Detroit-Style Pan Pizza

05

I live in a place with an array of wonderful and amazing things at my fingertips, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss things from my hometown, or that certain metro-Detroit staples won’t always have a place in my heart. Red hot bbq Better Made chips will always be like crack to me, Lebanese food in the US will never taste better than it does in Dearborn MI, Zingerman’s will be constantly missed, and–despite their declining performance and this being the first time in 25 years they haven’t made the playoffs–I will forever remain a Red Wings fan. Never gonna board that Blackhawks train, NOPE.

And yeah, pizza. Everyone knows Chicago pizza is one of the greatest things ever (even New Yorkers, they just don’t want to admit it) but Detroit-style pizza is really damn good. Square pizza equals more crust/edges, which is brilliant. Baking the pizza in a pan with oil at a high temperature gives it a nice caramelized crust that’s just fantastic. And putting some sauce (but not too  much) over the toppings instead of on top of the bread eliminates sogginess. Union Squared has blessedly moved into a space near my work so I can now get Detroit-style pizza pretty much whenever I want, but making it at home is even better. Lucky for me, my now-7 year old (!) asked for pizza for his birthday dinner and I saw this as the perfect chance to give this Serious Eats recipe I’d bookmarked a whirl.

 

The recipe calls for baking the pizza in a Detroit-style aluminum anodized pan, which I’d venture to say no one reading this has. You can also use two 8×8″ square pans, but since I only had 1 8″ metal pan and a birthday boy, I used a 9×13″ metal baking dish and a small 6″ springform for an individual pizza. I’m sure you could just use a 9×13″ and just end up with a thicker crust if you’d prefer. And in case you’re wondering, my garbage disposal ate another piece on top of the individual one, anyway.

This was so good. Oh so good! The crust was just perfect and, bonus, no trying to roll a perfect circle or the dreaded attempts at moving it to a pizza stone without messing it up/sliding half of it off the pan/scorching yourself on a 500º pizza stone. We checked 3 stores for Wisconsin brick cheese to no avail, so we used a combo of Monterrey Jack and Mozzarella at the suggestion of the Serious Eats article.

Whether you’re a former Detroiter who misses Buddy’s or just someone who loves a great pizza, definitely try this one out. You will fall in love (or fall in love all over again), I promise.

Detroit-Style Pan Pizza

  • about 3.5 hours (includes rise time)
  • 45 minutes
  • 4 servings

Ingredients

  • For the Dough:
  • 10.5 ounces Bread flour (about 2 generous cups)
  • .15 oz. instant yeast (about 1 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 7.75 oz. water (about 1 cup minus 1.5 tsp.)
  • Olive oil
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • dash of crushed red pepper
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 12 oz. Wisconsin brick cheese (or a combination of Monterrey Jack and low moisture Mozzarella), cut into 1/2" cubes
  • Pepperoni or other toppings

Directions

  1. Fit a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. In the mixer's bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt, stirring just to combine, then add water. Mix on low speed until dough comes together into a rough ball. Shut off mixer and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Mix at medium-low speed until dough forms a smooth, silky ball, about 5-10 minutes longer. Detach the bowl and remove the dough. Form the dough it into a tight ball, set in the bottom of the mixer bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise a warm place until roughly doubled in volume, about 2 hours. (To make the dough with a food processor or by hand, go to the Serious Eats post linked below.)
  2. Pour a couple of tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a 10x14" Detroit-style pan or two 8x8" metal cake pans (I used a 9x13" and a 6" springform for an individual pizza.) Transfer the dough to the pan(s) and turn to coat it in oil. Press the dough down and move it toward the edges. At this stage, you probably won't be able to get it all the way to the edges. Allow the dough to relax for another 30 minutes as you make the sauce, and then stretch it again, pulling it back a little past the corners (so it stretches back and hits the corners).
  3. Adjust your oven rack to the lowest position and preheat your oven to 550º.
  4. To make the sauce, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a small or medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the minced garlic, oregano, and crushed red pepper, stirring until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the crushed tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
  5. Press down on the pizza dough to remove any air bubbles. If using pepperoni, lay half of it across the dough (you can also add other toppings, but I wouldn't overload it), followed by the cheese, and then the rest of the pepperoni/toppings. Spoon the sauce over the top in 3 rows or stripes.
  6. Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is browning and the edges are dark.
  7. Run a thin metal spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen the pizza, and then slide it onto a cutting board. Slice into squares and serve.
Barely adapted from Serious Eats
  • I saw this recipe when Kenji posted it, but I was put off by the requirement for a special pan and special cheese. I’m glad to see a review – by someone who has a solid basis for comparison – that says neither of those are necessary.

    • Definitely not necessary. I do wish I had found the cheese, though! Gonna have to smuggle some back next time or get it shipped.

  • Eric Collins

    My only exposure to Detroit Style pizza is by that one “Pizza Pizza” chain…

    • Not the best exposure. Not the best… 😩 Give Union Squared a try in Revival Food Hall. Much better representation.

  • Jessi Lashakmitis

    Very interesting recipe!!! It looks great and unique in those beautiful images. Have to try making it!!!
    Jessi