Detroit - the home of car manufacturing lays claim to the iconic Detroit Style Pan Pizza - called The Red Stripe. I love the backstory of this pie. A pan pizza, baked up in a heavy duty 9x13 pan that was originally manufactured with steel used to make car parts. That's ingenuity and it works!
What makes a Detroit Style Pan Pizza?
The signature characteristics of the Detroit Red Stripe are light and airy pizza crust, cubes of mozzarella, a zesty pizza sauce, and layers of pepperoni. Classic "no-fuss no-muss" ingredients, ideal for those who prefer a traditional style pizza.
Changing up the traditional pizza recipe.
The order of ingredients is a little different for this pizza. The cheese goes directly on the dough and the sauce is only placed in 2 lines going down the length of the pan. Then, the pepperoni is layered on top of the sauce. Finish it off with another sprinkle of cheese (and maybe a drizzle of olive oil) and bake it up. When it's sliced into squares, each square has a bite of cheesy dough with a bit of zesty sauce and pepperoni. It's anything but boring and it makes for a handsome pie.
A must for The Red Stripe.
There is a rule with the Detroit: make sure some of the mozzarella cubes are placed right up against the edge of the pan so the cheese can melt and bake down into the cracks. It creates an irresistible edge of crackly crispy cheese crust. I know what you're thinking - doesn't the cheese and dough stick to the edge of the pan? Like concrete? Not really. The recipe calls for olive oil to be liberally drizzled into the bottom of the baking pan. Pour some along the edges and corners, then once the dough is stretched the oil will create a non-stick type situation. After it's baked, just run a butter knife around the edge to loosen any little bits, and slide the pie out onto a cutting board.
One more tip about the cheese...
If you want to really up your pizza game there's another method you can use with this one. Just after you stretch out your pizza dough and you're ready to set it aside to rise, place half of the cheese cubes across the dough at this stage. Then let it rise. The dough will rise up and around the cheese, creating the most amazing texture of cheesy puffy dough. It's something to behold. I've carried this technique over into many of my other pies that need a bit of rising. It levels up the flavor and texture into something special.
What about that steel pan?
A Detroit Style Pizza Pan can be found online. I bought one but ruined it by accident. The one I bought couldn't be scratched and couldn't' be washed - and I did both. Which caused it to rust. So if you purchase one be sure to read the instructions and follow them.
But do you absolutely have to have the official Detroit Style Pan?
Nope. A heavy-duty 9x13 cake pan will work just fine. What's heavy-duty? Really any quality 9x13 cake pan, just not a thin aluminum one, or a disposable one, and not a glass one. You'll need the pan to retain the heat of the hot oven to get the edges and bottom crispy. Placing the pan in a pre-heated oven with pre-heated baking steel will also help. I use baking steels in my oven for all my pies, roasted veggies, pizzas and they make a world of difference in the end result. Not a must-have, but a nice to have. I'll link my favorite Baking Steel here - not sponsored, I just really like the product.
The right kind of dough for the pan pizza.
You can use any pizza dough for a Detroit Style as long as it's able to rise to about double before starting the toppings. This isn't a cracker-thin type of crust, nor is it a super thick and heavy Chicago pie style. It's a focaccia style crust, about 2 inches thick when baked that's crispy on the bottom but light and airy in the middle. Our local grocery stores sell this type of dough in the deli section. It smells yeasty and rises when baked. I'll also link a Master Pizza Dough Recipe here on my site. This is the dough I use for the Detroit Red Stripe (and any Detroit style), as well as other styles of pies and focaccia.
To wrap this up...
All of the steps of this pizza are easy - the rising just needs a bit of time. Start your pizza process a few hours before you plan to bake. It will probably take at least an hour (maybe more) to rise until double in size. Then on goes the toppings and bake it up!
Detroit Style Pan Pizza - The Red Stripe
- 9 x 13" baking pan
- 1 recipe pizza dough homemade or purchased
- 4-6 tbsp olive oil for drizzling in the bottom of the pan
- 16 ounces cubed mozarella Park skim or whole, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup parmesan shredded
- 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1 cup Pizza sauce homemade or purchased
- 1 cup sliced pepperoni
For the dough
- Liberally drizzle olive oil into the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan (cake pan).Place the pizza dough into the pan, stretching it to try and reach the edges and corners. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes in between stretches. If allowed to rest, it will stretch more easily. It might take 5 or 6 sessions of stretching. The oil will make it slick and this is what helps prevent sticking later on.Alternatively, you can stretch it by hand outside of the pan and place it in when it is nearly stretched to size. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and lay a dish towel over the top. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. The dough should be puffy and slightly bubbled. See below in the notes for an alternate step, if desired.
Preheat the oven to 450f about 45 minutes to an hour before you plan to bake the pizza. See notes about using a baking steel, stone, or spare cookie sheet (not a necessary thing but handy to have).
For the assembly
- Cube the mozarella into 1/2 inch cubes. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning over the dough, then scatter the cheese cubes across the surface, making sure some of the cheese rests in the edges along the pan. (See the blog post for an explanation).Sprinke 1/2 of the grated parmesan over the dough.
- Spoon on the sauce in 2 strips or lines horizonally.
- Layer the pepperoni down the center of the lines of sauce and sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan cheese.
- Bake in a preheated oven on a lower or center rack until the edges are bubbly, the bottom is crispy, and the top is golden brown. Check after 10 minutes of baking to see how it's coming along. Adjust the pizza by turning it or moving to a higher rack to ensure even baking. (see notes below)
- Remove from the oven and run a butter knife around the edge. Using a spatula gently shift the pizza around in the baking sheet to losen the bottom and sides. Ease the spatula under the pie as you tilt and slide it out onto a cutting board. Allow to cool a few minutes to set up, then slice into squares and enjoy!