Detroit-style pizza? Really? There’s New York and Chicago, but how many Americans have heard of this unique Detroit style? It’s a thick rectangular pizza, distinctive in that the sauce is on top of the cheese, it has particularly crispy edges, and it is sometimes twice baked. It was first created after World War II in Buddy’s Rendezvous, which later became Buddy’s Pizza and is still open today.
This pizza is intimately related to the Detroit car industry. It’s made in blue steel pans that were used by the automobile industry as containers for hardware on the assembly line. The steel provides superior heat conductivity and caramelization of the crust—the mark of a great Detroit-style pizza. These pans are available from various manufacturers online.
Another Midwest-specific quality to this pizza is brick cheese. It’s a simple, pragmatic cheese made in the tradition of the washed-rind abbey cheeses of Europe. Many immigrants brought this cheese-making process with them. We buy ours from the Widmer family of Wisconsin. They use large, heavy brown rectangular bricks from Ohio to weigh down the cheese curd overnight, hence the name of the cheese. The young version is particularly good for melting. If you can’t find brick cheese, substitute mozzarella.
If you don’t have an authentic Detroit pizza pan, you can use a 9-by-13-inch pan instead.
Servings: Makes 1 pizza
For the dough:
1 cup water, 100 F
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon instant yeast
Nonstick cooking spray or olive oil
For the sauce:
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 tabelspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
1 tabelspoon crushed dried basil
1 ½ teaspoons finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ ground black pepper
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the water and sea salt and stir to dissolve the salt. Add the flour and yeast and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough becomes a shaggy mass. Make sure that all of the flour is hydrated. Using the dough-hook attachment, mix on medium-low speed for 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and release the dough from the hook. Mix for an additional 4 minutes. It will now hold a round shape.
Spray a bowl with nonstick cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Place the dough into the bowl and cover with plastic. Let the dough relax for 15 minutes, and then shape the dough.
To shape the dough, lightly oil or butter the inside surfaces of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or Detroit pizza pan.
Place the dough into the pan and use your fingertips to spread the dough out to the corners and sides of the pan. The dough will be sticky, so lightly dip your fingertips in oil to make stretching it easier. Set the pan aside, cover with plastic, and let rise in a warm area for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the dough is approximately ½ to ¾ inch tall in the pan.
Combine the tomatoes, sugar, oregano, basil, garlic, sea salt, and pepper, and stir in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring periodically. Using an immersion blender or food processor, purée the sauce until smooth. Place it back over medium heat. Simmer the puréed sauce until slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
Keep the sauce warm for ladling over the pizza, or cool and refrigerate for up to a week. This recipe makes about 3 cups of sauce; it can also be frozen for up to 3 months if desired. You will have more sauce than you need for one pizza.
Prepare to bake the pizza by preheating the oven to 475 F. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese around the edge of the pizza where the dough touches the sides of the pan. This cheese will form a crispy caramelized edge on the crust. If desired, place pepperoni in two rows of four down the length of the pizza directly on top of the dough. Gently push the pepperoni into the dough.
Sprinkle the mozzarella and brick cheeses over the surface of the pizza, spreading them all the way to the edges where the dough meets the sides of the pan. This cheese will also contribute to the crispy caramelized edge on the crust. Season the top of the pizza with a pinch each of oregano and salt.
Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Look for an amber-colored top and crispy edges.
After removing the pizza from the oven, use a small offset spatula or knife to loosen the sides of the crust from the pan. Slide the pizza out of the pan onto a cooling rack. At this point, if a crispier bottom is desired, you can put the pizza (out of the pan) directly onto the oven rack or a sheet tray and bake for an extra 5 minutes for a slightly more browned finish on the bottom of the crust.
After you remove the pizza from the oven, top it with the warm sauce. Traditionally, it is ladled into two rows down the length of the pizza. Serve warm.
Storage note: This pizza can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and reheated on a lightly oiled sheet tray at 475 F.
Reprinted from Zingerman’s Bakehouse by Amy Emberling and Frank Carollo with permission from Chronicle Books © 2017.