Sourdough Focaccia Pizza

Have you tried focaccia style pizza? It’s an irresistible combination of crispy and soft. This sourdough focaccia pizza is a delightful homage to the beloved Detroit-style pizza, which holds a special place in our family’s heart. Imagine a light and airy base, generously coated in olive oil, topped with homemade tomato sauce and loaded with three different types of cheese. It all comes together in melty perfection, creating a gooey and indulgent topping. Detroit-style focaccia pizza holds cherished memories, like the pizza party we had the night before my wedding, where family and friends gathered to visit and enjoy this delicious style of pizza. If you haven’t tried it yet, now is the time. Get ready to fall in love with some seriously delicious pizza!

Sample Sourdough Schedule for Sourdough Focaccia Pizza

Pizza made with 100% natural yeast takes extra time. Because of this I like to start my sourdough recipes with a sample schedule to visualize what the timing looks like. This sample schedule assumes the dough temperature will be maintained at 78 degrees F throughout this process.

Day 1
9:00 PM9:00 AMMix Levain (1:10:10, overnight or about 12 hours)
Day 2
9:00 AMBegin Bulk Fermentation
Fermentolyse: Mix Flour, Water and Levain
9:30 AMAdd Salt and Mix. Let rest.
10:00 AM – 11:30 AMCoil Fold #1
Coil Fold #2
Coil Fold #3
Coil Fold #4
11:30 AM – 1:00 PMFinish Bulk Fermentation
1:00 PMShape Dough into Pizza Pan
or optional Cold Ferment
4:00 PM – 5:00 PMTop Pizza and Bake

Ingredients in Sourdough Focaccia Style Pizza

  • Sourdough StarterUse an active/ripe sourdough starter (doubled in size/bubbly/mild sour aroma) to mix the levain.
  • Bread Flour: I almost always use bread flour for any bread that I am kneading. My bread flour is purchased from a local mill and is about 12.5% protein content. If you don’t have bread flour on hand, make sure to include some vital wheat gluten.
  • Salt: Salt is added after a fermentolyse to help the gluten strands develop. It’s important to balance the flavors. Don’t leave it out.
  • Pizza Sauce: A quick, stovetop pizza sauce enhances the flavor of this pizza (recipe included below). You can use a favorite jarred sauce if you prefer.
  • Cheese: Wisconsin Brick Cheese is traditional in Detroit-style pizza. I can’t find that locally, so I used a combination of mozzarella, havarti and montery jack instead.

Focaccia Style Pizza Dough

Sourdough Focaccia is already one of my favorite sourdough recipes to make, so it’s no wonder that adding pizza toppings would make it taste even better. This pizza is made with a focaccia dough base. It took a few tries to get the right ratio of focaccia to sauce/cheese/toppings but I think it’s now the perfect balance. This dough is easy to work with, smooth and bakes up into bubbly delicious focaccia style pizza.

Looking for More Homemade Pizza Recipes?

Making a Levain

I use a levain method for making sourdough. You can read more about that here.

For this recipe I use an overnight levain (1:10:10 ratio).

  • 5 grams ripe/mature sourdough starter
  • 50 grams all purpose or bread flour
  • 50 grams water

Before mixing, take the temperature of the sourdough starter and flour. If it is colder than the 75-80 degree range, use warm water to mix the levain. If the ingredients are warmer than 75-80 degrees, use cooler water. The goal is for the levain to be in the 75-80 degree temperature range. After mixing, cover loosely and let sit for about 10-12 hours (at 75-80 degrees F). If you want to mix levain the same day you mix the pizza , mix a 1:1:1 levain with 35 grams ripe sourdough starter, 35 grams flour and 35 grams water. Let sit for 3-4 hours until bubbly, doubled in size and barely beginning to fall back down.

Mixing Dough for Detroit Style Pizza

Sourdough focaccia pizza dough is easily mixed by hand. You can also use a stand mixer for part of the process, but I find it just as easy to mix with your hands. I also like using a dough whisk at the beginning for the very sticky parts.

Fermentolyse: Mix together the ripe levain, bread flour and water. Let rest for 30 minutes to allow the gluten strands to begin forming. This is an easy, hands-off way to strengthen the dough.

After 30 minutes, add the salt and pinch together the dough with your fingers, completely incorporating the salt into the dough. Transfer the dough to a shallow container (a glass baking dish works well) and cover. Wait another 30 minutes for the dough to rest and then perform  your first set of coil folds. You will perform 3-4 sets of coil folds total over 1.5-2 hours.

Coil Folding to Strengthen the Dough

The coil fold is a technique of picking up the dough from the middle and letting the dough fall down onto and under itself, resulting in a coil. Once the dough is initially mixed, it will be very sticky. Place the dough in a rectangular container or glass pan. Cover it and let it sit. After half an hour, open the container and perform 4-6 coil folds. The dough will be very sticky for this first set of coil folds but will strengthen over time. Wet your hands with water. Place your hands under the middle of the dough and pull up. The dough will stretch up (but should not tear) and release from the bottom of the bowl. Once the dough releases, let the dough fall back under itself. Repeat the process for both sides of dough. Then turn the container and repeat the coil fold. Don’t worry if the dough is super sticky for the first one or two coil folds. It will transform into beautiful dough throughout this process. You can watch a coil fold here.

