Author Topic: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?  (Read 2826 times)

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Offline wahoo88

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While I try to source materials for my outdoor oven, I've been experimenting with Sicilian pizza, as its lower bake temperatures pose no equipment problems for me.  At this point, I'm very happy with my Sicilian pies, and don't think I'll be changing much about them.  I wouldn't say I've mastered the Sicilian, but I'm ready to try a riff on the style as I am now comfortable with fattier doughs and baking in steel.  Obviously, I have seen many of the Detroit style pizza threads here but I'm interested in trying a true Detroit style attempt myself.  My question is: what are the key differences between Sicilian and Detroit style? I'm familiar, of course, with the sauce applied post-bake and the cheese dripping down the sides of the pan, but what are the key sauce, cheese, and dough formulation discrepancies between the two styles?  Are there any major structural differences that I'm unaware of?  I'm sure there are numerous threads with detailed recipes, but I'm looking for a more general or philosophical description of Detroit style.

I can't give my Sicilian dough recipe as I don't have a scale and mainly work by feel, but I use KAAP, decent amounts of EVOO, no sugar, and a 1 day cold ferment, always in bulk as I only make one pie at a time. Thanks.


Offline Tscarborough

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2013, 11:25:08 PM »
I think it is the placement of the meats under the cheese primarily.  Sicilian can be made by mixing up the cheese, meats, vegetables and sauce and applying the goo in a layer, while Detroit lays down the meat under the cheese, and usually adds the sauce either post bake or near the end.

Edit- After a closer reading, I have used doughs that were intended for various styles of pizza to make Detroit and they all seem to work.  The only dough I make that I have not used for Detroit would be a Caputo based Neapolitan dough.  I see no reason why it would not work though.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2013, 11:26:58 PM by Tscarborough »

Offline Ev

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2013, 07:49:44 AM »
I'd say the biggest difference is in the dough. DS seems to come out better with a higher hydration dough, in the 68-70% range. That's what gives it the nice light airy texture.  No oil.  Also, typically no mozz., but rather either Brick, if you can find it, or mild white cheddar. 

Offline jeffereynelson

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2013, 04:35:35 PM »
I was watching reruns of that show Pizza Cuz last night and they went to Buddy's in Detroit which is credited with the creation of Detroit style pizza. They just said they used Buddy's Grandmas Sicilian pizza recipe to make pizza and people started calling it Detroit style. I don't think there was any difference to start.

Offline wahoo88

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2013, 05:53:03 PM »
Alright. Thanks for the responses guys.  I'm beginning to get the impression that Detroit style is less about the ingredients, and more about a certain style of presentation.  That doesn't make crispy cheese edges any less tasty though. :D

Offline Tubaguy63

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2013, 09:58:50 PM »
Detroit style is partially influenced by topping placement but mostly defined by the blue steel pans used. In the last 5 years, there has been a run on the pans. The primary manufacturer went out of business and a lot of the local shops have been scrambling to find a similar replacement. Buddy's and some of the older pizzarias have an advantage because their pans have been seasoned over the years. The original buddy's supposedly has the best pizzas because their oven is seasoned more than other locations.

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2013, 10:32:52 PM »
Detroit style is partially influenced by topping placement but mostly defined by the blue steel pans used. In the last 5 years, there has been a run on the pans. The primary manufacturer went out of business and a lot of the local shops have been scrambling to find a similar replacement. Buddy's and some of the older pizzarias have an advantage because their pans have been seasoned over the years. The original buddy's supposedly has the best pizzas because their oven is seasoned more than other locations.
Wonder if you could "pre-season" even a new oven by tossing a couple handfuls of sauce soaked cheese onto the decks every night at closing time for a couple months, scrape it clean next day.  ???
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Offline wahoo88

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2013, 11:49:22 AM »
Wonder if you could "pre-season" even a new oven by tossing a couple handfuls of sauce soaked cheese onto the decks every night at closing time for a couple months, scrape it clean next day.  ???

Haha.  I can't help but think that the old shops over-hype the importance of seasoned blue steel pans.  It's the one element that they can claim they have the advantage over as compared to home cooks.

Offline norma427

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2013, 12:41:42 PM »
I noticed on my steel pans for a Buddy's clone pizza that once in awhile the a little seasoning will come off on the bottom of the steel pan.  I also noticed the same thing when a pizzeria that sells Detroit style pizzas showed me their pans.  I think the hydration, tempering of the dough in combination with the seasoned steel pan is what makes it all work.  Even the bigger steel pans make the same pizza, except there isn't as much of the caramelized edges.  I have played around with Jet's pizza attempts too and my attempts weren't the same as they are for a Detroit style pizza.

