Credit: Photo by Scott Suchman / Courtesy Andy’s Pizza

Making homemade pizza crust seems like a good idea. Until you actually try it and end up with a doughy wad of creosote-tasting garbage. 

Andy Brown is the owner and operator of Andy’s Pizza, the famed New York-style pizza chain that took over D.C. and Northern Virginia and opened a location in Brown’s hometown of Bethesda in September. Here, Brown explains how to make crust properly so the dream of cooking a crisp pizza in an outdoor oven can become a reality. All it takes is a few simple ingredients and several days of your life.

“The best pizza crust is just flour, water, salt and yeast,” Brown says. “The most important ingredient is time—we give all of our dough three days in the fridge before we pull it out and prove it. That’s cold fermentation.” And it’s absolutely crucial, he says. “That fermentation process develops flavor and texture. …We’re looking for that bready flavor, and we find three days is the magic mark.”

Andy Brown Credit: Photo by Scott Suchman / Courtesy Andy’s Pizza

Next, consider where you’re making the pizza, because that will determine the type of ingredients to buy. In an outdoor oven (which is where everyone wants to make a pizza), the temperature should be 900 degrees, Brown says. In an indoor oven, the temperature should be as high as the oven can go. “If you’re cooking in an outdoor oven, you’re going to want a really low-gluten flour with a low protein percentage, like an Italian import double zero,” according to Brown, who says you can get double zero flour, an extra finely milled variety, at the grocery store. “If you’re cooking in your kitchen, and you’re looking for a New York-style pizza, use a high-protein flour—this is probably the best flour available at the grocery store.” 

Before you add the toppings, make sure to proof the pizza dough in the oven first, letting it first get a little crispy. Then you’re ready for the good stuff, but Brown recommends using a light hand: “Raw vegetables give off lots of water and will make your pizza dough floppy.” And, he says, you can go wrong with too much cheese—it will turn into a gooey blob that won’t melt properly. 

This story appears in the November/December issue of Bethesda Magazine.