It may be very easy to order a pizza or stop by any one of the hundreds of pizza restaurants in most major cities, but, if you have a little more time, nothing compares to the satisfaction and enjoyment of making your own pizza. Of course, making a restaurant-quality pizza requires some basic equipment. Before you hurry off to an expensive kitchen supply store, however, consider making the equipment yourself. A homemade pizza peel, or paddle, for instance, is quite easy to make and involves very inexpensive materials.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Square or ruler
- 60-grit sandpaper
- Wood glue
- 2' x 2' plywood (1/4'' thick)
- 1'' x 2'' wooden stick (about 2' long)
Determine the size of your pizza peel. You will want a peel that fits easily into your oven and allows for some movement, so aim for something about 3 inches smaller on both sides than the width of your oven. The length can be longer than your oven, as the door will be open while you use the peel.
Mark off the dimensions of your pizza peel on the board of plywood and saw off the extra pieces.
Sand the edges of the plywood until they all have a smooth finish. The side that faces the back of your oven should be particularly smooth and even-bevelled to allow it to slip easily underneath the pizza. Fortunately, plywood is very soft and should allow you to easily sand and shape the piece by hand.
Begin by rubbing a piece of sandpaper along the edges of the entire piece. Continue to sand the edges until you can smoothly run your finger along them and feel only minimal friction. On the end of the piece that will face the inside of the oven (that is, the opposite side from the handle), bevel the edge by manually sanding down the corner until you have created a small incline and your peel ends in a smooth, rounded edge rather than a corner.
Measure your board to find the centre of the piece, both lengthwise and width-wise. Mark the two centres and join them to determine the exact centre of the board. The end of your handle will be placed at this centre.
Glue your handle to the piece of plywood. Apply a small amount of glue to one end of the wood stick and press it into contact with the piece of plywood, running from the centre you just marked to the end of the piece. Naturally, the handle should go on the side opposite the bevelled end, and you should glue your handle on the underside of the peel so that you can angle the bevelled end and scoop up your dough.
Some peels have a handle closer to the end to extend the reach of the paddle, but placing it in the middle will give you more support underneath the board and allow you to use your peel for heavier baking projects such as stuffed pizzas and heavy breads.
Screw the two wood screws through the plywood into the handle. Make sure the screws are well tightened and flush with the surface of your peel to avoid friction and catching between your peel and the dough.
Once again, reinforcing the handle with screws will allow you to take on heavy baking projects that demand a sturdy peel.
Tips and warnings
- The benefit of using wood is that flour will accumulate in the grain and keep your pizza sliding easily off your peel. Remember to put flour on your dough and your peel before use.
- Remember that your peel will be exposed to friction and elevated temperatures. Be sure that you use chemical products like glue sparingly and refrain from treating or staining your peel with chemical products.
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