Serious Eats: Talk

Cornmeal Issue Part 2: Less smoke & folded pie

Thanks for all the feedback re cornmeal and smoky kitchen. So tonight I took some of your advice and cut back on the cornmeal by 1/3 and substituted flour on the stone and peel, as well as being super careful not to get on oven bottom. Well, that part worked well; much less smoke. HOWEVER, I had a small disaster with pie #1 as I could not get it to slide off the peel; it once again got stuck, then came off in a series of folds onto the stone, and some even slid over the edge of the stone. A HUGE OVEN MESS to say the least. It was too hot to do anything so I shut the door and watched the bloody mess bake. Although I lost half the pie, the half that was saved was actually excellent; great crust, wonderful cornichona, excellent crunch.

I did not have the time to cool down,clean the oven & stone and then bake the second pie, so I used a pizza tin and put the pie on top of the stone in the tin. Well, the same dough batch in the tin took 17 minutes to bake at 550 degrees (the stone took about 6 minutes). For reasons unknown, the crust came out very thin and flat, as if all the air had been taken out. There were no poofy holes in the cornichona. I assume the long bake time does something bad to the dough?

Anyway, I don't know how to best solve the peel slide issue. Not sure what parchment paper is-won't it ignite at 550 degrees? If I make any more smoke my wife is going to beat me with the peel.
I watch the guys in the pizzarias and they shake the peel twice and it comes right off-don't get what I am doing wrong. I use a 17" stone and make a 16" pie, putting about 7 oz of sauce, 7oz of cheese, and some olive oil around the edge to prevent charring of the cornichona. My top oven is small and there is not much of an angle to slide the pie off-maybe 25 degrees. The peel is 20" with a long handle.

What would happen if I slid the pie onto the stone BEFORE the sauce, and then added it once on the stone? I know I would lose a lot of oven heat. Thanks guys!

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