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Sourdough Detroit-style Pizza

Rosehill Sourdough’s Sourdough Detroit-style Pizza

Regional styles have been one of the biggest pizza trends in recent years, and it’s hard to think of one that’s gotten more attention than Detroit-style squares. Pan-baked with cheese bubbling along the rim to form a crispy, salty crunch, this style of pizza is all about contrast: cheesy center, cheese cracker frico edge, and a concentrated salty cheese flavour that accents a sweet and tangy sauce—all started by Gus Guerra and Concetta “Connie” Piccinato in 1946 at Buddy’s Rendezvous in Detroit, a worthy pilgrimage for any pan pizza lover. There are many recipes for Detroit-style pizza, but this overnight cold-proof approach comes from Ooni's sourdough specialist, Mike Vaona.

Rather than use commercial yeast, the traditional leavening for Detroit-style pizza (aka “DSP”), Mike favours sourdough for its ease of digestion, thick, airy crumb, and the extra flavour it adds. This recipe employs a slow-rise method, which just means allowing the dough to build its structure over a longer fermentation period. Because of this, you’ll need to do a bit of planning. For starters, you’ll want to consider the time needed to cold-ferment the dough and let it rise at room temperature, as well as an active culture, fed at least six hours before prepping your dough.

If that sounds complicated, don’t worry… it’s not. It’s just a matter of timing, balancing the need to let the dough do its thing against your target meal time. Why the cold-proof in the fridge? It helps slow the fermentation down while building flavour and structure. It’s also thought to help make key nutrients such as iron, zinc and magnesium easier for your body to absorb. Cheesy, airy, crispy, crunchy — this sourdough DSP is a flavourful pie that’s worth the wait. Put in the time, sit back and wait, and trust us. We know. Mike cooks for us — you won’t be disappointed.

Feed your culture 6 to 12 hours before you want to prep your dough.

Prepare the dough 18 to 34 hours before you want to bake pizza. It takes 5 hours to make the dough, at least an 8-hour (and up to 24-hour) rest in the fridge, and then a 5-hour rest on the counter right before baking.

One 10x14-inch Detroit-style pizza
76% hydration dough

Start to finish: 40 to 46 hours (Active time: approximately 1-2 hours)

Ooni pizza oven
Ooni Cast Iron Skillet Pan
Ooni Infrared Thermometer
10x14-inch rectangle pizza pan

For the feed
19 grams sourdough culture
38 grams water
38 grams bread flour (12.7% gluten)

For the dough
332 grams warm water
13 grams salt
13 grams olive oil, plus extra for greasing the pan
76 grams peaked sourdough culture
436 grams bread flour

For the bake
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the toppings
A classic Detroit-style pizza often features tomato sauce, brick cheese (a medium-soft, pale yellow or whitish cheese made in Wisconsin and noted for its mild, sweet flavour) and pepperoni. Brick cheese can be difficult to find outside the American Midwest, but you can substitute Monterey Jack or a mild white cheddar to delicious effect. Feel free to experiment with similar low-moisture cheeses or apply your favorite toppings.

100 grams brick cheese, cubed
100 grams mozzarella cheese, shredded
15 to 20 pepperoni slices
150 grams classic pizza sauce

Optional garnishes
fresh basil
pecorino or Grana Padano, grated


Feeding the starter
In a clean jar, add the culture, water and bread flour. Stir to combine. Let the jar sit on the counter with a loose lid until it peaks. (‘Peaking’ is when the culture rises to double or more its original height 6-12 hours after feeding; how long this takes will depend on the ambient temperature in your kitchen.)

Making the dough
In a medium bowl, combine the water, salt and oil. Add the sourdough culture and mix until the water turns milky in color. Add the flour and mix until just combined (until you cannot see any dry flour). Cover the dough with a damp towel or unsealed lid and let it rest somewhere warm for an hour.

Any remaining culture can be fed for future use. You won’t need anymore for this recipe.

After an hour, perform a series of stretch-and-folds on the dough, stopping when the dough is smooth. This will begin to build structure in the dough and establish a "smooth" side and a "seam" side for future folds. Using slightly wet hands, pinch the edge of the dough in the one o’clock position between your thumb, index, and middle fingertips down to your second knuckle, then pull the edge a bit (stretch) and fold over the top of the dough, past the center, and release. Turn the bowl less than a quarter turn and repeat. Do this about 10 times, until the dough starts to take shape. Flip the dough over so that the seam side is down and the smooth side is up, return the dough to the bowl, and cover and rest for one hour.

Coil fold the dough. With wet hands, gently pull the dough up from the middle underneath the dough, allowing one side of it to unstick from the bowl and fold onto itself. Rotate a quarter turn and repeat. Keep turning and rotating for 4 total folds. Repeat the whole process a couple of times until the dough comes together, but before it tears. Cover and leave somewhere warm for one hour.

Set a timer for 4 hours. At the end of every hour, repeat the coil fold process. Leave dough covered somewhere warm between sets.

After the last fold, place the covered bowl in the refrigerator to rest for at least 8 hours (and up to 24). (It’s best to cold proof in the bowl rather than in the pan to prevent sticking.)

Baking the pizza
When you’re ready to bake, lightly and thoroughly coat your pan with butter, then chill the pan for 5 minutes. Once the butter has solidified, add a light, even coating of olive oil on top.

Remove the dough from the fridge, and gently perform a final coil fold before placing it in the pan, smooth side down.

Cover the pan with a damp towel and rest the dough on the counter for 4 to 6 hours, or until it reaches room temperature.

Fire up your Ooni pizza oven, aiming for 375°C (700°F) on the baking stone inside.

When the oven is preheated, uncover the dough and drizzle with olive oil. Firmly dimple the dough using wet hands.

Cooking with wood or charcoal: Bake using only hot coals or a very low flame. When the pizza is in the oven, close the chimney baffle to keep the flame low. When the pizza is out of the oven, reopen the chimney to reheat the stone.

Cooking with propane: When the pizza is in the oven, turn the flame to low (or even off completely), and rely on residual heat. When the pizza is out of the oven, turn the flame to high to reheat the stone.

Cover the pan with metal foil and bake for 13 minutes, turning once halfway through. Using gloves, carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and transfer to a heat-proof surface.

Cover the top of the dough with a bit of melted butter, then add your toppings. Add the cubed cheese in a checkerboard pattern across the base, then scatter the shredded mozzarella, making sure to reach all the way to the edges. Add the sliced pepperoni, and finish with three horizontal lines (or “racing stripes”) of sauce over the top.

Bake uncovered for roughly 10 minutes, turning as needed until the toppings are fully cooked.

Retrieve the pizza. Using a spatula, carefully lift the pizza out of the pan and transfer to a metal surface or cutting board. Garnish with fresh basil or grated pecorino and slice into 6 or 8 squares. Serve and enjoy!

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