The ovens that are used at Buddy's are conveyor ovens. 

Norma
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Offline gschwim

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2013, 10:57:39 PM »
Detroit style pizza tastes better.

Gene


Offline D C

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2013, 08:40:25 AM »
I'm interested to hear the answer seeing as how I've lived within 50 miles of downtown Detroit for 40+ years and never knew there was a "Detroit Style" pizza until I found this forum!  :-D


Offline Skee

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2013, 10:00:00 AM »
I'm interested to hear the answer seeing as how I've lived within 50 miles of downtown Detroit for 40+ years and never knew there was a "Detroit Style" pizza until I found this forum!  :-D
So when you went out for pizza, what were you looking for?  Round or Square?  Deep-dish or thin crust?  Sauce on top or under cheese?

Offline D C

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2013, 05:47:39 PM »
So when you went out for pizza, what were you looking for?  Round or Square?  Deep-dish or thin crust?  Sauce on top or under cheese?

The vast majority of pizza that I have had in my life has been round.   From the Dino's Pizza at Inkster & Joy in Redford back in the 70's to the crappy stuff that Domino's tries to pass off today, and every mom & pop place in between that's come & gone in between....round, relatively thin crust, seldom a deep dish, and the deep dish that were around were billed as Chicago-style, including Pizza Papalis.  With the exception of the Chicago Style, they all have gone sauce, cheese, toppings.  Of course there are the likes of Pizza Hut & other chains selling deep dish.

Frankly, the more I think about it, the more I tend to believe that there is no such thing as Detroit Style as a distinct variety.


Offline Skee

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2013, 05:53:34 PM »
Frankly, the more I think about it, the more I tend to believe that there is no such thing as Detroit Style as a distinct variety.
I can see how someone living in a big city might not eat at the relatively small number of places making Detroit Style - it's like someone proclaiming pulled pork to be "Austin Style Barbecue" even though the majority of BBQ in town is beef.  But have you ever eaten at Buddy's or Jet's?

Offline D C

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2013, 09:32:50 PM »
I can see how someone living in a big city might not eat at the relatively small number of places making Detroit Style - it's like someone proclaiming pulled pork to be "Austin Style Barbecue" even though the majority of BBQ in town is beef.  But have you ever eaten at Buddy's or Jet's?

I've had both of them a good number of times.  Frankly, I see nothing style-wise that's notably different from other "deep dish" pizzas from any other chain.  The Wikipedia article on Detroit Style pizza (though I hate referencing wikipedia) even mentions Pizza Papalis and Little Caesars, which are pretty much polar opposites of each other in the realm of deep dish pizzas.

Offline Skee

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2013, 12:00:19 PM »
I've had both of them a good number of times.  Frankly, I see nothing style-wise that's notably different from other "deep dish" pizzas from any other chain.  The Wikipedia article on Detroit Style pizza (though I hate referencing wikipedia) even mentions Pizza Papalis and Little Caesars, which are pretty much polar opposites of each other in the realm of deep dish pizzas.
As a pizza lover from an area that, until recently, had no stores (chain or otherwise) selling anything that meets the "standard" definition of Detroit Style, I can tell you that a square, high-hydration Sicilian, with cheese covering the entire surface and sauce on top, was a revelation.  As an adult, I've lived in San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, and Austin and eaten pizza all over the country, and never run into DS anywhere.  And none of my friends have either - it's a completely new thing to us in a town where "deep-dish" always means Chicago Style.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2013, 01:06:00 PM »
I don't know the origins of the appellation "Detroit-style" pizza, but when I was researching that style, I came across a surprisingly high percent of articles that featured the role that Buddy's has played over the years in supporting Detroit and its many charitable causes and the communities where it serves. I was looking for information on the Buddy's dough and other ingredients used to make its pizza but it seemed every time I turned around the articles were about Buddy's and its owner Robert Jacob's philanthropy. I was researching Loui's, Shield's, Cloverleaf and Detroit Style Pizza Co as well, but I saw nowhere near the same philanthropy as with Buddy's and Robert Jacobs. Philanthropy is always good for business, and while an estimated Buddy's annual sales of around 20M can support generous charitable contributions, in Robert Jacob's case the philanthropy seemed to be sincere and a genuine part of his makeup and personality. It occurs to me that with all the attention and press that Buddy's and Robert Jacobs got over the years, including comparisons to Buddy's competitors, it would have made sense for writers and other media people to come up with a name to attach to the types of pizzas that Jacobs and its competitors in the Detroit area were making. Since Buddy's and its competitors were uniquely Detroit area companies, maybe the name "Detroit-style" was the perfect name. A generic name would have made little sense, and especially so with people in the media charged with writing about Buddy's. It also gave others outside of the Detroit area a name to use to promote that style and to leverage off of all the fame and notoriety of that style that goes back to the 1940s.

