Zingerman’s Detroit-Style Pizza

One of the twenty seven reasons I need to get back to Detroit as soon as possible is – PIZZA.  

Bready baked, crisp edged, pepperoni dotted, cheese pulled, sweet and savory sauce – PIZZA.  

This version of city pizza is different from a Chicago deep dish or a New York slice.  Gloriously different.  I think of it as a lightly doughy, caramelized cheese bread topped with a sweet and herby tomato sauce. Basically the best version of a school lunch pizza.  No shade.  That’s a high compliment.  Pizza days in elementary school were a very big deal.  

It’s the weekend and consider this my submission for your Saturday night dinner plans. 

Even though I didn’t get a chance to have Detroit-style Pizza while I was actually in Detroit… I can try to work a pan pizza in my own oven.

Enter:  the new Zingerman’s Bakehouse cookbook – I can’t recommend this book enough.  I ran across this pizza recipe on my initial flip-through and it stopped me in my tracks.  This is the first of about a double dozen recipes I want to make from this sweet book.  

Here’s what you’ll need for this pizza.  I divided the Zingerman’s recipe in half to use a 8×8-inch square pan.  The regular recipe bakes up well in a 9×13-inch pan though traditionally we should all be using a Detroit-style pizza pan.  

•  Yeast, flour, salt, and water for the crust.

• Crushed tomatoes, garlic, dried herbs, and a hit of sugar for a homemade sauce.

•  Mozzarella cheese + parmesan cheese for a crispy edge.  I didn’t have a brick cheese, traditional and expected for a Detroit-style pizzas, so I used another handful of mozzarella and everything turned out very pizza-y. 

•  Pepperoni if you’re into that sort of thing and I am very much. 

Start with active dry yeast in warm water.  Bring it to life.  Add a tiny pinch of sugar for extra security.  

Flour, plenty. 

We’ll quick stir the mixture with a spatula before kneading the dough with a dough hook for 4 minutes.  

Tight and relatively smooth.  Holds its shape, but just a little bit sticky.  

You’ll find the happy place. 

The dough rests in the bowl for 15 minutes before making its way into the pan.  Stretch to the edges and allow to rest and rise in place.  

While the dough rests we’ll simmer the sauce.  

Crushed canned tomatoes with dried basil and dried oregano.  

Sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.  

Fresh minced garlic + salt and pepper.  

Simmer until thickened.  For a very smooth sauce, blend with a immersion blender.  We’ll keep it warm while our pizza bakes. 

This is very good news. 

Can you see the light puff in the dough?  That’s right!

Shredded Parmesan cheese around the edges.  It will caramelize and create a golden crispy edge.  I’m telling you… you’ll be sprinkling Parmesan around the edges of everything after a few bites of this pizza. 

Straight on top of the dough:  pepperoni.  

And you guessed it – more cheese.  Mozzarella and brick cheese if you have it.  Mozzarella definitely and don’t skimp.  We’re making pizza bread. 

Yes, it looks right and good and like we can’t seem to get it in our faces fast enough.

Yes, we get to add bonus sauce to this cheese bread and call it pizza!

Two generous stripes and we better slice this up and get to business! 

The thing I like about you is that you don’t need much more convincing.  I feel like you just get me and you’re on your way to making this pizza if not pronto then likely tomorrow.  Good.  I like you.  We love pizza. 

These photos were made with Jon Melendez, then we ate a lot of pizza. 

Zingerman's Detroit Style Pizza
Serves 4
Double the dough portion of this recipe to make the pizza in a 9x13-inch pan!
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Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
15 min
For the Crust
  1. 1/2 cup warm water
  2. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  3. 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
For the Sauce
  1. 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  2. 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  4. 1 tablespoon dried basil
  5. 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  6. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  7. 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
For the Toppings
  1. 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  2. 8 slices pepperoni (optional)
  3. 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  4. 1 cup shredded brick cheese (or just use shredded mozzarella)
  5. pinch of dried oregano
  6. pinch of sea salt
  7. 1 cup of the warm pizza sauce
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add water, salt, flour, and yeast. Use a spatula and quickly combine the mixture . Mix the dough using the dough hood on low speed for about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl early on in the mixing. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and work around the dough hook. If the dough feels too dry, add a splash of water. If it's too wet, add a few more tablespoons of flour.
  2. Lightly grease a medium bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes and then shape the dough.
  3. To shape the dough, line a 8x8-inch with parchment paper and lightly grease.
  4. Place the dough in the pan and use your fingertips to spread the dough to the corners and lightly up the sides of the pan. The dough will be slightly sticky so dip your fingers in oil to make stretching easier. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour, until visibly puffed about 1/2 inch thick in the pan.
  5. While the dough is rising, make the sauce. To make the sauce in a small saucepan combine tomatoes, sugar, oregano, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and stir until thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Use an immersion blender to break down the sauce more. (This step makes for a chunky/smooth sauce but isn't entirely necessary. Keep the sauce warm for spooning over the pizza once it's baked.
  6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  7. 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 down the length of the pizza directly on top on the dough, pressing it in lightly.
  8. Sprinkle the mozzarella and brick cheese over the entire pizza, reaching up to the sides of the pan. Sprinkle with dried oregano and salt.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbling and an amber color and the edges look like they're caramelizing.
  10. 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 and onto a cooling rack. At this point, if you'd like a more crisp bottom, place the pizza directly onto the oven rack and bake for an extra 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and top with the warm sauce. Traditionally it is ladled into two rows down the length of the pizza. Serve warm and enjoy!
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