Detroit Deep Dish Pizza: The Square Necessities

Detroit Deep Dish Pizza: The Square Necessities

A Detroit deep dish pizza is essentially a Detroiter, but in food form: a bit crusty around the edges, shaped by the industry of the Motor City auto-factory complex, and maybe even a bit greasy. But it’s also soft, tender, and absolutely delightful on the inside —  and the crusty outside is actually the part you love best.

What is Detroit Deep Dish Pizza?

Detroit pizza is arguably one of the best foods in existence. Many pizza lovers (Detroiters and non-Michiganders alike) say that it’s the pinnacle of the pizza world. And to be entirely honest — they might just be right.

Its hallmark crispy cheese edges come from the trademark Detroit style pizza pan (which is, according to locals, a square and definitely not a rectangle). With small, thick-cut pepperoni cups bubbling on top of a light, airy crust, and topped with Wisconsin brick cheese, Detroit deep dish pizza is a succulent culinary masterpiece. And it tastes like buttah.

Oh, and we’d better not forget the ‘racing stripes’ — two or three lines of delicious tomato sauce ladled across the length of the pizza. Be careful  — don’t ever make the mistake of putting the sauce on before the cheese or pepperoni. That’s almost as sinful as drivin’ a Tie-ota.

How is Detroit Pizza made?

Like the original blue-collar men and women who enjoyed it, Detroit style pizza is uncomplicated and wholesome. If you use the right pan, good, hearty pepperoni, and the right kind of cheese, making Detroit deep dish pizza is a piece of, uh — well. You know.

Whip up your favorite dough and let it prove in the square Detroit pizza pan overnight — this is the easiest way to ensure that the dough gets into all the nooks and crannies, giving you those sought-after crunchy corners.

When the dough is ready, deflate it and start by laying down an evenly spaced layer of roni cups (thick-cut slices of small pepperoni). Next comes the cheese. Authentic Detroit style pie is made with Wisconsin brick cheese, but if this isn’t available, you can use a 50-50 blend of Mozzarella and Cheddar.

To get those corners golden-brown and crunchy, make sure to push the cheese all the way into the farthest reaches of the baking steel. Detroit pizza pans love to get up close and personal with the cheese.

Finish it off with 3 stripes of tomato sauce (if you’re using the traditional 10 x 14-inch pan) before putting it into a scorching hot oven. Detroit deep dish pizza comes out best when cooked at between 500 and 600℉. Home ovens can’t always reach such high temperatures, so we’ve found that the easiest way to do this at home is to use a pizza stone. 

*Pro Tip: Pizza stones can crack if they change temperature too quickly. To avoid this, you should:

  • Never put your pizza stone into a preheated oven
  • Always put your pizza stone into a cold oven and heat them together.
  • Let your pizza pan and pizza dough come up to room temperature outside of the refrigerator for 1 hour before putting them onto your pizza stone.

When the pie’s crust is golden and crisp, take it out of the oven and slip it onto a cooling rack — this stops the bottom from going soggy. After a few minutes, slice your Detroit style pie into 6 square pieces. No more. No less. 

Why is Detroit pizza square?

Detroit style pizza is every geometry teacher’s nightmare. Little pepperoni circles sit on square pizza slices cut from a rectangular pie. The baking steel used to make Detroit pizza is called square but is really rectangular. I guess it all boils down to the Math equation we used in grade-school to find the surface area of a circle (and I apologize in advance for this one):

Pies are squared.

What is a Detroit style pizza pan and how do I get one?

Few baking steels are as gritty and authentic as those of the Detroit pizza. The Detroit pie was originally baked in the ‘square’ 10 x 14-inch blue steel pans from the local auto factories. They were used by workers on the factory floors to store small industrial components, or as automotive drip trays. They still function as a kind of drip tray, but now they catch the delicious drips from little glistening cups full of meaty goodness.

A deep Detroit style pizza pan is what gives this type of pizza its personality — the deep, golden crust, the caramelized edges, and the distinctive square shape. As these baking steels age, they acquire their own personality and give each Detroit pizza a unique flavor — even if they’re made in Hell. No, really — It’s a real town in Michigan.

The original cold-rolled blue steel pans needed to be broken-in or seasoned, before they were used. If they didn’t undergo this time-consuming process, the pizza would stick, and the caramelized base would be lost. These days, an upgraded Detroit style pizza pan is pre-oiled and made from non-stick metal, which makes your homemade pizza mouth-wateringly crunchy right from the get-go — no seasoning necessary.

Make your own — in Motown or Monaco

The best part about Detroit deep dish pizza is that you can make it at home. If you only ever make one homemade pizza, this is the one to try. Pick up a Detroit style pizza pan and get in on the ‘Motor City Secret’. Yum.