Real Detroit-Style Pizza

To say I grew up on Detroit-style pizza is no exaggeration. Since I can remember, my mom has been making her infamous version of this pizza before “Detroit-Style” pizza ever became a thing. Detroit-Style Pizza is this; a square deep-dish pizza, where the pepperoni is underneath shredded brick cheese,  topped with a simple tomato sauce in three parallel strips and is baked until the cheese golden and the crust is crisp. 

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For my mom, the story begins when she lived in Hamtramck which is a city just north of Detroit. A family friend told her father (my grandfather) about Buddy’s Rendezvous. Back then, Buddy’s was a tavern and because of that, my mom and one of my Aunts would have to wait in the car while my grandfather picked the pizzas up. She said it felt like for ever, sitting and waiting for him to bring the pizzas. Now, looking back, my mom questions if took so long because really my grandpa was enjoying a beer at the bar while waiting.

When he would finally emerge with two piping hot pizzas, the smell of the freshly made pizza would fill up the car, making it even harder to wait. So to pass the drive time while making their way back home, my mom told me that she and my aunt would play a game of “who can keep the hot box of pizza on their lap the longest”.

Fast forward a few years to when my grandparents moved their family to Berkley (a small city in Oakland County). There wasn’t a Buddy’s chain yet, so my grandfather would travel all that way back just to get his pizza fix. Obviously my grandfather favorite pizza was Buddy’s so I believe it’s safe to say the drive was worth it.

When my mom was newly married, my parents moved and built my childhood home in Ortonville, Michigan. Ortonville is a good hour [or more] north of Detroit. There definitely wasn’t a Buddy’s that far north either, so my mom made it her mission to recreate her own Buddy’s pizza in her very own kitchen. One evening when my parents had my grandparents over to play cards, my mom made her version of Buddy’s pizza for my grandpa and he sang her praises, saying it was the closest to Buddy’s he’s ever tasted. My grandpa isn’t one to hand out empty compliments, so she knew he meant it.

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Now, there’s a Buddy’s Pizza all over the metro-Detroit area and you can find similar Detroit-style pizza in other restaurants and pizza chains as well. But Buddy’s will always be the originator of the square deep dish pizza.

Last week, I spent an hour on the phone with my mom perfecting my notes on what I remembered of her recipe; making sure I had the layering of toppings down, the specific type of cheese, sauce ingredients etc.  I wanted to make sure I had my facts straight before sharing my mom’s recipe with you all.

EEEP! I’m super excited about this!

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Detroit-style pizza is simple. You will need, 1 recipe for homemade pizza dough [divided in half and left to rise], 1 [15 ounce] ounce can of tomato sauce, a pinch of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of both dried basil and oregano, brick cheese and slices of sandwich pepperoni. The key to this recipe is to use room temperature ingredients. I bring them all out when I’m starting to make the pizza dough.

Start by generously greasing two 8×8 pans with olive oil. You want the pizza crust to get nice and crispy, so about a tablespoon or more per 8×8 pan. Using a pastry brush will help coat the sides and bottom of the pan easily. My mom would always use the pepperoni grease from the wax paper that comes in the deli zip locked bag. Sadly, my pepperoni wasn’t greasy at all ☹️ so I just used about 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, eyeball it.

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Then  to make the simple pizza sauce, pour a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce into a bowl and stir in a pinch of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of both dried basil and oregano. That’s it.

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Once the pizza dough has risen. Punch each one down to deflate.

After I made the pizza dough, I divided it in half and place each in a separate well oiled boil, cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot to rise.

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Working on one pizza at a time, stretch one of the deflated balls of dough to fit an 8×8 pan. Arrange the pepperonis [and it has to be sandwich pepperoni you would get at your deli counter] overlapping and then gently pressing the pepperoni into the pizza dough. Do this same step with the last of the dough. Let the dough rise for a second time for 20 more minutes before you sprinkle each pizza with 2 cups of freshly grated brick cheese. Make sure you get the cheese right up to the edge of the pan, so when it bakes it gets golden and crispy.

If you ask me, brick cheese is so much better than mozzarella. It has this buttery, creamy-ness and is utterly delicious on pizza. In a pinch, mozzarella would do. I guess. 😉

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Besides being deep-dish, what makes a pizza a Detroit-style pizza is that the sauce is on top. On top of the cheese that’s on top of the pepperoni. And you spoon it on in three parallel strips.

If you wanted any toppings [like mushrooms, onions, peppers] those go onto of the cheese and underneath the sauce.

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Bake the first pizza in your preheated 425° oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown. Remove and then bake the second pizza while the first pizza cools slightly in the pan.

Run a knife around the edge of the pizzas to loosen any cheese that may have stuck. Then transfer the pizza to a cutting board to cut into 4 qual pieces. Serve with salad!

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Pizza Friday may quickly become Detroit-Style Pizza Friday!

Ps. this is why you sprinkle the entire pizza with cheese [see below photo]. #crispy #bestpizzaever

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Enjoy! And if you give this Detroit-Style Pizza recipe a try, let me know! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!

