Detroit Style Pizza – Characteristics, History, and General Preparation

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What is Detroit style pizza, what are its defining characteristics and historical background, what can you expect when eating it, and how is it generally prepared? This post will provide you with all the details about Detroit style pizza

General Background and Characteristics

The Detroit pizza, originating from the city of Detroit in Michigan, is a variation of the Sicilian pizza. Similar to the Sicilian, it is baked in a square pan and has a relatively thick crust with a soft crumb and a crispy bottom and outer crust.

But what sets Detroit pizza apart from Sicilian pizza? Traditionally, Detroit pizza is baked in square pans made of blue steel (a steel with specific properties obtained from high heat production, giving it a blue color); The cheese, typically brick cheese, is evenly spread across the entire dough, with extra focus on the edges of the pan. This allows the cheese to caramelize while baking, resulting in crispy edges and a delicious burnt or caramelized flavor. The sauce is added to Detroit pizza only after it has been baked and is applied in thick stripes that cover the length of the pizza.

Roots and History of Detroit Style Pizza

The origins of Detroit pizza can be traced back to Buddy’s, a pizzeria that is still in operation today, and its founder Gus Guerra, who was also an Italian immigrant. In 1944, Guerra established Buddy’s Rendezvous primarily as a non-food pub/bar. It wasn’t until 1964 that Gus started selling pizzas, using a Sicilian recipe that had been passed down from his Italian mother-in-law. However, for baking, he chose to use blue steel pans that were commonly used in Detroit and originally designed for the automobile industry, as Detroit was the center of the American automobile industry at that time.

In 1964, Guerra was forced to sell Buddy’s, including the pizza recipe, to a man named Loui Tourtois, due to a business disagreement. As a result, Guerra founded a new establishment called Cloverleaf. Over time, Tourtois left Buddy’s, taking Guerra’s original recipe with him, and went on to open a pizzeria named Loui’s.

Today, Buddy’s, Loui’s, and Cloverleaf are the three pizzerias that are considered iconic in the world of Detroit pizza. Among these, Buddy’s is widely recognized as the foremost purveyor of authentic Detroit pizza.

Eating Characteristics of Detroit Style Pizza

Detroit pizza is renowned for its thick, soft crust and is typically served in large squares. What sets Detroit pizza apart from other styles is the “crown” of caramelized cheese that encircles the entire crust. Describing or comparing the taste and texture of this caramelized cheese are hard to describe or compare to any other pizza or food. When someone takes their first bite of Detroit pizza and experiences the distinctive texture and explosion of flavors in their mouth, it becomes an unforgettable moment.

A crucial aspect that distinguishes “authentic” Detroit pizza is the use of traditional brick cheese. This cheese has a robust and intense flavor, which differs significantly from mozzarella or other commonly used cheeses in pizzas. However, it should be noted that this specific type of cheese is not widely available outside the US and can even be challenging to find within the country.

In addition to the unique cheese and crust texture, the sauce in Detroit pizza is spread unevenly along the length of the pizza. This creates an intriguing combination of bites with and without sauce, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to the overall eating experience.

Preparation of Detroit Style Pizza

If you ask natives of Detroit, they will tell you that using a blue steel pan and brick cheese is crucial when making Detroit pizza. In my experience, this is a nice myth that mostly serves their sense of patriotism, and you can still make an excellent Detroit pizza using a “plain” square steel pan and a combination of mozzarella and white cheddar instead of brick cheese. It is crucial, however, for the pan to be deep, well-greased, and have sloping sides – This allows the cheese to “slide” between the dough and the edges of the pan, caramelizing properly, which wouldn’t happen in a pan without sloped edges. If you don’t have access. A great alternative to a blue steel pan is to use a dedicated Detroit-style pizza pan, such as Lloyd’s.For the dough, aim for a dough hydration level of 70%, without any added sugar. The use of olive oil is optional. Similar to Sicilian pizza, the dough is fermented inside the pan.

For baking, it is recommended to directly bake the pizza (although par-baking is also an option). The Detroit pizza should be baked for approximately 15 minutes in total, at a temperature of around 260C/500F.

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