I read an article in the Detroit Free Press recently that talked about how pizza from this area is starting to get recognition around the country. Everyone knows the famous New York City foldable slice that I grew up eating, the Chicago deep-dish pie, and the unconventional and quirky toppings of California-style pizza.
But pizza from Detroit? Huh? Don't they call that Little Caesar's or Domino's, both of which were founded here in Michigan?
The newfangled pizzas were apparently first made in this area at Buddy's Pizza (then called "Buddy's Rendezvous") in 1946. The unusual style, and its immense popularity, inspired others to copy it and perfect it. The pizza has subsequently evolved and become very distinctive and unbelievably good. It really is its own unique, savory entity.
So, after all of this preamble, what, precisely, is Detroit-style pizza???
Well, here are its characteristics:
- It's square, not round. Corners are prized.
- It's baked in a deep pan, so it's very thick. But while the interior of the crust is soft and light, the exterior is crisp.
- The toppings and the cheese are distributed over the entire crust, without leaving a bare edge. This allows the cheese that touches the pan to become chewy, crunchy, and caramelized as it bakes.
- Most of the sauce is spread over the cheese, rather than lying under it. This makes it less liquid, and thus better integrated with the toppings rather than being a separate layer that the cheese will just slide off of.
Brandon Hunt, co-owner with his brother, Zane, of VIA 313: Authentic Detroit Style Pizza in Austin, was quoted in the Free Press article: "When you grow up in Detroit, you just think that's pizza ... that everybody knows it. But it's really a Detroit thing. It's great, and we thought people should be able to experience it."
Shawn Randazzo, of the Detroit Style Pizza Co., won the 2012 Las Vegas International Pizza Expo with a Detroit-style pizza, a first for the competition. Jeff Smokevitch, raised in a Detroit suburb but now making his hometown's unique pizza at his Brown Dog Pizza in Telluride, Colorado, came in 2nd overall in this year's contest.
To see if Detroit-style pizza is available near you, or to learn more about this growing phenomenon, check out Shawn Randazzo's DetroitStylePizza.com.
Or make the pizza in the picture at the top of this post. You know you want some!
- 2 packets quick-rise yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1-1/2 cups warm water, divided
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3-1/2 cups unbleached flour
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup oil
In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, sugar, and 3/4 cup water; let proof for 10 minutes. Stir in remaining water, salt, 3 cups flour, and garlic powder. Mix well. Turn dough out onto a countertop and knead in the remaining 1/2 cup flour until a soft dough forms.
Place the oil in another large mixing bowl. Place the dough into it, turning to coat the dough thoroughly with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a dish towel; let rise for 1 hour until doubled.
Punch down dough and place into a greased 9"x13" metal baking pan (the darker the better). Press dough to edges of pan, cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel; let rise for 1 hour until doubled.
- 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons pesto
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- generous sprinkling of red pepper flakes
- pinch of kosher salt
Combine all ingredients.
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 4 ounces ham, chopped
- 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped
- 8 ounces mozzarella, shredded
Spread the rest of the sauce over the cheese and mix the sauce and cheese together just a bit.
Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and golden, and edges are caramelized and crisp. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.
Makes 8-12 generous slices.