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123 Dough (ten 4" tarts or one 8" tart)

Or, as my brother says, “ready, set, dough.” The one-two-three in the name refers to the ratio of sugar, butter and flour used in the recipe, but it’s also as easy as 1-2-3 to put together. I use it for my go-to tart shell, but it can be rolled out and cut as a sugar cookie too.

stack of tart shells

The dough is stiff enough to roll out as soon as you make it but it stores well too, meaning you don’t have to make and bake it on the same day, if splitting up the work load helps fit a fresh fruit tart in your schedule.

123 Tart Dough, about 10 4” tarts
2 ounces sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
6 ounces flour, sifted
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla or extract of your choice
optional: 1 teaspoon citrus zest, scrapings from 1/2 a vanilla bean, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, etc.

powdered sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease the tart pan(s). If you’re making one large tart, using a pan with a removable bottom would be ideal.

With a hand or stand mixer, cream together sugar, butter and salt (plus flavoring, if using) for just a few seconds to combine. Add in flour at the lowest speed and mix another minute or two more. The mixture will appear quite mealy and not look particularly dough-like; worry not.

Knead lightly by hand against the sides of the bowl until a smooth dough forms. You can roll out the dough right away, or flatten into a disc, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate until needed (freeze if you’d like to store it for the long term).

When ready to roll, dust the counter and surface of the dough lightly with powdered sugar. Roll the dough to 1/4” thickness and score into 10 portions if making individual tarts. If making one large tart, roll the dough up and onto the pin, then unroll over the tart shell.

In either case, gently press the dough into the tart pan(s), breaking off any excess by pressing the dough firmly against the edge of the tart pan. Use any extra dough to patch up holes or thin spots. The dough is extremely forgiving and you can piece together scraps of dough to form a tart without having to re-roll.

Use a fork to dock the dough all over and bake until very lightly browned, about 14 minutes. Cool the tarts for at least 10 minutes before trying to remove from the shell. Mini tarts will come out easily by simply flipping them over and tapping the edge against the counter.

removing a tart from the pan

Fill with lemon curd as I did for my Total Eclipse of the Tart or pastry cream, or whatever sort of filling you fancy.


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Any questions?

Apr 08, 2012 ·  8:45 PM

Thanks for a great website. After struggling with some sweet pastry dough yesterday, I checked out your website – should have done it first! I can’t see the amount of sugar in the 1-2-3 dough recipe, but going on your ratio theme, it should be 2oz, am I right?

 · Anita · 

Apr 08, 2012 · 10:39 PM

@Anita, omg, thanks for pointing that out! I’d recently updated this and it looks like I somehow deleted the sugar from the ingredient list. I’ve put it back now; quite right, 2 ounces! Wow, I should have had that second cup of coffee…


Sep 30, 2012 · 10:45 PM

Hi Stella,
First of all, thank you so much for sharing your recipes! I have recently discovered how much I love making desserts and BraveTart is a great resource for me.
I was just wondering if the flour in this could be substituted for something GF, or just a little healthier (whole grain?). I kinda have this thing about flour. I know, potentially problematic if I’m gonna continue along the pastry path. Either way, would love to hear your opinion on this. Keep up the stellar blogging!

 · Katie · 

Sep 30, 2012 · 11:26 PM

Hi Katie! I haven’t found my perfect GF blend for this, but I’m certain you could use a whole wheat pastry flour. For GF, you might try buckwheat. I’ve gone with rice flour but they crumble too easily…


Nov 15, 2012 ·  9:45 AM

Hi Stella,

Please include measurements in grams as well. When I use an online calculator, I get 56 g for 2 oz. Is that right for the sugar?


 · Radhika ·

Nov 15, 2012 · 10:24 AM

Hi Radhika! I don’t use grams myself, so I’d be calculating just like you. For gram conversions, those online calculators are pretty safe. 2 ounces is 56 grams, you got it.


Jan 18, 2013 ·  2:15 PM

These look delicious and so versatile! Nice photos. Thanks for sharing!

 · Jessica ·

Jan 19, 2013 · 10:06 AM

Hi Jessica! I have Sarah Jane to thank for the photos. The baked tarts also store really well in the freezer. They’re super handy!


Feb 23, 2013 · 11:19 PM

hola , me quede encantada con tu consejos de macarons , asi que feliz de seguirte , gracias por tus consejos a preparar tu masa , un beso soy de “Perù”

 · nana · 

Feb 24, 2013 ·  1:16 AM

Hi Nana! Thanks for following. I’m glad you’re enjoying the macaron tips. Kisses right back atcha!


Feb 24, 2013 ·  1:03 PM

Hi Stella, can we bake tart shells and store ready made tart shells for future use? If so where do we store it and for how long will it keep? Thank you.

 · Ela · 

Feb 24, 2013 ·  2:27 PM

Hi Ela! Tart shells made with the 123 dough store really well in the freezer. You could stash them there for months. At room temperature, they’ll only last a few days, or about a week in the fridge. In all cases, make sure they’re stored in an airtight container!


May 31, 2013 ·  8:37 AM



May 31, 2013 ·  9:05 AM

haha, PIEINMYFACE1, thanks for the enthusiasm.


Jun 03, 2013 · 11:29 PM

I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been for me to find your blog/site. You are a constant inspiration and are helping me to realize my dream of having my own custom bakery in a small town in the Midwest. Thank you, BraveTart! You are the best! Your recipes rock and so do you!

