A Baker’s Peel, aka Pizza Peel, is a tool used to lift large baked goods such as breads and pizzas in and out of the oven, sliding them in the oven onto baking sheets or stones.
Basically, it is a spatula on steroids, big enough to look like a small shovel. It consists of a flat surface called a blade attached to a handle. Home use ones have short handles; industrial ones have very long handles.
The blade may be rectangular or more round, and can be metal or wood. The metal ones are uniformly thin; the wood ones taper to a thin edge,
It takes a while to get used to how to use a peel.
Before you put anything on it, you need to cover it with parchment paper, or dust it with flour or cornmeal (note: cornmeal — not corn starch aka cornflour in the UK), so that when you go to slide off your prepared item to be baked, it actually will slide off. Whole wheat flour is better than white flour to dust it with, as it is coarser. Corn meal or other grains will stay behind on baking stones and burn, if you are of the camp that leaves the baking stones always in the oven.
When you go to slide your dough off into the oven, put the peel at the far edge of the cooking surface, start sliding it off there, then give the peel a short, sharp shove, then pull the peel towards you quickly.
You can let bread rise on parchment paper, lift the parchment paper onto the peel, and then use the peel to shift it into place in the oven. If you use parchment paper, don’t start tilting the peel until you are really ready to transfer the bread to the baking surface.
You should prepare a pizza right on the peel.
For bread, let the dough rise on parchment paper, or on a plastic nonstick heat-proof plastic baking liner, then carefully lift onto desired baking surface into oven. This will probably not work with pizza, which requires more support.
Literature & Lore
A Baker’s Peel is the symbol of St Honoré.