A question that we often get from people when they first start making pizza is about how to get their dough off of the peel and into their Ooni pizza oven. This is called ‘launching’, and if it sounds like something that you’ve found tricky, don’t worry – it’s a really easy skill to master.
The most important thing is to simply practice making pizza dough and cooking pizza – with a little effort, you’ll be cooking fantastic pizzas in no time! To help you hit the ground running, we’ve come up with some essential tips.
If you’re using a wooden peel, a perforated peel or you’re prepping on a separate surface, all of these tips will be useful to you.
1. Always use ‘00’ flour
At Ooni, we always use high quality 00 flour, and we recommend that you do, too. This is a finely ground Italian style of flour, which makes for pizza dough that’s easy to work with, stretches beautifully and has a great texture and flavour.
2. Follow Ooni’s Classic Pizza Dough recipe
Now that you have the right flour, you need a great recipe to match. With some recipes, you can end up with a dough that is too wet, which will cause the dough to stick to your peel. Our Classic Pizza Dough recipe is simple and delicious. Follow this recipe every time and you’ll be sure to make pizza that is the perfect consistency and texture. Check out our Classic Pizza Sauce while you’re at it.
3. Stretch at room temperature
After you’ve made your dough, it’s time to start stretching your pizza. Pizza dough is easiest to stretch at room temperature, so if you’ve cold-proved your dough then be sure to give it at least 4 hours out of the fridge to get back to room temperature. If your dough is too cold it will be hard to work with and it will spring back in on itself.
On the other hand, if your dough is too warm then it will begin to sweat, which means it will act like a glue between your dough and peel, and you’ll likely have issues with it sticking to the peel. You’ll also find that warm dough stretches too far and tears very easily.
4. Work with two peels
Speaking of temperature, our next tip is to keep your pizza peel and ingredients at room temperature. Using two peels at once for making and cooking pizza can help with this: use one ‘prep peel’ for building the pizza and launching it into your Ooni, and a separate ‘warm peel’ for turning and retrieving hot pizza from your oven. This just means that the prep peel is always at room temperature and doesn’t get hot from moving around inside the oven; using a room temperature prep peel will stop the pizza dough from softening very quickly once it touches a hot peel (especially metal peels), which can cause the dough to stick to the peel and become difficult to work with.
5. Flour everything!
Now you’re all set up and ready to stretch out a beautiful pizza. Before you do, it’s important to flour your hands and the surface you’re working on. Use a generous sprinkling on the peel to prevent the dough from sticking.
6. Check for holes
Once you’ve stretched out your pizza base, have a check for any holes in the base – any moisture that gets between the peel and the pizza dough will cause your dough to stick. When you use 00 flour and our Classic Pizza Dough recipe, your pizza dough will stretch out nicely, retain its springiness and you shouldn’t find any holes. If you do find any small holes or tears, simply pinch the holes together gently. If the holes or tears are too big to pinch together, you’re best off turning it into a Recovery Calzone!
7. Stop & shoogle
When you get to this point, with your stretched pizza base on your peel, and you think that you’re ready to add sauce and toppings, STOP! At this stage, always, always, always pick up your peel and give it a shake. If it’s stuck to the peel and won’t budge, simply pick up the edge of the dough and throw a little more flour to the peel. You won’t be able to do this once sauce and toppings have been added, so remember this step!
8. Keep toppings light
Now you’re ready to add toppings! We always say that less is more at Ooni HQ, and love light and simple toppings. This will also make it easier to get your pizza off of the peel and into your Ooni pizza oven because it won’t be weighed down with heavy ingredients. Be careful when spreading over your sauce, as you don’t want any to drop onto the peel – this can make it difficult to launch the pizza into the oven.
9. Move quickly (and relax)
Now that your pizza is stretched and is beautifully topped, it’s time to get it into your Ooni. Do be conscious of the fact that if the dough sits out too long, it is more likely to stick to the peel. This is because the sauce can begin to seep into the dough and cause a gluey effect. There’s no need to panic or rush, but just be sure to stretch out your dough and build your pizza when both you and your Ooni are ready to cook, then launch as soon as your toppings are finished.
10. The Hovercraft
Last but not least, this technique truly helps when launching a pizza because it helps the dough to glide from peel to stone. To do this, you want to lift up one edge of the pizza base and give a gentle blow of air under the dough. This creates some air pockets underneath the pizza and spreads excess flour around the underside of the pizza base to any areas that might be sticking. You can also add a little extra flour onto the peel, on the side you’ll be blowing from, as this will add extra flour underneath the base if needed.