 · jayneleni ·

Jun 05, 2013 ·  8:48 AM

Will you explain “dock the dough”?

 · New@this  · 

Jun 05, 2013 ·  9:19 AM

@jayneleni, aw! I’m happy to share whatever I can, and glad that’s made a difference to you. Good luck in the pursuit of your bakery, it’s a huge challenge (I’ve helped others do it, though I’ve never owned my own), but can be so rewarding too.

Hi New@This, Oops, sorry for not being more specific! Docking is just taking a fork (or other pokey-object) and perforating the dough; this helps the dough bake evenly, rather than puffing up here and there with air pockets, etc. You don’t have to go crazy or anything, maybe just a fork mark every 1/2” or so, in all directions. Hope that helps!


Jul 05, 2013 ·  5:15 PM

Tanx! Quick question: is it really ok to knead the dough (even ever so sightly) and to press it firmly (= more manipulation)? Thats because i’m worried this may result in developping gluten formation and a tough crust. Cheers!

 · Path' · 

Jul 05, 2013 ·  8:24 PM

Hi Path! It’s really okay, promise! The dough actually needs some gluten development to hold together. If you’re worried, after kneading/rolling the dough and fitting it into a tart shell, you can refrigerate it for 30 minutes to make sure all of the gluten is relaxed. But given the high ratio of butter in the dough, excess gluten formation isn’t a huge problem under normal kneading circumstances.


Oct 18, 2013 · 10:52 PM

Hi Stella! Love your site and so excited for your cookbook! Another year is too far away though! No pressure

I made your Lemon Curd yesterday and I had a slight metallic taste and reading though your comments I’m convinced it was my cheap sieve (I used s/s pots, silicone spatula). So new sieve, fingers crossed!

I made your 123 dough two days ago, wrapped and froze. Today I found it was super crumbly, took buttery hands and kneading to get it to be uniform. I roll it out and it cracks and crumbles, I can’t even begin to roll it over the rolling pin. What did I do? Did I not wrap it tight enough for freezing, did I not mix enough at first? Thanks!

 · Trish · 

Oct 22, 2013 · 10:26 PM

Hi Trish! Oh man, I hope the new sieve comes through for you. I’ve got one that derailed a batch too, I wound up clipping the handle and stuffing it into my flour bin so it wouldn’t have a chance to ever cross paths with something reactive again.

After freezing any dough, it’s generally needs kneading to get its original texture back. Did it feel good at the beginning, before freezing? My first guess is that it wasn’t wrapped tightly enough (I usually go for zippy bags to be sure) and that it lost some moisture during the process. That being said, 123 dough isn’t terribly flexible, but breaks along the lines of a pate brise.


Apr 18, 2014 ·  9:10 PM

This dough has revolutionized my life! In need of a quick dessert? No problem! You are the very best and my absolute baking hero. Thank you thank you!!!

 · Sara · 

Apr 21, 2014 ·  2:04 PM

Aw, Sara, I’m glad to hear it! You can also mix in nuts and stuff, then roll the dough into a log for slice and bake cookies, so great to have on hand in the fridge or freezer.


Jul 01, 2014 ·  4:13 PM

Hi Stella! I love your site and have used your macaron tips to good effect. My question is this: I made this dough today and only got 5 4” tarts out of it. I was using straight-sided pans with removeable bottoms and I rolled it way thinner than 1/4”. Did I screw something up? Or does the type of pan make that much difference? Anyway, it was delicious, didn’t shrink even without refrigeration and I only needed 4 tarts so it was fine. I just wanted to check.

 · Ali Burtt · 

Jul 07, 2014 ·  4:30 PM

Hi Ali! The type of pan could make a bit of difference, depending on the depth. My 4” tart pans are less than 1/2” deep, any idea about yours? I’m glad the dough behaved for you, even if our yields didn’t match.


Sep 24, 2014 ·  1:09 PM

Hey stella
I got a prob.
I bought already baked tarts (unfrozen).
So will I have to bake it again after adding the fillings or can I let it stay as search

 · iza · 

Oct 08, 2014 · 12:53 PM

Are your ounces cup measures or weight? Since I don’t have a kitchen scale, I measured 8 oz. as a cup. The 123 dough doesn’t look right, and I’m now worried about my lemon curd! If you use weight measures, could you also please use the cup equivalent? Or at least specify if it’s by weight or cup measure PLEASE.

 · Rebecca  · 

Oct 14, 2014 ·  5:16 PM

Will this recipe work when you par-bake the crust first and then fill it and bake again to get a cooked filling? (OR to use it WITHOUT baking the tart first and then fill it and bake it straight away for an hour or so??)

 · VC · 

Nov 20, 2014 · 10:20 AM

Does this dough puff up in the oven at all or does it stay pretty firm? I’d be using it for an 11-inch tart pan… Also, I have a filling that needs to be baked for 25-35 minutes at around 180 degrees Celsius, what should I do as far as baking the tart shell?? (Sorry if these questions have already been asked!)

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Jul 06, 2015 ·  2:23 PM

Sounds like a nice and simple recipe and am looking forward to trying it out. I need to bake a large number of tartlets and I notice that you say that the baked tart shells can be frozen. Any tips on how to freeze and do I need to do something special to defrost them once I take them out or just fill and use as per usual? Thank you!

 · Portlandgal · 

Jul 23, 2015 ·  9:16 AM

That was really informative post for me thanks for sharing this.

 · sonam sharma ·


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