Pizza Oven Tools and Accessories: Essentials for the Perfect Bake

peel placing pizza into oven at pizzeria

Creating gourmet pizzas at home is now a reality for many wood-fired oven-owning British homeowners. But those who are turning out restaurant-grade pizzas need more than just the oven. 

Whether you buy a best-in-class Valoriani pizza oven or another type of wood-fired oven, you will be somewhat hindered if you don’t invest in some all-essential pizza oven tools. 

This is not a case of trying to become an overnight pizzaiolo.  The tools are needed because this type of oven is very different from your gas or electric kitchen oven.

You might be able to ‘make do’ by moving dishes in your standard oven with a doubled-up tea towel, instead of oven gloves.  You could simply turn a pizza by lifting a baking tray in and out.  When it comes to a wood-fired oven, whether ready-built, built in or self-built with a DIY pizza oven kit, you can do neither.  Why?  Because this oven is operating at temperatures from around 400ºC and cooking food with a real flame.

The genuinely essential pizza oven tools

To get up and running with your pizza oven, there are three main tools you need: a paddle (peel), a metal turning peel and a long-handled floor brush.  This is why these three pizza making accessories are included with a Valoriani ‘Fornino’ oven from Orchard Ovens.

These three pizza oven tools will enable you to create perfect, consistently cooked, mouthwatering, and delicious gourmet pizzas at home.

So what do these ‘three musketeers’ of the pizza oven tools world actually do?

Pizza paddle or peel

This tool can be made of wood or metal, most probably aluminium. Both will be long-handled and resemble a flattened shovel.

The correct dough for a wood-fired oven is wet and sticky. For this reason, some pizza experts like to use a wooden paddle, especially one with a bevelled edge. A floured wooden paddle is less likely to encourage the dough to stick to it. Having a bevelled edge also makes it easier to shuffle the dough into the oven—the main use of the paddle. 

Others prefer a metal paddle.  If this is well-floured and you keep giving the dough a little shake, it should not stick.  If you can master this, you will find this sort of paddle much easier to clean.  It will also last longer than a wooden peel. 

Some wood-fired oven owners like to create their pizza on the paddle so they do not have to lift the dough onto it, risking a collapse.

Once your pizza is sitting on top of your wooden or metal peel, you can transport the uncooked pizza to the oven and insert the peel so the end rests where you want to place the pizza. By adopting a shuffling motion, you can jiggle the pizza off the peel/paddle and onto the oven floor—or a ceramic pizza stone, if that is what you are using. Thanks to the long handle, you won’t have to insert your hands inside the red-hot oven.

Remember that the longer you leave the dough on the work surface or paddle, the more likely it is to stick and the harder it is to pick up or shake off the peel.  Speed, organisation, and having all the ingredients ready are the keys to handling the dough on the peel/paddle.

Turning peel

A turning peel is another long-handled tool but one with a relatively small, rounded metal end. It is used to’ handle’ the pizza when it is cooking inside the oven. 

It is a handy tool that lets you inspect the pizza base by lifting one edge.  This should be done to see if the wood-fired oven is working its magic and producing a lovely browned pizza bottom with some elements of charring.  This pizza oven tool is also used to turn the pizza – usually after around 30 seconds, so different sides take their turn at being closest to the flame. Three or four turns per pizza are typically required.

Rotating the pizza in the oven requires skill, but it is quickly learned. If you cannot master that, you can use the turning peel to take the pizza out and turn it by hand. Beware, though, as the peel will be very hot.

A third use of the turning peel is to stand it on its side and, if necessary, protect a part of the pizza from the flame. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver—an Orchard Ovens customer—demonstrates this technique in this video.

This tool can also be used to load logs onto the fire (you should never throw logs in, as they can damage the oven) and to manoeuvre wood inside the oven.

Long-handled brush

The long-handled brush is the third essential pizza oven tool.  This deals with the embers and ash on the oven floor during cooking.  Using it, you can quickly sweep ash back into the fire, ensuring you are not cooking on top of it as you load your pizzas.  Unless you sweep it to one side or into the fire, the ash will affect the taste of your gourmet pizzas and create an unpleasant flavour.  A Valoriani (by G.I Metal) brush has brass within the bristles, making it a perfect tool for cleaning the oven floor.

Outdoor pizza kitchen equipment and pizza making accessories

Ceramic pizza stone

With a Valoriani oven, you do not need a ceramic pizza stone, as the oven is constructed of first-class refractory ‘cotto’ clay. You can cook your pizza directly on the oven floor. With other ovens, you may need a stone to draw moisture from the dough and try to cook your pizza optimally. 

It would be best if you took care not to damage the ceramic pizza stone. You should not wash it in any washing-up liquid or other substance that can transfer a taste into the stone. Washing purely in water is recommended, but that should not be done until it has fully cooled to prevent thermal shock and cracking.

Infra-red temperature gun

The traditional way of judging temperature in an artisan-built, authentic Italian wood-fired oven is to study the oven dome and wait until the soot has been burnt off it. However, modern appliances can give you a temperature reading of the oven floor and guide your decision-making as to when to put your pizza into the oven. 

An infrared temperature gun with CE or UKCA quality marks should be a good assistant. Other infrared guns may need to be more accurate and mislead you into thinking the temperature is sufficient.  To use the gun, you simply need to point the beam at the oven floor and get a temperature reading.

Some ovens, such as Valoriani’s ‘TOP’ DIY pizza oven kit option, have an in-built thermometer/temperature gauge. If so, you will not need an infrared temperature gun.

Thick, insulated gloves

Ordinary oven gloves are not likely to protect your hands if you are cooking with pots and pans and having to pick these up, as the temperature in a wood-fired oven is up to 300ºC hotter than your regular oven. You can utilise your metal peel to move some cookware out of the oven, but it is wise to invest in some thick welding gloves or barbecue gloves, which will go some way up your arm and cover your hands.

Log grate

A metal log grate might be handy to keep the logs back and prevent them from falling into your pizza. This will keep the fire contained and potentially make life easier. Valoriani produces a branded log grate that is very attractive and practical.

Log rest

A log rest can be an asset if you struggle to balance your wood so that it creates a good flow of oxygen around it. By resting logs against it, you can take some of the pain out of the balancing process, as the log rest should create the oxygen flow you need if you space your logs out against it.

Oven hook

An oven hook is a tool that literally allows you to hook a pan or pot and move it to where you want it within the oven. This can be useful if you create a variety of dishes and use the full capabilities of your wood-fired oven for several wood-burning recipes, as well as artisan pizza baking.

If you have any questions about the pizza oven tools and accessories that will allow you to achieve the perfect bake and thrill friends and family with gourmet pizza served at home, please call the Orchard Ovens team on 07743 847647.