The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Catastrophic Pizza depeeling - could use some suggestions to avoid fire next time

kidziti's picture

Catastrophic Pizza depeeling - could use some suggestions to avoid fire next time

After making a pizza dough and putting all the toppings on it, I could not get it off the peel, despite using lots of corn meal. I tried to do the "wrist flick" thing to get it off the peel onto the stone, but it wouldn't budge. I tried once again and all the toppings went onto the 500 degree stone, and then ignited into smoke. I think my stone is ruined - it's almost black now, and the house filled with smoke despite using a 600 cfm fan. It was an absolute disaster as far as the pizza was concerned, and I fear not a safe situation for me and my guests. The last time I tried to make a pizza, I used a premade crust, which had similar consistency to the one I made tonight. I also had a similar problem, but was able to turn it into a sort of "pizza stew" which tasted just like pizza, but without the crispy crust (we used spoons to eat it). I REALLY would like to make a normal pizza, without ending up with some strange soup or the fire department knocking on the door. I think the whole problem is with removing the made pizza from the peel (a metal one supplied with our Wolf oven). Maybe I should just make it on the stone, then transfer the stone into the oven??? If not, then how do I get it onto the peel, and off the peel into the oven?

Floydm's picture

Oh man, I did that at least a half dozen times before I discovered parchment paper. I explicitly mention parchment in my pizza primer because I had so many problems with pizzas sticking to the peel. Particularly heavily topped ones, the ones that take you 15 minutes to prepare and then about 3 seconds to destroy.

Seriously, a 5 dollar investment in parchment paper will save you months of anguish.

precipice's picture

I still have pictures of my nephews' funny faces when I served them what I called 'car crash pizza' after just this kind of peel disaster. I feel your pain!

I agree with Floyd that parchment paper is the easiest way to avoid pizza mishaps. This was the "training wheels" method I used at first. Be sure to pull the paper out after a couple of minutes -- it gets more and more charred the longer it stays in, and I've had a couple of pieces fall apart in the oven, which makes the pizza a lot harder to serve.

You definitely don't want to make the pizza on the stone and then put the stone in the oven. The value of the stone is its heat retention, so preheating it for an hour or two is necessary for it to be worthwhile.

What I do now is this. I have a big wooden peel that I sprinkle very heavily with semolina flour. I stretch the pizza dough, put it on the peel, and shake the peel a bit to make sure the dough will slide easily. After I add the sauce, I shake the peel again. I shake once more after adding the toppings and cheese. Then, just before opening the oven, I wipe off all the excess semolina around the pizza, so it doesn't wind up in the oven. Semolina is *much* less gritty than corn meal, and I think it makes the pizza crust have a much better texture for eating. Once the pizza is cooked, I have a large metal peel I use to pull the pizza out. The metal peel is much easier to get under the crust since it is so much thinner. This also allows you to load up a second pizza on the wooden peel and still have the metal peel empty for pulling from the oven.

Wood in, metal out, semolina not corn meal, parchment paper (without semolina) for training wheels. That's my advice.

kidziti's picture

"Wood in, metal out, semolina not corn meal, parchment paper (without semolina) for training wheels. That's my advice."

That is an awesome way to sum up what I hope truns out to be terrific advise. Thanks - to everyone! Maybe I'll try it again. I haven't read all the post responses yet, but I'm off to the grocery store where I hope to find parchment paper. Or should I be looking elsewhere?

jef_lepine's picture

precipice had some good notes; to sum it up:

- semonila/cornmeal the peel
- stretch the dough, then place it on the peel
- shake the peel to make sure the dough moves
- top pizza
- shake the peel to make sure the dough moves

When I put the pizza on the stone, the peel will touch the stone and then I PULL real quick. The pizza will drop straight down onto the stone.

As for the stone being ruined, don't count on it. Take it out, wash it , and it will be as good as new. Just think of this as breaking it in :)

All else fails, parchment works, but I'm not a fan.

kidziti's picture

Thanks - and as far as the stone, I washed it (just plain water, no soap), but the stains remain (formerly a light tan stone). I guess that's normal, right? I figure it emulates the stone floor of a brick oven, and I know they don't replace the ovens when they get black. I've heard somewhere that you can run the stone through a self-cleaning cycle, but in the Wolf oven, the stone sits on a grate that Wolf says cannot be run through the cycle.


jmcbride's picture

When getting the pizza off of my peel I ALWAYS shake the peel gently just before I go to the oven. If it doesn't slide freely I use a thin metal flipper to gently get under the dough. I do this in stages, just get the flipper under there and pull it out, do this around the circumference of the pizza and do the shake test again.

Parchment is also very useful especially if you are doing more than one pizza and only have one peel.


gshonting's picture

Have you tried Pizza Screens?-

Go to your local restaurant supply or find them online here-
Amazon Pizza Screens

pigrew's picture

First, I like to make sure that the pizza slides around on the peel before I attempt to slide it off the peel in the oven. Another thing to try is practicing with smaller pizzas before trying a larger one.

As for the black, That's fine. It shouldn't hurt at all. I hope that the smell goes away soon.

christianb's picture

When I make pizza I just put it on a baking plate (with parchment on) and place the plate on the hot stone, it seems to work just fine.

pizzameister's picture


I would like to send you one of our Super Peels for the Holidays. A gift from us to you, so that you NEVER, EVER have this problem again.


kidziti's picture

a gift? gee, thanks, pizzameister!


pizzameister's picture

Hey, it is the Holidays after all. Sometimes I am simply moved by a vivid description of horrific events! Simply because I was there once and we are trying do something good about it.

And, well, Holiday sales have been pretty good this year. So, if you are interested, you can contact me through my website.

Strings? None! Just the season!


quickquiche's picture

I am curious about the superpeel. It appears to nicely facilitate getting the pizza into the oven but can you also use it to get the pizza out? Or do you need a conventional peel for that?

quickquiche's picture

I learned long ago that I only like the metal peel. I never use a wooden peel. Wooden peels might be ok to use to get the pizza onto the stone, but almost impossible to remove the pizza. And I think its silly to have two peels when one will do the job of getting the pizza on and off the stone.

Initially I was using parchment paper under the crust. It worked fine but I got tired of cleaning burned parchment paper off the floor of the oven.

So I found this wonderful "perforated pan" at Bed, Bath & Beyond. See the link.  

It does indicate this pan is non-stick, but I found that to not be very true. So I do spray it with some Pam before putting the dough on it.

I put the pizza dough on that pan, put the sauce on and then my toppings and then put the whole thing (pan and pizza) onto the stone.

I do cook this on a pre-heated stone for about 10-12 minutes. It comes out very nicely every time. 

I only ever use a pre-heated stone. I'm not sure what results you'd have if you put the pizza on a cold stone and put it all in the oven. As far as I know, the stone should always be pre-heated...

I pre-heat my oven/stone to 500 for about 45 minutes. By the time I'm ready to put the pizza in, about an hour has passed and the oven and stone are at a good temperature.

On another note, I thought one time my stone was ruined too. But I found that by cleaning it with VERY hot water, the burned food came off very nicely.

Good luck...

quickquiche's picture

I'm wondering when this happened, the pizza may have been too heavy or...       If you took too much time putting the toppings on, the dough got too soggy. and stuck to the peel.