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.