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The Pizza Peel & The Tomato Pie Recipe

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Blog entry by thewoodwhisperer posted 07-12-2013 04:48 PM 1856 reads 9 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A pizza peel is a giant spatula intended to deliver a raw pizza to the oven as well as pull the cooked pizza out. Professional versions feature long handles that allow the cook to reach the very back of the oven. A version for the average home can be much more compact.

The pizza peel I designed can be made from any wood you like and certainly doesn’t need to be made from expensive woods like bubinga and figured maple. And before you give me crap about it, these were scraps from previous projects that would have sat in the lumber pile for years if I didn’t incorporate them into something useful.

History
Ever since I left New Jersey, I have been on a quest to find good pizza. In Trenton, we had numerous typical pizza parlors but there were also a bunch of places that specialized in what is known as tomato pie. While there are many variants in the Northeast, the key to a good tomato pie is the focus on the sauce, not the cheese. The Trenton version features an incredibly thin crust and the taste is very clean, not too oily, and absolutely NOTHING like the crap Pizza Hut passes off as “pizza.” Sorry Pizza Hut, your pizza-cake is gross.

The Project
All stock should be milled to 1/2” thick.
Middle Piece: 2 1/2” Wide x 26” Long
Inner Pieces: 3 1/4” wide x 17 1/2” Long
Outer Pieces: 3 1/2” Wide x 17 1/2” Long
Handle Piece: 2 1/2” Wide x 10” Long

Keep in mind that the measurements above were primarily driven by the stock I had on hand and the dimensions of my pizza stone. If you are making your peel from on species of wood, you certainly don’t need to use as many pieces to create the primarily platform of the peel.

There are a lot of ways you can tackle a simple project like this. But when it comes to small kitchen items, it’s always best to prepare for making multiples. So instead of gluing the boards together and cutting them to shape directly, I recommend making a template. This way you can make multiples now or in the future. As long as you have a flush trim bit for your router, you’re good to go.

The Tomato Pie Recipe
Disclaimer: We are not professional chefs and I’m sure there are many ways to improve this recipe and our methods. The goal here was only to have some fun and show you how we made some delicious pizza in the Spagnuolo house.

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out http://www.TheWoodWhisperer.com



15 comments so far

View Macster's profile

Macster

80 posts in 789 days


#1 posted 07-12-2013 05:28 PM

awesome! a good laugh at the end as well :).

-- "Still Learning"

View Randy_ATX's profile

Randy_ATX

676 posts in 1100 days


#2 posted 07-12-2013 05:47 PM

The peel has been on my to-do list – this might just be the incentive I need. Thanks!

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View thewoodwhisperer's profile

thewoodwhisperer

601 posts in 2842 days


#3 posted 07-12-2013 05:49 PM

It’s in the video. I was too lazy to write it out this morning. :)

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out http://www.TheWoodWhisperer.com

View amagineer's profile

amagineer

1385 posts in 1255 days


#4 posted 07-12-2013 05:49 PM

Thanks for the entertaining video. it was both inspirational and informative. I will have to try your tomato pie recipe.
don

-- Flaws are only in the eye of the artisan!

View Richforever's profile

Richforever

739 posts in 2378 days


#5 posted 07-12-2013 05:56 PM

Tasty! It’s on my list.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View gbear's profile

gbear

393 posts in 2758 days


#6 posted 07-12-2013 06:22 PM

Wow…that really was fun and interesting!!

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View steliart's profile

steliart

1807 posts in 1346 days


#7 posted 07-12-2013 08:28 PM

quite a few interesting tips while making that peel
thanks

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions - http://www.steliart.com --

View Roger's profile

Roger

14612 posts in 1462 days


#8 posted 07-13-2013 01:19 AM

Very interesting, Marc. The only bad thing is, this looks like a paddle I got 3 swats with back in grade school… When discipline was discipline. I learned from it too.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View Ken22F's profile

Ken22F

23 posts in 1922 days


#9 posted 07-13-2013 05:53 AM

Thank you for another recipe,

Pizza
And
Crunchy French toast (we always go back to the captain)

Can you think of something for lunch?

