About a year ago I had the opportunity to do a one-month stage in the kitchen at Grandma Bob’s, a cool new pizza restaurant in the hip Corktown neighborhood of Detroit. The kitchen was headed by Chef Dan, a pizza-enthusiast with a fine-dining background who perfected the subtle details of the hearty, cheesy, meaty Detroit Style square pie.
Cheese with a relatively high fat content gives those amazing crisp edges. The classic recipe uses Wisconsin Brick Cheese, but a 50/50 blend of shredded or diced Whole Milk and Part-Skim Mozzarella also does the trick (Polly-O is a good brand you can find in most big-box grocery stores).
You’re going to need a blue steel pan for this recipe….that is non-negotiable. This little pizza pan grabber tool also comes in handy so you can quickly grab the finished product from a ripping-hot convection oven.
And as with any good dough recipe, precise measurements by weight are crucial, so make sure you have a scale accurate to the gram. An overnight rise requires a little bit of planning, but once the dough and sauce is made, this becomes and easy thing to throw together any night of the week.
For the dough (makes three 8×10″ pies):
- 632 grams bread flour
- 430 grams spring water (or filtered tap water)
- 16 grams fine sea salt
- 8 grams sugar
- 11 grams fresh or dry yeast
- 27 grams olive oil
For the sauce:
- One 28-oz can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 TBSP dried oregano
- 1 TBSP fine sea salt
- 1 TBSP garlic powder
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 8 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, finely diced
- 8 oz whole milk mozzarella cheese, finely diced (blocks of Polly-O brand are great)
- 1 whole Italian sausage, de-cased, cooked, and crumbled
- Pepperoni (I like to use the whole sticks of Boar’s Head brand, sliced about 1/8″ thick)
- Mushrooms, jalapeños, green peppers, onions, or anything else your heart desires
- Grated parmesan and chopped fresh basil leaves to finish
- The day before, weigh out the yeast and water and mix thoroughly to dissolve most of the yeast. Weigh the flour, salt, and sugar and whisk to combine. Weigh out the olive oil and set aside.
- Add about half of the dry ingredients and half of the water-yeast mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Mix over low speed for 1 minute, then add the olive oil and the rest of the dry and wet ingredients. Mix over low speed for 2 minutes then up the speed to medium for about 4 minutes….you want the dough to have a nice smooth, springy texture and slap against the side of the bowl as it mixes.
- Raise the top of the mixer and let the dough sit there for a minute while you coat a medium mixing bowl with a splash of olive oil with your hands. Lift the dough from the mixer with your oily hands (this is a really sticky dough…the oil will help this step) and place in your oiled bowl. Add a tiny bit more oil to the top of your beautiful dough-ball and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temp for 2-3 hours then refrigerate overnight.
- For the sauce, combine ingredients in a blender and puree for 60 seconds. Transfer to a sauce pan and simmer over low heat for about an hour for sauce to thicken…you want it to be able to loosely coat a spoon…not too watery or overly thick. If you over-thicken it, just add a splash of water or stock to get the right consistency.
- Two hours before you’re ready to fire the pizza’s, remove dough from fridge. Transfer dough to a floured work surface and use a bench scraper to divide into three 375 gram balls. (365-385 grams is fine).
- Stretch one ball into the 8×10″ blue steel pan as much as you can…it won’t quite cling to the sides yet but as it rises a bit more and relaxes it will expand. If you have more than one blue steel pan, do the same with the rest of the dough, otherwise shape them into roughly the same size and let rest on a large sheet pan
- Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 1 hour, then stretch the dough in the blue steel pan a second time, this time trying to get it into the corners and all the edges without leaving the middle too thin. The edges should be slightly thicker, but this isn’t an exact science.
- Heat a convection oven to 525-550 F….I start at 550 because when you open the door it will quickly lose heat. If the top of the pizzas are starting look a little dark after 6-7 minutes, you can turn it down to 525…every oven is a bit different.
- Top your first pizza….layer on about 1/3 of a cup of the sauce, then add about a cup of cheese, biasing the cheese heavier around the edges and a little less on the interior. Add whatever other toppings you want.
- Add 1 cup of pizza sauce to a small sauce pan and set on low heat until warm but not bubbling.
- Transfer pizza to hot oven and set a timer for 12 minutes. After 6 minutes, check to make sure things are coming along nicely and nothing on top is burning. If it is, lower oven temp slightly. Check again at 11 minutes, and by 12-12.5 minutes you should have a nicely browned top and very dark edges as pictured above.
- Remove from oven with your pizza grabber tool or two dish towels and use a spatula to loosen the edges of the pie from the pan and scoop the whole thing onto a cutting board.
- Let rest for a couple minutes, then slice swiftly into 6 slices and top each slice with about 1 TBSP of the warm pizza sauce, then grated parmesan and basil.
- Transfer the next stretched dough ball into the blue steel pan and repeat process for additional pizzas.