How do you salvage a topped pizza that sticks to the peel?

by Steve H.   Last Updated July 18, 2015 13:07 PM

This is a scenario I've encountered multiple times. The dough is stretched to the right size. It's coated with flour. The pizza peel has some flour in it, but maybe not enough.

The pizza gets sauced and topped, and when it comes time to put it into the oven, it's sticking to the peel. Sometimes in the process, a hole gets opened up and sauce leaks through.

There is a lot information on how to prevent this from happening, but very little has been written on how to recover when it happens. Is there anyway to salvage this? Turning it to a calzone is an acceptable option, but sauce on the peel seems to exacerbate stickiness.

EDIT: Corrected a minor grammar error.

Tags : dough pizza


Answers 4


I always give a light "shake test" before I try to put it in the oven. If it's sticking, I take a long spatula and try to lift the dough a short ways from the offending section, and then I toss some more cornmeal or flour under there. Usually, just to be safe, I go all the way around and lift and toss more, just to be sure.

franko
franko
July 17, 2015 19:13 PM

When the damage is done and the dough torn, there is little you can do. Either opt for calzone or make a "pizza donut" by gently opening up the tear or hole and folding the rim of the tear towards the outer edge, somewhat over the filling. The goal is to keep the sauce etc. from leaking onto the peel and especially into the oven during baking, leading to a nasty burned mess either on the bottom of the oven or on your stone. Not pretty, but better that nothing.

Transfering the torn pizza onto parchment is probably a good idea, especially if you suspect more "stability issues", at least unless you have a really, really hot oven where the use of parchment may be not advisable.

Do clean and dry your peel because otherwise the next pizze would probably stick as well and just to be sure rub a bit of flour on it before proceeding (to absorb any moisture, like you use baby powder on your skin).

And follow proper precautions (flouring well, giving a little shake test, re-flouring if necessary) next time.

Stephie
Stephie
July 18, 2015 17:30 PM

This has happened to many of us. Your oven is hot. You have a beautifully crafted pizza ready to cook. You are minutes away from food time. You give your peel one last shake, but only part of the pizza moves.

If you can't get it unstuck with shaking alone (and this typically isn't enough if you have a leak), you will need to try to carefully lift the stuck spot. Using two spatulas, and even a third hand, if available, can help out greatly. I recommend easing a large plastic or metal spatula to start with. While it may have limited reach, a larger spatula will allow you to lift the pizza without stretching it too much or disrupting your toppings. Then, using a second, smaller, rubber or silicone spatula, shove some flour or corneal under the first spatula. If you see a sauce leak, I recommend using flour. Think about it this way: if you spilled oil on your driveway, you would probably try to soak it up with kitty litter rather than tennis balls. If the stuck spot is large enough, you will need to repeat this process from another direction. As you work to unstick the pizza, keep shaking, and work the pizza towards the edge of the peel. If you get the pizza unstuck, try to keep shaking it until you are sliding it into the oven. If you can't get it to stay unstuck and all else fails, get your large spatula(s) under the sticky spots, place the leading edge of the pizza on the baking surface in the oven, and shimmy/shove the pizza off of the peel. Only try this if the oven temperature is low enough that you can do this safely. If you are using your standard home oven, you should be fine, especially if you use something to protect your hands. It also helps to have another person to open the oven and help you out with another spatula if needed. You might end up with a pizza that is shaped like Texas or a donut, but it probably won't be a total loss, and you will probably get better with time.

While I am at it, I will share some prevention tips, specific to your situation, that I have learned, but haven't found elsewhere. You can find a few more here, but it sounds like you're already familiar with those tips:

  • If you see a weak spot in your dough once you've stretched it out, you can preempt it with extra flour underneath it before you start adding toppings.
  • If feasible, you can also try using little or no sauce on that spot.
  • If you are making pizza, there is a good chance that you have another human around, waiting to consume it. Conscript that person to either help with toppings, or to shake the peel at regular intervals. This can help you get to the oven faster, giving your pizza less time to stick. If you use that person as a shaker, you will know as soon as your pizza starts sticking. Try to handle any adhesion as soon as it happens, when there aren't as many toppings to disrupt.
JTL
JTL
July 18, 2015 17:40 PM

Stuck Dough

Follow the below process and stop when you have found success:

  • Shake the peel back and forth
  • Gently lift the nearest edge and blow under the dough to give it lift
  • More shaking
  • Toss your favorite non-stick agent under the area such as semolina/flour/cornmeal
  • More shaking
  • Gently blow again and wedge a spatula under the area
  • Add even more non-stick agent
  • More shaking
  • Grab your second peel and "over" prepare it with non-stick agent
  • Launch to pizza from peel 1 to peel 2

Hole with oozing sauce

Follow the below process and stop when you have found success:

  • Repair the hole by folding a small portion of the dough over itself and pressing lightly
  • Repeat steps shown above for stuck dough

General Advice

I would highly recommend against either the risky proposition of launching a pizza that you are quite sure will stick, or getting multiple hands close to a very hot oven. I can tell you from experience that dropping a large chunk of mozzarella in a 550°F oven or on the broil setting is a really bad thing. After one such mistake I considered repainting the first floor of my home as the smoke that was left behind was so strong. Instead, follow proper non stick techniques, don't over top, learn good launching technique, and prepare an extra dough ball or two as backups.

Further reading:

dpollitt
dpollitt
August 25, 2015 00:43 AM

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