Foodstuff: Motor City Munchies |

Foodstuff: Motor City Munchies

A delectable day trip to Detroit (sort of)

Katherine Roberts
Mushroom and pepperoni homemade Detroit style pizza.
Katherine Roberts / Courtesy photo

I was at dinner with a large group the other night, and a very important subject came up. It also happens to be something I’m a lifelong, self-taught expert on.


There are, figuratively speaking, a million ways to have it. New York-style, Chicago deep dish, Chicago tavern-style, Quad Cities-style, St. Louis-style, pan, Sicilian, and my latest love: Detroit-style. When I have a hankering for the good stuff, I head south to Redstone and dig in at Propaganda Pie. I always order the double pepperoni (formally called “Rollin’ with my Ronies”) and the chicken parmesan sandwich, eat half of each, and take the rest home, as the leftovers stand up.

One recent weekend, I was distressed to learn Highway 133 was closed for winter weather road conditions. Obsessed, hungry, and unable to get to Redstone, I pulled the Detroit-style pans my brother had given me for Christmas out of the cabinet (We give one another very specific food-related gifts, what can I tell you?).

The author with an embarrassing amount of cheese, ordered from the internet.
Katherine Roberts / Courtesy photo

But the pans weren’t the only crucial specialty item I needed. The thing that really makes Detroit-style sing is the Wisconsin brick cheese, which I absolutely could not find in the valley. Yes, I am a person who orders a five-pound block of cheese from the internet (worth it!). Within a week, excessive cheese in hand, I embarked on this journey to The Mitten in my home kitchen. I made my own sauce and dough, referencing several different recipes (The Food Network and Serious Eats, specifically) and researched at least five pounds’ of cheese worth of tips on the internet. I also made six different pizzas, adjusting for altitude before getting it right; the below is an amalgam of all recipes and experimentation.


Serves 4-6

For the Dough
2 ½ to 3 cups bread flour

7g instant yeast (usually one packet, or one heaping teaspoon)

1 ½t table salt

1 cup minus 1 ½t water

Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

I have a stand mixer, so I used this method:

Combine flour, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.

Stir to combine, then add water.

Mix on low speed until dough comes together into a rough ball, then shut off mixer, and let rest for 10 minutes. Continue mixing at medium-low speed until dough forms a smooth, silky ball, about 10 minutes longer (It should stick to the bottom of the bowl as it kneads rather than riding around the edges).

Remove dough hook, form dough into a tight ball, set in the bottom of the mixer bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place until dough has doubled in volume, about two hours.

Pour a couple tablespoons olive oil in the bottom of a Detroit-style anodized aluminum pan or two 8- by 8-inch cake pans (Split dough in half if using cake pans). Transfer dough to pan(s), and turn to coat in oil. Press down on dough, and spread it toward the edges. You won’t be able to get it all the way to the edges; this is okay.

Spread it as much as you can without tearing, then cover tightly in plastic, and set aside for 30 minutes to allow dough to relax. Return to dough, and stretch it out again. It should be able to reach the edges this time; if not, let it rest a little more, and try again. To get the dough to stay in the corners, stretch it up beyond the corners, so that it pulls back into place. Once dough is stretched, cover again, and set aside while you make the sauce.

For the sauce (yields enough sauce for two batches of pizza):

1T olive oil

2t dried Italian seasoning 

2 cloves garlic, minced 

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 

2t sugar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a small saucepot over medium heat, and add the oil. Add the Italian seasoning and garlic, and sauté until fragrant; do not let the garlic burn. Add the tomatoes and sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, and simmer until concentrated, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Detroit-style pizza in progress.
Katherine Roberts / Courtesy photo

Assembling the pizza

Preheat oven to 550° or as hot as your oven will get. Chop 16 ounces of brick cheese into small, ½-inch cubes. Top prepared dough with cheese, spreading cheese all the way to the edge of the pan, and add other toppings as desired (I chose pepperoni and mushrooms for this experiment).

Bake 12-15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and has formed a dark golden crust around the edges of the pan. Pull from oven, and top with two vertical rows of prepared sauce. Remove from pan with a spatula, let cool for five minutes, cut and serve.

This recipe has many steps. It will likely set off your smoke alarm 400 times. It’s not for the impatient, and it’s not as good as Propaganda Pie, but as winter continues to maintain a tight grip on our neck of the woods, it’s a cozy, cold-weather project worth a try.

Katherine Roberts is a mid-Valley based writer and marketing professional who firmly believes even bad pizza makes a good meal. She can be reached via her marketing and communications firm, Carington Creative, at

Detroit style pizza
Katherine Roberts / Courtesy photo
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