If you’ve ever had the misfortune of cooking an ugly, lumpy, lopsided, or half-cooked pizza, then it’s probably because you forgot to turn your pizza in the oven. This is a common beginners’ mistake and one that I’ve made more than my fair share of times, either due to carelessness or forgetfulness.
If you’re using a wood-fired pizza oven or a traditional brick oven, then you should definitely be using a turning peel. These traditional types of ovens require you to turn the pizza 180-degrees halfway through the cooking process, and a turning peel is the best way to make that happen.
Although you may not have to do this if you’re used to cooking pizza in a conventional oven, you’ll definitely need to turn your pizza if you’re using a traditional wood-fired pizza oven. Recently, I’ve been using the simple yet effective turning pizza peel from Gi Metal. I’ve had mine for over six months, and in that short period of time, it has become one of the most useful pizza-making and brick oven accessories that I’ve ever had. Below, you’ll find my thoughts on it and who should own one.
I Never Thought I’d Need A “Turning Peel”
I grew up around pizza. My whole family knew how to cook it and it was as normal for our family to bake a homemade pizza as it was for most of my friends’ families to microwave chicken nuggets. I remember my uncle would always tell me how important it was to turn the pizza as it was cooking if I wanted it to turn out the right way.
Recently, during the pandemic, I took up the family art and started making my own homemade pizzas. One of the first things that I did was purchase a fancy portable Ooni pizza oven and a standard square-shaped pizza peel for getting my pizza in and out of the oven.
I remembered how much my uncle would stress turning the pizza, so I would always use my square peel in one hand while using a long poker in the other to turn the pizza and ensure that it was evenly cooked. I had seen the special circular turning peels before, but I figured they weren’t all that different from the one I already had. Boy, was I wrong there.
The Key Difference Between This Peel And Square-Shaped Peels
Turning peels like this one are far different from square-shaped pizza peels like the Epicurean I reviewed recently. The main difference is that square-shaped peels are designed to “launch” a pizza into the oven and can also serve as an impromptu cutting board. Circular peels, on the other hand, are a lot smaller and designed to help you rotate the pizza from the circular pivot point. With this method, you won’t have to use two separate tools like I was doing!
You Should Own Both Peels
That being said, I still think that pizza chefs should own both a square peel and a turning peel. The turning peel is great for one thing- turning. However, it’s not so great for launching the raw pizza or retrieving the fully-cooked pizza from the oven. In these two areas, a square peel is still more beneficial.
Is The Gi Metal Pizza Peel Big Enough For Most Ovens?
The Gi Metal turning pizza peel is 55-inches long from the end of the handle to the tip of the spatula. The spatula peel itself is around 8-inches wide. This means that it’s big enough for almost any gas, coal, or wood-fired pizza oven that you may have.
It’s long enough to be able to handle the pizza from a distance without having to get too close to the hot oven and risk burning your eyebrows off. However, the skinny handle and small 8-inch spatula are small enough to allow you to easily perform the twisting and turning motions necessary when you’re trying to spin a melting hot pizza.
Do You Need A Turning Pizza Peel With A Regular Household Oven?
Conventional household ovens are designed to cook things evenly, which means that you probably don’t need a turning pizza peel if you’re just cooking pizzas in your home oven. However, if you have a more traditional brick pizza oven or one of the modern portable pizza ovens, then you’ll find a pizza peel to be a huge help. This is because the fire burns from the back of the oven, meaning that it’s the hottest spot and that half of the pizza will cook faster.
At maximum temperature, many of today’s modern pizza ovens can cook a full pizza in less than two minutes, which means that you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to using your turning peel.