As is discussed in the article at http://www.freep.com/article/20130331/ENT08/303310184/Detroit-style-pizza-gaining-fame-winning-fans-nationwide, when the Hunt brothers left the Detroit area to seek fame and fortune in Austin, TX, they debated on whether to make a play on the Detroit-style name when they started their "Detroit-style" pizza business in Austin. I met Zane and Brandon Hunt recently at Craig's TX Summit, and while we had a lot of discussion on what they were doing, it never occurred to me to ask them how important it was for them to use the Detroit-style name in their business. But I know that that is a name that is being used in many other places outside of the Detroit area, and apparently with good success.

Peter

Offline norma427

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2013, 02:33:57 PM »
Peter,

I also really wondered about why Detroit style pizzas are called that, except they are made in Detroit in auto parts pans.  I had a few people from Detroit visit my small pizza stand and ask what a Detroit style pizza was.  They apparently never heard of a Detroit style pizza either. 

I sure don't know, but think it has something to do with something like Chicago style pizzas.  I have recently been talking to someone on facebook and this is what he said to me about Chicago pizzas. 

Also, can I clear something up? A huge misconception about Chicago is that we eat deep dish pizza, or at least prefer it. In reality eating deep dish is only a once in a year occasion if even that! We prefer thin pizzas cut into squares. Pizza is always cut into squares in Chicago! Expect of course for deep dish.

Most Chicagoans feel that deep dish is "too filling" and heavy. So we stick with the thin. The concept of two inches of crust, two inches of cheese, and two inches of sauce is just not palatable to most Chicagoans.
Thanks, Jim

That is just Jim opinion though about Chicago style pizzas.

Norma
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Online tinroofrusted

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2013, 02:46:48 PM »
To me, Detroit style is typified by:
  • Square pan
  • Cheese (hopefully including brick cheese) packed on the side of the pan and carmelized to a delicious brown on the sides of the pan
  • Sauce put on in stripes after the pie is baked. 

It does have something in common with Chicago deep dish but it's a different animal for sure. 

Regards,

TinRoof

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: What differentiates a standard American Sicilian from Detroit style?
« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2013, 02:51:02 PM »
After my last post, I decided to send an email to Buddy's. In the email, I mentioned that there appear to be many people from the Detroit area who, while they know what the pizzas that are sold by Buddy's and other Detroit-area pizzerias are like, they do not refer to them as "Detroit-style". I specifically asked when the Detroit style name was first attached to the style of pizza that is referred to by that name., either at Buddy's or any other Detroit area pizzeria.

Within 45 minutres of my email, I received the following reply:

"Detroit Style" was not originated by Buddy's Pizza.  It's a geographical term used here in the Detroit area since possibly the 1940's. 

The "Detroit Style" refers to a deep dish, Sicilian style pizza.  Buddy's Pizza is a representation of this style. 

The use of the term recently became more popular, no doubt, since National Chains like Hungry Howies started serving a deep dish pizza.


In the course of my research, I found articles that offered up three or four explanations on the origins of the Buddy's Detroit style pizza. One said that the recipe that was used for the original pizza, as made by Gus Guerra, was derived from a recipe of his Sicilian mother-in-law (see, for example, the Slice article at http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/05/detroit-the-guerra-legacy-lives-on-at-cloverleaf.html). Another explanation is that Gus, with the help of his wife and an employee Connie Piccolino, helped with the recipe for Gus' deep-dish pizza (see, for example, the article at http://www.hourdetroit.com/Hour-Detroit/July-2013/Motor-City-Export/ and the article at http://diningindetroit.blogspot.com/2011/06/eid-feature-buddys-pizza-detroit.html). The HourDetroit article offers up another explanation, that "an old Sicilian guy named Dominic taught Guerra how to make the pies". I suppose that all of the explanations are possible, that is, the recipe came from Gus' Sicilian mother-in-law but was implemented by Gus, his wife, Connie and Dominic.

Peter