Cuisine / Pâtisserie / Recipe

3:2:1 pie dough

pie dough in a form

I recently stumbled upon a new-to-me pie dough recipe thanks to the talented American baker, Cecilia Tolone, who has made Stockholm her new culinary playground.

Cecilia, who previously worked as head pastry chef at the 3-Michelin-starred restaurant Frantzén, has since embarked on her own culinary adventures, which she chronicles in short vlogs. For one of her latest dinner parties, she made charming Västerbotten cheese quiches, baked in mazarin tartlet pans. The dough? A 3:2:1 pie dough that she calls “a classic ratio that every baker should know”. Of course, I can only agree.

What struck me about this dough is its remarkable simplicity. The 3:2:1 ratio – with three parts flour, two parts fat, and one part water – creates a dough that is easy to work with and makes for a flaky pastry crust. It is also immensely versatile – add a couple of tablespoons of golden caster sugar when making a sweet tart, or maybe some finely chopped herbs and a handful of grated cheese for a quiche.
Oh yes, the possibilities are endless!

Of course, I couldn’t help but draw a comparison with a French classic, and perhaps the very first recipe my grand-mère ever taught me: pâte brisée.

Now, don’t get me wrong, pâte brisée will always have its unreachable first-love status, with its indulgent, buttery flavor and delicate texture. But this 3:2:1 pie dough offers a simplicity that can’t get matched – and no eggs to separate!

IngredientsPâte Brisée3:2:1 Pie Dough
Plain Flour100%100%
Egg Yolks8%0%

This pie dough felt slightly flakier compared to pâte brisée. Let’s have a look at a few points:

– fat content: the higher fat content in the 3:2:1 pie dough (67% fat) compared to pâte brisée (50% fat) contributes to a flakier texture. The fat creates pockets of air when it melts during baking, resulting in more layers.

– water content: pâte brisée (25% water+8% egg yolks – for reference, egg yolk contain 45-50% water) has a slightly lower water content than 3:2:1 pie dough (33% water). This could explain why pâte brisée feels shorter and crumblier, as gluten development is reduced.

– mixing technique: the mixing technique used for the 3:2:1 pie dough, which involves letting the butter in larger pieces, is one I will apply to pâte brisée in the future. Often, I will give the dough a single turn – when it isn’t quite a dough yet, more like a lumpy, floury mess -, as I find that it helps the dough come together and creates the flakiest pastry.

3:2:1 pie dough

This recipe is a wonderful base for all your tarts and pies. It makes for a great dough that's easy to work with, and a crisp and flaky pastry crust that is very versatile. Perfect for both sweet and savoury fillings!


Adapted from Cecilia Tolone.
As mentioned above, I almost always give the dough a single turn - when it isn't quite a dough yet, more like a lumpy, floury mess -, as I find that it helps the dough come together and creates the flakiest pastry, not unlike a rough puff pastry. 
Author: Fanny Zanotti
Prep Time25 minutes
Total Time4 hours 25 minutes
Makes 1.2 kg dough, enough for 3x25cm pies


  • 600 g plain flour
  • 400 g cold salted butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 200 g ice-cold water
  • butter extra to butter your tart pan


  • Start by grating the butter onto a piece of baking paper. it is easier to do so if the butter is really cold. Set aside in the fridge - or better yet, in the freezer - while you get on with the rest.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together.
  • Add the grated butter to the flour mixture, and quickly mix it together using your hands. The mixture should be very coarse.
  • Add in the water, and mix until the dough just comes together. It should feel dry and lumpy.
  • Form the dough into a ball - sometimes, I will give the dough a single turn before it even comes together, read note above.
    And wrap in clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for at least one hour, or even better, overnight.
  • Once the dough is cold, generously butter your tart/pie pan and set aside. Lightly flour your work bench, and roll the dough out to the desired thickness. Line your prepared pan.
  • Chill in the freezer while you pre-heat your oven. This dough bakes beautifully at 200°C/fan 180°C.

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