~ Detroit-Style Brick Cheese & Pepperoni Pan Pizza ~
Pizza. It's one of my favorite foodie subjects. Next to a cheese shop, a pizza shop is one of my favorite places to hang out. Give me a slice and some suds and my day is made. I like thick pizza, thin pizza, round pizza and square pizza. I like pizza with just sauce and cheese, or, piled high with a melange of toppings. I like white pizza and stuffed pizza too. "No matter how you slice it, I've never met a pizza I didn't like", is one of my favorite sayings. There's more. I get downright giddy when I come across a new-to-me pizza -- one I've never heard of. That happened four days ago. I came across a recipe for Detroit-style pizza, so, on Amazon, I ordered the "special" cheese, and, the "special" pans too. The cheese arrived yesterday, the pans today.
Detroit-Style Pizza = A Rectangular, Deep-Deep-Dish, Pan Pizza. Detroit-Style Pizza = A Descendant of Sicilian-Style Pizza.
The history of Detroit-style pizza is a tale about a man and his (idea of a) pizza pan, and, pizza-loving residents of the Motor City have been fighting over a corner slice of this pizza since 1946. Gus Guerra, owner of a neighborhood bar, Buddy's Rendezvous, decided to "throw" his wife Anna's mother's Sicilian-style pizza dough into a unique, rectangular-shaped, deep-sided, blue-steel pan that was originally used to hold auto parts. Topped with pepperoni, Wisconsin brick cheese and sauce (in that order), Gus's pizza emerged with a thick, soft, airy crust with a crispy exterior and caramelized edges. It would soon be affectionately named Detroit Pizza. The legend is that Gus was given his initial pans from a friend and customer who worked in an auto factory.
Brick cheese is white to pale yellow in color and can range from sweet, buttery and mild when young, to strong, sharp and savory when aged. It melts great, which means it can be used in a wide variety of dishes. For starters, it goes great with crackers and fruit. It's the kind of cheese you want on your pizza, in your mac n' cheese, in your grilled-cheese sandwich, and, potatoes gratin (scalloped potatoes).
Detroit-Style Pizza is all about the pan man -- the "man pan"!!!
Lloyd Pans & Kitchenware, a Wisconsin-based company, manufacturers several styles of pans for pizzerias all over the world, including all of the top 10 pizza chains in the USA. Their pans revolutionized how pizzas are baked -- their pans improve the quality of the pizza by providing the ability to achieve excellent results by all who use them. From thin crust to pan pizza, deep dish and flatbread, their pans make great pizza. They require no seasoning, minimal or no oiling, and, the permanent, Dura-Kote, easy-release finish, safe to 700° F., will never flake or chip off.
Admittedly, mine does not have the classic charred edges of a Detroit pizza -- I don't like charred cheese -- or anything, so, please excuse me if I didn't spread the cheese cubes to the point of touching the sides of the pan so they would melt and burn to make and bake a pizza I wouldn't eat for the sake of a few photos.
My Detroit-style pizza is simply deep golden, just the way I like it. That said, everything else about my pizza is "as it should be". My crust is crunchy on the outside and light and airy on the inside. It is layered in the the traditional manner too: sliced pepperoni first, cheese cubes second, and sauce third. There's more: It's got just enough of the mandatory spicy pepperoni and pepperoni-grease layer below the buttery, rich taste of Wisconsin's one-and-only brick cheese (not to mention my homemade, spicy and garlicy pizza sauce). Please: Feel free spread that cheese to the edges of the pan if it is a classic, charred-around-the-edges pizza you crave!
Making the dough, assembling & baking two pizzas.
I love my recipe for Sicilian-style pizza dough. Sometimes I mix it by hand, sometimes I make it in the food processor, and, other times, like today, I use my bread machine. That said, I never change the recipe. It's foolproof. The best way I can describe the crust of a Sicilian pizza is: It is thicker and breadier than Neapolitan-stype pizza. The dough, which is proofed twice, the second time in the pan, gets a crispy, almost "fried" bottom due to an ample amount of oil in the pan -- yes, this is a pizza that gets baked in the pan. In Sicily, it's called sfincione, which means "thick sponge", as the dough absorbs a bit of the oil on its bottom and a bit of sauce on its top.
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, Italian seasoning and cracked black pepper
1 packet granulated dry yeast
2-4 additional tablespoons olive oil, for preparing baking pans
1/2 pound pepperoni, sliced into 1/8"-thick coins, 24 slices per pie
1 1/2 pounds 1/2" cubed brick cheese, 12 ounces per pie
2 cups pizza sauce, preferably homemade (Note: My recipe for ~ Preschutti Pizza, Part I: Our Favorite Sauce ~, is in Categories 8, 12, or 22.)
a sprinkling of dried oregano
~ Step 1. To prepare the dough, place all of the items in pan of bread machine in the order listed, except for the yeast. Using your index finger, make a small indentation ("a well") on top of the dry ingredients, but not so deep that it reaches the wet layer. Place the yeast into the indentation. Insert the pan into the bread machine, plug the machine in, press the "Select" button, choose the "Pizza Dough" cycle, then press "Start". You will have 2 pounds of dough, proofed once and ready to use, in about 55 minutes.
~ Step 4. Place/arrange 24 slices of pepperoni on top of each crust. Sprinkle 12 ounces of cheese cubes on top of the pepperoni on each pie. Set aside 1 hour, to give the crusts time to rise for the second time. Using a tablespoon, dollop sauce over the top of each pie, about 3/4-1 cup per pie (I like to put a dollop of top of each slice of pepperoni). Do not spread the sauce around. Sprinkle with oregano.
~ Step 5. Bake pizzas, one-at-a-time on center rack of preheated 375° oven, 20-22 minutes, or until bubbling and golden on top (and slightly charred around the edges if the cheese cubes have been spread to touch the edges of the pan as discussed above). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Using a large spatula placed under one side of the pie, gradually tip the pan and guide/slide the pizza onto a wire rack to cool about 5-6 minutes prior to slicing and serving.
Going into preheated 375° oven to bake 20-22 minutes:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; paring knife; 2-cup measuring container; bread machine; 2, 14" x 10" Detroit-style pizza pans; paper towels; wire cooling rack(s)
Cook's Note: For another truly unique deep-dish pizza that also requires a special pan and a specific type of dough to make the crust, ~ My Second-City Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza ~ recipe can be found in Categories 2, 17 or 19.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)