End Bulk Fermentation

Total bulk fermentation time is calculated from the time the levain is mixed with the flour until the dough is ready to be shaped or moved to the pizza pan. Typically this takes about 4-5 hours if the dough is kept at 78 degrees F. If the dough is cooler, it will take a little longer. If the dough is warmer it will go faster. Look for these signs that the dough is ready to end the bulk fermentation stage:

  1. Dough will be puffed up and you may notice a 20% rise
  2. Dough will start to round and pull away from the edges just a bit
  3. Dough will be aerated, smooth and strong
  4. Bubbles will be scattered around the edges and maybe a few in the middle of the dough

Cold Bulk Ferment: At this point you can stick the dough in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours if you prefer to bake this pizza later. Add a couple hours to the rise time to account for the cold before you top and bake the pizza.

Shaping Detroit Style Pizza and Proofing the Dough

Generously oil a 12 inch round or 9 by 13 baking pan (on the darker side–no glass pans). Oil should cover the entire bottom of the pan. Place the dough on top of the oil and gently stretch it. Cover the dough and come back to it about 10 minutes later to stretch it out some more. The goal is to get the dough to loosely fill the pan. If the dough starts to tear, stop stretching, let it rest and come back to it a few minutes later. Let the dough rise about 2-3 hours until light, airy and bubbly.

A note about the pan: Detroit-style pizza is traditionally made in a square baking pan. and slices are cut into squares. I am a big fan of using what you have available to you, so my pizza is baked in a circular deep dish pan, which works just as well. Whatever pan you you use, just make sure it’s on the darker side for that crispy crust–no glass pans for this pizza!

Homemade Pizza Sauce for Detroit Style Pizza

This homemade pizza sauce is incredible, but if you have a favorite jarred sauce, you can use that too. While the dough is rising, prepare the pizza sauce. To a saucepan, add olive oil, garlic, oregano and pepper. Turn the heat to medium-high and sauté about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes and remaining ingredients (salt and sugar to taste). Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring as needed. Let cool before using. The sauce can be refrigerated for 3-5 days.

Top Pizza and Bake

Dimple the risen dough with your fingers and spread the cooled sauce over the dough, letting it fall into the nooks and crannies of the bubbly dough. Detroit-style focaccia pizza is known for the Wisconsin brick cheese that tops the focaccia crust. I can’t find that cheese locally, so I’ve found a mix of cheeses that makes a great pizza. Shred good quality mozzarella, havarti and monterey jack cheese. Sprinkle them on top of the sauce and then top with your desired toppings–I love a pineapple/pepperoni combination. Bake the pizza in a preheated 450 degree F oven for about 30 minutes until bubbly and baked through. Let the pizza cool just a minute before removing from the pan. Slice and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you store leftover pizza?

Store any leftover pizza in an airtight container or ziplock bag in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. 

Should I pre-bake the crust before putting on the toppings?

If you don’t like a very soft interior crust, you can pre-bake the focaccia pizza base for 5 minutes, then quickly pull the pizza out of the oven and top with sauce, cheese and toppings. Bake for 25 more minutes.

Do I need a special pan for this pizza?

Detroit-style pizza is usually baked in a square or rectangular pan. With that said, I am a big proponent of using what you have. Just make sure you use a dark pan so you get those crispy edges–no glass!

Looking for more Sourdough Recipes?

Sourdough Focaccia Pizza

Amy
Detroit-style sourdough focaccia pizza is baked in a pan coated in olive oil, topped with homemade tomato sauce & loaded with 3 different types of cheese. This recipe is sure to become a family favorite!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Fermentation Time 21 hours
Total Time 22 hours
Course Main Course, pizza
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 1 12 inch pizza

Ingredients
  

Levain (1:10:10, 12 hours/overnight)

  • 5 grams sourdough starter
  • 50 grams all purpose flour
  • 50 grams water

Pizza Dough

  • 80 grams levain
  • 320 grams water
  • 400 grams bread flour 12.5%-13% protein content
  • 12 grams salt

Pizza Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced about 1 Tablespoon
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar to taste
  • salt to taste see recipe note

Pizza Toppings

  • 114 grams mozzarella cheese shredded, about 4 oz
  • 114 grams monterey jack cheese shredded, about 4 oz
  • 114 grams havarti cheese shredded or sliced, about 4 oz
  • pepperoni or other desired toppings

Instructions
 

Levain (1:10:10, about 10-12 hours at 78 degrees F until ripe)

  • Mix together 5 grams ripe sourdough starter with 50 grams water and 50 grams flour. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature until bubbly and doubled in size.

