plywood. I sprinkle it with a dusting of brown rice flour before I transfer loaves to it.

I bake two sourdough loaves--most frequently 750g batards or boules--side-by-side. I load them into the oven serially, less than a minute apart. I also bake three baguettes--20" long: the width of my baking stone--and load them serially also.

My Super Peel, 14" wide, is too wide to load batards or boules one at a time. When I originally tried, frequently I damaged the previously loaded loaf with the edge of the peel. Same thing happened with my aluminum pizza peel. I tried to be careful, but the clearance is small. My oven is only 22" wide.

On the other hand, both peels are too narrow to load 20" baguettes.

My homemade board has solved both these problems, and, being made from a scrap piece of plywood, the price was right.

David G.