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Cheese-Crowned Detroit-Style Pizza

Cheese-Crowned Detroit-Style Pizza

As its name suggests, Detroit-style pizza originated in the Motor City. As the story goes, sometime in 1946, Gus Guerra and Concetta “Connie” Piccinato started serving it at  Buddy’s Rendezvous. How exactly did the high-edged, forged-steel pans these pizzas have become associated with enter the picture? A matter of lore. It’s said they were originally used in local automotive plants.

However it came to be, this style’s soft base and frico (cheese crisp) crust was a hit. And while it took decades to reach prominence, the style (traditionally made with Wisconsin brick cheese) has taken off across America, turning heads beyond the States.

This recipe, first shared in the Ooni community group by Toronto-based recipe developer Annie Hung, is a simple at-home 85% hydration dough that guarantees a beautifully crisp cheese “crown,”. In Detroit, they use black anodized aluminum 8 x 10 or 10 x 14 (20 x 25 or 25 x 25cm) inch pans but you can use a baking pan (two to three inches deep) close in size to the one recommended below and be totally fine! With a pan-stretched dough and just toppings to prep day-of, it’s a great hands-off (and show-stopping!) recipe for entertaining family and friends. 

Yield
Makes 1 10x14” (25x 35cm) Detroit-style pizza 

Serves 2-4

Time
Total time: 16 hours 
Active time: 1 hour  

Equipment
10”x14”x2.5” Detroit-style pizza pan
Ooni Pizza Oven (gas-powered or with the gas burner attachment)
Ooni Infrared Thermometer
Blender or food processor

Ingredients
For the dough
255g room temperature tap water (85% hydration)
300g white bread flour
2g instant dry yeast
3g sugar
7g extra-virgin olive oil (plus extra for greasing)
3g sea salt

For the par-bake
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch dry oregano (optional)
1 clove fresh garlic, finely sliced (optional)
Pinch Kosher/flaked sea salt

For the toppings
400g can plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon tomato pesto (finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes)
24 slices pepperoni/ salami
200g low-moisture shredded mozzarella
30g white shredded Cheddar
30g Pecorino Romano

Method

  1. Mix the dough ingredients in a large bowl to form a shaggy dough. Cover and let rest for 1 hour.
  2. With wet hands, stretch and fold the dough onto itself in the bowl 6 to 8 times, rotating a quarter turn each time. Cover and rest for 1 hour. Repeat the stretch and fold 6 to 8 times for a total of 3 sets at 1 hour intervals. (Two sets would be adequate if you’re short on time).
  3. Place the dough into a well-oiled pan right after the last set of stretch and folds. Leave the pan in a closed conventional oven (turned off) with a bowl of ice to keep it cool. In the morning, the dough should more than double. 
  4. Fire up your gas-powered Ooni Pizza Oven on high for 10 minutes, aiming for 550 to 600°F (287 to 315°C).
  5. Generously drizzle olive oil on top of the risen dough. Dimple the dough with your fingers by poking the dough sporadically to the bottom of the pan. Add herbs, garlic and salt on top as desired.
  6. Turn the oven to its lowest setting and place the pan in the oven. Parbake for 5 minutes, turning halfway for an even cook. 
  7. Turn off the flames and cook in the residual heat for another 3 to 4 minutes until the base has set. 
  8. Remove the pan and return the oven to its highest setting. Preheat for 15 minutes and aim for 700°F (371°C).
  9. In a blender or food processor, blend the plum tomatoes and tomato pesto until a smooth purée forms. If you find the consistency too thin, simmer in a pan until it reduces to your desired thickness.
  10. On the parbaked crust, layer the meats, then top them with mozzarella, Cheddar, and grated Pecorino Romano. To create the cheese crown, place extra cheese high up along the edges. Top the pizza with three horizontal lines of tomato purée (roughly 8 tablespoons).
  11. Turn the oven to its lowest flame and place the pan inside. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning the pan every 30 seconds until evenly browned. 
  12. Remove the pan and gently loosen the edges with a fish spatula or a knife to keep the cheese crown intact. Transfer to a rack to cool for a few minutes before serving.
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