transfer pizza onto stone without sticking
After I have made my pizza and put the toppings onto it, I find that I am unable to transfer the pizza on to the pizza stone in the oven.
When I try to do it the pizza goes out of shape, gets folded, the toppings get messed up and sometimes it sticks or rips. I have tried putting lots of flour under the pizza before I add the toppings but it didn't really help.
I am having to make the pizza on a metal tray and then put the tray onto the stone. Put I think that doing this prevents my pizza base from crisping properly.
What am I doing wrong? Is there some technique I should use, or am making the dough to wet, or to thin or something?
do you have and are you using a pizza peel, or are you using another method? I've noticed that some answers assume you have and are using one, while mine doesn't.
@justkt - no, I have just been using a metal tray with a lip only on side (3 sides without a lip). I didn't know what to call a pizza peel until now, I might look into getting one.
I've worked as a pizza cook, so I can give you a hard-earned answer. Cornmeal, and plenty of it. If you aren't putting cornmeal (or flour, but cornmeal works better) on the peel before you put the pizza on it, start. If you are putting it on, use more. Then put the pizza on it and give it a shake and make sure the pizza is loose before you try to shove it in the oven. If it isn't, lift up the edge that is stuck and sprinkle more cornmeal under it, then try again. The pizza should be completely free-moving on the peel before you try to transfer it to the oven.
The peel is a lot of fun. It's very satisfying to get the perfect wrist flick to slide the pizza into the best spot in the oven without hitting the embers. We use semolina meal, probably a local thing as corn meal is more expensive here?
Semolina is a nice choice as well; better than plain flour because of the coarser grain. It acts more like ball bearings. Local availability is a factor, as is the different taste. Cornmeal adds a certain flavor which can be a plus or minus depending on the rest of the pizza.
one of my favorite places uses sesame seeds - a little up higher on the crust as well. try it out for variety sometime, you may get hooked :)
My former boss--a certified pizzaiolo from Naples (as in, the certification org is Neapolitan)--agrees: cornmeal, cornmeal, cornmeal.
Thanks for this very helpful answer. I didn't really like the flavour/texture that the cornmeal added, but for me the slightly toasted Semolina actually improves the flavour and texture of the bottom of the pizza. Shaking the pizza to make sure it is not stuck, and adding more Semolina if it is seems to be the key step. And then transferring it quite quickly before it can get stuck again. After a bit of practise I am able to reliably transfer very thin based pizzas off the back of my tray now using this technique.