View majuvla's profile

majuvla

3425 posts in 1526 days


#10 posted 07-13-2013 08:17 PM

You both looks great and funny. Simple but excellent project.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View AJswoodshop's profile

AJswoodshop

1057 posts in 935 days


#11 posted 07-13-2013 09:24 PM

Great project! Definley on my upcoming projects list! Have a question though, if you were going to build this, does the wood grain need to be a tight grain wood like Purple Heart or Maple, I’ve heard bacteria can get inside open grain woods like oak or walnut.
Thanks!

-- If I can do it.....so can you! -AJswoodshop

View rednorthshore's profile

rednorthshore

8 posts in 429 days


#12 posted 07-21-2013 07:34 AM

thanks for the recipe. did someone win the festool track saw

-- red

View JohnnyStrawberry's profile

JohnnyStrawberry

245 posts in 977 days


#13 posted 07-23-2013 09:34 AM

Great video as always. :-) Thank you for sharing it.
May I have a few side notes.
When I learned Italian language in Reggio Calabria I was lucky to work in a pizzeria as a pizzaiolo (pizza guy). That is extremely-extremely exceptional that southern Italians allow a foreigner to make their pizza. (But the owner / usual pizzaiolo had no choice… he’d broken his hand. [Just for the record, I had nothing to do with that. :-D]) I had learned making pizza in another pizzeria. They make pretty much the same pizza (learned from the Mamma) in the south.
So they put (olive) oil in the dough as well. How much? Five to ten times more than the salt used. They make the dough AT LEAST 12 HOURS BEFORE putting it in the oven but usually 24 hours. (The first few hours in a warm place then in the fridge.) BTW oven, in an Italian pizzeria no pizza is put in an oven less than 300°C (that’s 572°F); we used 320°C (608°F). The pizza needs only 3 minutes in the oven… (At 250°C (482°F) you’re just drying your pizza for about 15 minutes…)
They use only flour of durum wheat not the usual all-purpose wheat flour. They actually use a 50-50 mix of two types of durum wheat flour; the fine flour and a not so fine flour. (Sorry, I don’t know the US flour standards…)
Having a closer look at the right oven temperature you can guess how many pizza guy use wooden peel. Yes, you’re close. Zero.
But not only for that but the thickness of a feasible wooden peel.
For a usable peel 1/16th is just thick. 1/32th is the preferable thickness. (That’s why real peels are steel and having ridges on the sides.) Why that thin? Because it’s pretty awkward to top the pizza on the peel all the time… so the peel has to be able to peel the raw pizza off the counter.
I realized your struggling with peeling the pizza off the stone.
So back to the wooden peel. Make it as thin as you can. 1/4” is feasible out of hardwood.
You can go under that by reinforcing the back with inlaid battens. Or better, align the grain diagonally. The neck has to be reinforced with a wide fan shaped block on the top.
Forget the bevel on the back of the front edge. You have to tilt more the peel to get the edge under the pizza and that works against you.
The handle seems pretty beefy even in your hand. It’d be nicer and more convenient with a slimmer handle.
I know you’re also a rather power tool guy so what do you think about making the bevel with a hand held belt sander? ;-)

-- What are those few hours of mine compared to those decades Mother Nature has put in it!

View Aaron Chapman's profile

Aaron Chapman

66 posts in 421 days


#14 posted 07-31-2013 10:53 PM

I think i’m going to build one soon.

-- Aaron bellefontaine,ohio http://www.etsy.com/people/ajayswoodworking?ref=si_pr

View HotrodMonkey's profile

HotrodMonkey

6 posts in 297 days


#15 posted 12-26-2013 04:48 AM

Hi Marc – Back in the day, I came to value sharpness of the end of the peel. You might want to mill it down a bit to get under the pie easier. Mine was damn near dangerous at the very tip. I also had to manage multiple pizzas, so a longer handle came in handy. Great project idea!

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