Detroit Style “Red Top” Pizza

Posted on

Detroit Style "Red Top" Pizza

Detroit Red Top Pizza is an amazing thing, especially if you love burnt cheese as much as I do. This pizza is encrusted with cheese, purposely pressed against the sides of a butter coated pan to achieve that crusty goodness. Ridiculous. 

Detroit Style "Red Top" Pizza

The pizza is baked without any sauce, and then ladled with hot red sauce when it emerges from the oven. It is so good.

Evidently, Detroit style “red top” pizza originated in the 1940s by Gus, the owner of Buddy’s Pizza. The cheeses are a combination of white cheddar and brick cheese, pressed against a buttered industrial blue steel pan originally used to clean factory tools in high pressure ovens. It’s a take on Sicilian style pizza, with a Detroit personality.

It’s outrageous.

Once I discovered this pizza, I had to have the pan, even though I’m pretty sure any 10 inch by 14 inch metal pan would work (or if you are good at geometry, a metal pan with an “area” of about 140 square inches). I’m kind of obsessed about such things. I found the pan on this Detroit Style Pizza site. I’m pretty sure that you don’t need it, but… why not? Right?

Detroit Style "Red Top" Pizza

I had never heard of this style of pizza until I came across the recipe in Tony Gemignani’s amazing book, The Pizza Bible. I immediately had to make it. Tony describes it as the “rising star of the pizza business.”

Detroit Style "Red Top" Pizza

The recipe calls for brick and cheddar cheeses. I was not able to find brick cheese, so I substituted Monterey Jack for it.

Note: The recipe also calls for two pizza stones. While the method is really helpful in simulating a pizzeria oven, it is less essential with this pizza. If you only have one stone, just place it on the bottom rung, and move the pizza to a different spot on the stone when it’s time to move the pizza.

The dough recipe is enough for two pizzas. I made one Detroit style pizza and one traditional round pizza. We sliced leftovers of this pizza into breadsticks, heated them in the toaster oven, and dipped them in hot pizza sauce for a pretty amazing leftover pizza for breakfast.

This month, the #TwelveLoaves theme is RED. We were only limited by our imagination, so after the recipe, check out what the other bakers created for this month’s theme.

Detroit Style “Red Top” Pizza Recipe

Pizza Dough (makes two pizza crusts)

4.5 grams (1 1/2 tsp) instant or active dry yeast

70 grams (1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp) warm water

453 grams (3 1/2 cups) high protein flour. I used 423 grams of bread flour plus 30 grams of vital wheat gluten. 

9 grams (1 tablespoon) diastatic malt or 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup

225 grams (3/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons) ice water

9 grams (2 tsp) salt

5 grams (1 tsp) extra virgin olive oil. 

  1. Whisk the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour and malt powder (if you are using the syrup, add it to the ice water)
  3. While the mixer is running on low, slowly add the ice water, and then the water yeast mixture. Continue to mix on low for one minute. Add the salt and mix for one minute more. 
  4. Add the oil and mix for 1 to 2 minutes more. 
  5. Increase the speed to the second speed and mix the dough for another 2 minutes. Scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface, and knead by hand for about 30 to 60 seconds. 
  6. Cover the dough with a damp cloth, and let rest for 1 hour. 
  7. Lift the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix on low for about 30 seconds to degas the dough. Alternatively, you can knead by hand to form a compact piece of dough. 
  8. Cut a 625 gram (22 ounce) piece of dough for the Detroit pizza and form it into a tight ball (also form the rest of the dough into a tight ball). Place each ball onto a plate and tightly wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. 

For the Pizza

625 grams (22 ounces) pizza dough

2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

7 ounces (200 grams/2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

7 ounces (200 grams/2 cups) white Cheddar cheese

2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

Grated Pecorino Romano cheese and dried oregano for sprinkling

  1. Bring the dough out of the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about an hour, until it reaches about 50 degrees F. 
  2. Spread the butter over a 10 inch by 14 inch Detroit pizza pan (or a cake pan with similar dimensions). Spread the olive oil over the butter.
  3. Place the dough in the pan and turn it over to coat both “sides” of the dough with oil. 
  4. With your fingertips, press the dough to push it outward, making sure the dough is evenly distributed in the pan. Cover the dough and let it sit for 30 minutes. Push the dough again with your fingertips so that the dough reaches the corners of the pan. Cover, and let rest for 60 to 90 minutes. 
  5. Place two pizza stones in the oven, one on the bottom rung, and one in the top third of your oven (see note above). Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. 
  6. Place the pan on the top stone and bake for 6 minutes. Remove it from the oven and sprinkle the Jack cheese over the top of the dough, covering it completely from edge to edge. Stack all but 1/4 cup of the Cheddar cheese along the edges of the dough against the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the rest of the Cheddar over the top of the dough. 
  7. Return the pan to the top stone and bake for 7 minutes. Move the pan to the bottom stone, rotating it 180 degrees. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes more. In the meantime, bring the tomato sauce to a simmer. 
  8. Remove the pizza from the pan with a metal spatula. You may have to chisel the cheese from sides of the pan. Place the pizza on a cutting board and cut it into quarters. 
  9. Over each piece of pizza, ladle two stripes of tomato sauce and then sprinkle with the Pecorino Romano and dried oregano. 
Recipe adapted from The Pizza Bible, an amazing collection of pizzas from across America and around the world. If you get the book, be sure to check it against the errata page. Editing is not what it used to be. 

For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month’s mouthwatering selection of #TwelveLoaves enter last month’s breads featuring a “new to you” type of flour!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *