Detroit-Style Pizza Dough - Modernist Cuisine

Detroit-Style Pizza Dough

Recipe • January 31, 2022

You can’t talk about Detroit-style pizza without talking about cheese. The crust has the light, airy crumb and crispy bottom characteristic of all the bread-like pizza crusts. What differentiates a Detroit-style pizza is that the edge of the dough is bordered with cheese, applied so that it comes right up against the sides of the baking pan. In the oven, the cheese melts and bakes into a golden-brown, crunchy crust. The best pieces to get are the corners since they have two crispy sides to them, but the center ones are still plenty delicious.

And not any cheese will do. For a traditional Detroit-style experience, it has to be Wisconsin brick cheese mixed in equal parts with pizza cheese or cheddar cheese. Wisconsin brick cheese has a rich flavor best described as being like melted butter. If you can’t find brick cheese, use a combination of white cheddar and mozzarella.

While the other bread-like pizza doughs require a preferment, our Detroit-style master dough can be made from start to finish on the day you want your pizza. After being mixed to nearly full gluten development, it gets two 15-minute bench rests separated by a four-edge fold. This allows the gluten strands to relax, making it easier to fit the dough into the pan. This is also the only one of our bread-like pizzas that is baked to order—all the others are baked ahead and then reheated—but this one can also be easily reheated with positive results.

Another distinguishing characteristic of Detroit-style pizza is the inclusion of semolina flour (about 15%) along with the bread flour, which adds flavor, gives the dough a nice color, and makes it a bit easier to handle since semolina contains less gluten-forming proteins. Because this is a “day of” or direct dough, with instant yeast the only leavener, we kick-start its fermentation in two ways: by adding a lot more yeast (0.9%) and by increasing the water temperature to 30–30.5°C / 85–87°F (versus the usual 21°C / 70°F). You typically sacrifice some flavor with a faster fermentation, but that is not the case with this dough.


Tips and Substitutions

  • We recommend using Ceresota/Heckers Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. Note that they call their flour all-purpose, but the protein content places it in the bread flour category.
  • The 1 kg yield of the base recipe is not enough for the dough hook to catch all the ingredients and mix a uniform dough in an 8 qt bowl.
  • If the ingredient quantities aren’t large enough for the dough hook to mix them well in a stand mixer or commercial planetary mixer, use a paddle attachment initially to mix the ingredients uniformly. Once you have a homogeneous mass (the dough is sticky and wet, and there are no visible clumps or unincorporated water), switch to a hook attachment.
  • The larger the yield, the longer the dough will take to mix. Final mix time at higher speeds may vary from machine to machine. Whatever the model and yield, the goal is to achieve a good mix and nearly full gluten development. Consider our suggested times as guidelines only. Use the windowpane test to help determine the dough’s stage of gluten development.
  • When you divide the dough, try to keep the pieces as rectangular as possible.
  • For the large pizzas, we use full-sized Detroit pans measuring 35 cm by 25 cm / 14 in by 10 in. The small pizzas are made in half-sized Detroit pans measuring 25 cm by 20 cm / 10 in by 8 in. Our pans are made from blue steel.