Published March 1, 2005.
We tested five peels, both metal and wood, hoping to decide once and for all which material makes a better peel.
We tested several peels, both metal and wood, hoping to decide once and for all which material makes a better peel. We found it easy to define the dimensions of our ideal peel: A 14- to 16-inch peel will accommodate free-form bread loaves and is spacious enough for any pizza. Ideal handle length? A minimum of 8 inches is necessary to keep your hands a safe distance from the hot baking stone.
But trying to decide between metal and wood was not so easy. Both materials have their disadvantages. A wooden peel is tricky to store; if stored lying flat it will not dry evenly and may warp. The thickness of a wooden peel can make it difficult to slide neatly under an item ready to come out of the oven, and wood is harder to clean than metal. However, dough is more likely to stick to a metal peel. What to buy? If you're a traditionalist with space to hang the peel during storage, wood would be your favorite; metal, on the other hand, is practical and easy to store. Both types are easy to find for about $20.
But if you're willing to spend a little more, we recommend the Super Peel, which is simply a regular wooden peel outfitted with a pastry cloth that's threaded through the board like a conveyor belt. When well floured, the cloth proved to be essentially nonstick. It practically guarantees a perfectly round pizza and has a gentle touch with bread loaves.