What is Detroit-style pizza? If you haven’t had the pleasure, imagine a thick, rectangular crust topped with crispy, caramelized brick cheese, finished with dollops of savory sauce on top.
This distinct pizza style was developed after World War II at Buddy’s Rendezvous, which is now known as Buddy’s Pizza. A Detroit original, this pizza style has deep roots in the automotive industry. In fact, Buddy’s selected steel assembly line containers as the pizza’s baking vessel thanks to steel’s superior heat conductivity. These screaming-hot pans are the secret ingredient to achieve the hallmark characteristic of a perfect Detroit Pizza: crispy, caramelized crust.
Lesser known than its counterparts from the Big Apple and the Windy City, Detroit-Style Pizza has cultivated its own loyal, sometimes fanatical, fan base. For many, this rectangular, savory pie is a deeply nostalgic and traditional dish. Many think the only way to taste authentic Detroit Style Pizza is by trekking to Buddy’s. While Buddy’s is always worth a trip, we’re pleased to report you can achieve the same taste in your own home.
Whether you have a curious palate, share our love for kitchen projects, or want to share the nostalgic taste of Detroit-style pizza outside of the Detroit area, we invite you to make your own D.I.Y Detroit-style pizza with the recipe below! Or, join us for a Detroit Classics class at BAKE! and we can make it together.
Detroit-Style Pizza Recipe
Equipment: One 9 x 13-inch baking pan
Yield: One Pizza
Water (100° F) 1 cup 227 grams
Instant Yeast 3/4 teaspoon 3/4 teaspoon
All-Purpose Flour 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon 291 grams
Sea Salt 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon
Mozzarella (shredded) 2 cups 227 grams
Brick Cheese (shredded) 2 cups 227 grams
Parmesan Cheese (shredded) 1/4 cup 45 grams
Pepperoni 8 slices 8 slices
Sauce (recipe below) 1 cup 227 grams
Oregano (dried) pinch pinch
Sea Salt pinch pinch
Yield: 3 cups
Crushed Tomato (canned) 28 ounces (one large can) 795 grams
Granulated sugar 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon 44 grams
Oregano (dried and crushed) 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon
Basil (dried and crushed) 1 tablespoon 1 tablespoon
Garlic (finely minced) 1 1/2 teaspoon 1 1/2 teaspoon
Sea Salt 1 teaspoon 1 teaspoon
Black Pepper 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 teaspoon
- In the mixer bowl of your 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 hook attachment, mix on speed 4 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 non-stick spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Place the dough into the container and cover with plastic. Let the dough relax for 15 minutes and then shape the dough.
Shaping the Pizza
- Lightly oil or butter the inside surfaces of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
- Place the dough into the baking 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 the dough easier.
- Set the baking pan aside, cover with plastic, and let rise in a warm area from one and a half to two hours or until the dough is approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inches tall in the pan.
Preparing the Sauce
- Combine all the ingredients and stir together in a saucepot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring periodically.
- Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree sauce until smooth, and place back over medium heat.
- Simmer the pureed sauce until slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
- Keep sauce warm for ladling over pizza, or cool and refrigerate for up to a week. This sauce can be frozen for up to three months, if desired.
Garnishing the Pizza and Baking
- Preheat 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 brick and mozzarella cheese blend over the surface of the pizza, spreading it 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 of salt and oregano.
- Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Look for 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 an extra five minutes for a slightly more browned finish on the bottom of the crust.
- After the pizza is removed from the oven, top with warm sauce. Sauce amount can vary by taste and is traditionally ladled into 2 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 degrees F.