This Detroit-style pizza recipe has a soft and airy crust, a crunchy exterior, a sweet and savory sauce with cheesy, crusty edges.
If you haven’t yet experienced the Detroit-style deep dish, you’re in for a treat!
When it comes to American pizza, we most often hear about New York and Chicago. Not Detroit-style pizza.
Such a shame, because it is arguably the best kind among the three. In fact, many people would argue that Detroit-style pizza is the best of ANY kind.
It’s similar to deep-dish pizza but with a charred, thin rectangular crust.
If you haven’t heard of Detroit pizza before, you’ve come to the right place.
Not only will I tell you all about this unique dish, but I’ll also give you the best tips and tricks for making it yourself!
But First, What Is Detroit-Style Pizza?
Detroit-style pizza is a thick and rectangular-shaped pizza that uniquely has the sauce layered on top of the cheese.
The cheesy, crusty edges and square slices set it apart from the crowd. While the savory sauce and ooey-gooey cheese create a literal explosion in your mouth.
Detroit pizza was invented post-war (1946) by Gus Guerra and his wife Anna. Gus was the owner of a neighborhood bar called Buddy’s Rendezvous.
One day he decided he needed to add something new and enticing to the menu. With the help of his wife Anna, they came up with a new and innovative pizza.
Anna borrowed the dough recipe from her Sicilian mother. The Sicilian dough, topped with cheese and tomato sauce, became the de facto standard for pizza in Detroit.
But the real secret here was the deep-dish pan.
It created the soft and airy crust, a crunchy exterior, and cheesy, crusty edges. A true Detroit-style pizza pan is more like a cast iron skillet than a cake pan.
The restaurant later changed its name to Buddy’s Pizza. And after 70 long years, the business still exists today.
Apart from the interesting shape, Detroit-style pizza is also famous for its cheesy corner slices. It has a double proofed dough (dough that’s stretched twice).
Plus, it’s layered with toppings in reverse, such that the pepperoni comes first, cheese next, and the sauce on top.
The ingredients for this recipe will vary, depending on which toppings you want to add. For this particular recipe, here’s what you’ll need:
For the crust:
- Warm water
- Active dry yeast
- White sugar
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Bread flour
These things guarantee the thin, tasty crust for which Detroit pizza is so famous.
For the sauce:
- Marinara sauce
Pick whichever brand you like best.
For the seasonings:
- Red pepper flakes
- Garlic powder
These give the pizza a garlicky finish and a touch of heat.
For the toppings:
- Monterey Jack cheese
- Mild cheddar
- Thick pepperoni
These toppings will give you the typical pepperoni pizza. Add veggies, other meats, etc., to suit your tastes.
How to Make Detroit-Style Pizza
1. Make the dough.
You can make the dough by hand or using a stand mixer. Jump down to the recipe card to see detailed instructions for each method.
2. Spread the dough.
Grease a 10 x 14-inch Detroit-style pizza pan with olive oil and spread it evenly. Then, place the dough ball in the center of the pan and start stretching it into a rectangular shape.
Once the dough is shaped, cover it and set it aside to rise. It’ll need about an hour.
3. Prepare the sauce.
Combine the marinara, oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic in a saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
4. Preheat and prepare the cheese.
Set the oven to between 500 and 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then, cut the cheese into small cubes. Transfer the cubes to a bowl and toss them lightly to mix.
5. Assemble the pizza.
Once the dough has fully risen, stretch it up the sides of the pan. To do this, coat your fingers in olive oil and gently pull the dough.
Press gently as you pull, extending the dough about 1/2 an inch up the sides of the pan.
Then, add a layer of pepperoni. (Save a little for later.) Place the cheese cubes on top of the pepperoni. Then, pour the sauce in three long strips on top.
Use the remaining pepperoni to top the sauce.
Bake the pizza for about 15 minutes or until the crust becomes golden brown. Then, remove it from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 5 minutes.
7. Slice and serve.
Transfer the pizza onto a cutting board. Slice it into squares, and serve!
Tips & Tricks
- Vary the toppings. The recipe only calls for cheese and pepperoni as the toppings, but you can add whatever ingredients you want. Sausage, ham, mushrooms, olives, bell peppers, and dare I say it: pineapple. You can also add Mozzarella cheese for more gooey goodness. You can even do a half-and-half pizza!
- Use bread flour if at all possible. It’s the key to the crispy on the edges, chewy at the center crust is the flour. Sure, you can use all-purpose flour to make pizza dough, but it will not be as good! Bread flour is high in gluten, which is responsible for that perfectly textured crust a Detroit-style pizza has.
- Garnish the crust with dried oregano. Do this before adding the toppings. It’ll help you achieve that focaccia-Esque crust.
- No Detroit pizza pan? No problem! Any 9×13 baking pan will do. But keep in mind that darker pans will cook your pizza faster than lighter pans, so you must adjust the baking time accordingly.
- Reduce the heat. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, cut down on the pepper flakes.
- Brick cheese is best. It’s imperative for an authentic Detroit-style pizza. Brick cheese is a high-fat aged cheese from Wisconsin. It has a buttery flavor and browns incredibly well. It’s one of the ingredients that gives Detroit pizza its distinct flavor.
- Store leftovers properly. You can store leftover pizza in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven until warm through, 10 to 15 minutes. Or if you’re impatient like me, nuke it in the microwave.
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