Detroit Style Sourdough Focaccia Pizza

  • Bulk Fermentation: To a bowl, mix together ripe levain, water and bread flour until combined. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Add Salt: After 30 minutes, add the salt. Use your fingers to pinch together the dough and mix with your hands until completely incorporated.
  • Coil Folds: Get your hands wet and transfer the dough to a shallow container. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
  • Coil Fold #1: Open the container and perform 4-6 coil folds. The dough will be very sticky for this first set of coil folds but will strengthen over time. Wet your hands with water. Place your hands under the middle of the dough and pull up. The dough will stretch up (but should not tear) and release from the bottom of the bowl. Once the dough releases, let the dough fall back under itself. Repeat the process for both sides of dough. Then turn the container and repeat the coil fold. I find it very helpful to watch this process before attempting it. You can watch a video of the coil fold here. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Coil Fold # 2: Wet your hands. You will notice the dough is stronger than your first set of coil folds. Repeat the coil fold 4-6 times. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
  • Coil Fold # 3: Wet your hands. Repeat the coil fold 4-6 times. Notice the dough is getting stronger and the coil folds are easier to perform. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
  • Coil Fold # 4: Repeat the coil fold 4-6 times. Cover and rest for 1 – 1.5 hours.
  • End Bulk Fermentation: Look for the signs of the dough to end bulk fermentation. The dough will be puffed up, domed a little and scattered bubbles around the edges. This tells you the dough is ready for the next phase.
    Cold Ferment Option: At this point you can refrigerate the dough for 24-48 hours if desired. When you pull the dough out of the refrigerator you'll want to add an extra hour or two to the rise time to account for the cold dough.
  • Prepare a Pan:  Prepare a 12 inch baking pan (affiliate link) with 1/4-1/3 cup good quality oil. Pour the oil in the pan and tip the pan around to cover the entire bottom.
  • Proof: Place the dough into the oiled pan. Gently stretch the dough from the middle out, but don't worry if it doesn't fill the pan yet. Cover the dough. Wait about 10 minutes for the dough to relax and stretch it again. Do your best to fill the pan with the dough. Repeat after another 10 minute rest if needed. Let the dough rise for about 2-3 hours at 78 degrees F until light, airy and bubbly.
  • Prepare Sauce: Prepare the pizza sauce while the dough is rising. To a saucepan, add the olive oil, garlic, oregano and pepper. Turn the heat to medium-high and sauté about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes and remaining ingredients (salt and sugar to taste). Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring as needed. Let cool before using. The sauce can be refrigerated for 3-5 days.
  • Prepare Toppings: Grate the cheeses and prepare the pepperoni and any other toppings.
  • Preheat Oven: About fifteen minutes before the dough is ready to top, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Dimple and Top: Add a small drizzle of olive oil to the top of the dough. Dimple it by pressing your fingers into the dough, until it's dimpled all over and bubbly. Add about 1/3-1/2 of the pizza sauce over the top of the dough depending on your preference. Top with a combination of mozzarella, havarti and monterey jack cheeses and any other pizza toppings.
  • Bake: Bake pizza for 30 minutes at 450 degrees F until bubbly and baked through. Wait 5-10 minutes before taking the pizza out of the pan. Enjoy!

Notes

This pizza is crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. If you prefer a chewier crust, bake the pizza dough for 5 minutes before topping with sauce and cheese. Then bake for the remaining 25 minutes. 
 
 
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12 Comments

  1. Hi Amy, I live in Florida (high humidity). Last couple of times my dough seems very wet/sticky to work with. Should I reduce the water? This looks absolutely delicious. Thank you

  2. Can I separate the dough, after the bulk fermentation, into four balls stored in separate containers and freeze for later use ?

    1. I don’t tend to freeze sourdough dough. Sourdough is much more temperature sensitive and freezing can kill off some of the yeast. I would probably just make a smaller batch or par-bake the dough and keep the par-baked dough in the freezer to top and reheat/finish baking when needed. But, you can definitely try it. If you do try, let me know how it turns out!

  3. I made your focaccia bread first and it was great! My daughter said it seemed like it’d be good for deep dish pizza so I made a double batch of dough one for me and one for her and her husband. It was delishious! We made ours in 12″ cast iron pans. It worked great and didn’t stick. Next time I’ll use less oil on the bottom we both thought it was a little too much. Maybe a 1/4 cup next time. Love it.

  4. My starter is ripe, but my levain never takes. I havent been able to make a true loaf yet, my guess my house is too cold. I do try to keep levain warm. Can this be made without levain? Thanks

    1. You can sub active starter for levain, but if your levain is not rising, it makes me wonder if your dough would rise. How old is your starter? And yes it needs to be kept warm (78 degrees is what I recommend) for best results.

  5. 5 stars
    This turned out delicious! We love the crispy edges and fluffy interior. I used our favorite jarred pizza sauce but otherwise followed recipe. Another hit we will definitely make again. Thanks Amy!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it. I haven’t done much his yet, but if you have leftover dough, this is what I would try. I would shape the dough and bake just the dough partway until the crust and dough has set but it’s not brown. Then freeze it. Pull it out, top it and finish baking it.