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My cookbook Simply Scratch : 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy is now available! CLICK HERE for details and THANK YOU in advance!

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Detroit-Style Pizza

To say I grew up on this pizza is no exaggeration. Since I can remember, my mom has been making her infamous Detroit-style pizza before Detroit-style pizza became a thing.

Yield: 2 [8x8] pizzas or 8 large slices

Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 1 hour for rising

Cook Time: 15 to 18 minutes

Total Time: about 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients:

1 recipe homemade pizza dough, divided in half before rising

1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

a pinch of sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon of dried basil

1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano

18 slices of sandwich pepperoni

4 cups freshly grated brick cheese

Directions:

Separate the homemade pizza dough and form into two round balls. Place them into two well-oiled bowls and top to coat the dough with the oil. Cover each bowl with a tea towel and place in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour.

Set out the pepperoni and grated cheese to be brought up to room temperature and generously grease two 8x8 pans with olive oil.

Meanwhile in a bowl, stir together the tomato sauce, sugar, salt, basil and oregano.

Once the dough has risen, punch each one down and place each in the prepared baking pans. Stretch the dough to fit each 8x8 pan. Arrange the pepperonis [and it has to be sandwich pepperoni you would get at your deli counter] overlapping and then gently pressing the pepperoni into the pizza dough. Let the dough rise for 20 more minutes before you divide and sprinkle it with the brick cheese. Make sure you get the cheese right up to the edge of the pan.

Meanwhile preheat your oven to 425°.

Spoon the sauce in three parallel strips on top of the cheese. If you are putting any other toppings on your pizza [mushrooms, onions, peppers] add these before the sauce.

Bake the first pizza in your preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until the top is golden and the crust is crispy.

Let the pizza cool a bit in the pan before running a dull knife along the edge of the pan to release any stuck on cheese. Transfer pizza to a cutting board and cut into 4 pieces.

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16 Responses to “Real Detroit-Style Pizza”

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    1
    Maria — November 1, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Sounds delish! I’ve never been able to find Brick Cheese outside of Pittsburgh/Cleveland. Do you have a source that will mail to the West Coast??

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — November 2nd, 2017 @ 12:50 pm

      Hi Maria! I just did a quick search and found this website that you can order online from. I have not ordered from them, but they look legit. Enjoy!

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    Penny Pollard — November 1, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    I grew up in Detroit on Outer Drive and 6 Mile Road. I remember going to Buddy’s Pizza as a kid. We moved away to Vermont in 1972 when I was 13 yrs old. Thanks for the great memory and recipe!

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — November 2nd, 2017 @ 12:48 pm

      Oh you’re so welcome, Penny!

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    Molly — November 1, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    I’m excited to try this! I grew up on Chicago style pizza and I didn’t know there was such a thing as Detroit style, but it looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing! I will make this next week!

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — November 2nd, 2017 @ 12:47 pm

      Thank you, Molly! Enjoy!

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    Marina — November 2, 2017 at 1:02 am

    This sounds fantastic! What is brick cheese?

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — November 2nd, 2017 @ 12:46 pm

      Hi Marina! Brick cheese is originally a Wisconsin cheese that derived from American cheddar (although it doesn’t taste like cheddar to me). It melts beautifully and is delicious!

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    Stacy — November 2, 2017 at 9:56 am

    I’ve never even heard of brick cheese! Do you find it in a normal grocery store?

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — November 2nd, 2017 @ 12:45 pm

      I honestly can’t find it in every store, but I do find it at certain grocery stores near me that I know carry it. If you’re having trouble locating it, Farmers cheese or Mozzarella can be substituted in its place. I did a quick search and found this online store that will ship it. I haven’t ordered from them before, but it looks legit. I hope this helps!

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    Maureen — November 2, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Thank you for this recipe – and all your recipes. IWe made your butter chicken tonight. It’s a house favorite. On the tomato sauce – are you referring to tomato paste? I have limited options in Istanbul. Help!

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — November 2nd, 2017 @ 12:37 pm

      Hi Maureen! I’m so glad to hear you’re loving the recipes! If you can’t find tomato sauce, tomato puree will work. Tomato paste will be too thick, so I wouldn’t recommend that unless you dilute it in about 1-1/4 cups of water and simmer it for a few. I hope this helps! Enjoy!

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    Karen @ The Food Charlatan — November 3, 2017 at 2:37 am

    This seriously looks amazing! I love the story of your mom and sister keeping pizza on their laps! So fun. Love family recipes like this.

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — November 3rd, 2017 @ 5:50 pm

      Thanks, Karen! ❤️

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    Gwendolyn Fullmer — November 3, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    I’ve never heard of or seen brick cheese. Is it just a brick of mozzarella? Or cheese called brick cheese? I do apologise if my comment is so silly. I’m still learning how to cook.

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — November 3rd, 2017 @ 8:44 pm

      Hi Gwendolyn! It’s a type of cheese that is called Brick because it shaped to resemble brick, but it is it’s own type of cheese. Here’s a link that will explain it better than I ever could. 🙂

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