Thursday, April 29, 2010

Homemade Pop Tarts

Most recipes I have come across use a pie dough for the pastry but I was really stuck on getting a crust that was a little more sturdy — one with an egg. Often I see fillings of just jam, yet a little thickener added to the jam goes a long way towards keeping it from being too wet and soggy inside. Finally, a lot of versions I came across while I was digging around offer some sort of apology that the glaze (should you make one) isn’t as hard as the packaged ones, that a homemade version really wont hold up well in an upright toaster or that the brown sugar filling doesn’t have the odd stiffness of the ones you can buy at the grocery; this version does not. Sure, it may lack the sturdiness and shell-like slick of a packaged Pop Tart, but it has the buttery, flaky, no-toaster-required-to-soften-it transcendence the grocery store aisle version can only dream about, and hooray for that.

Homemade Pop Tarts
from King Arthur Flour


2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk
1 additional large egg (to brush on pastry)

Cinnamon Filling (enough for 9 tarts)

1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling

Jam Filling

3/4 cup (8 ounces) jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water

Alternate Fillings: 9 tablespoons chocolate chips, 9 tablespoons Nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut paste or 9 tablespoons of a delight of your choice, such as salted caramel or a nut paste

To Make Cinnamon Filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.

To Make Jam Filling: Mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Use to fill the pastry tarts.

Make The Dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk the first egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.

Divide the dough in half (approximately 8 1/4 ounces each), shape each half into a smooth rectangle, about 3×5 inches. You can roll this out immediately (see Warm Kitchen note below) or wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Assemble The Tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. [You can use a 9" x 13" pan, laid on top, as guidance.] Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside. Cut each piece of dough into thirds – you’ll form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.

Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. Place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Tip From King Arthur: Sprinkle the dough trimmings with cinnamon-sugar; these have nothing to do with your toaster pastries, but it’s a shame to discard them, and they make a wonderful snack. While the tarts are chilling, bake these trimmings for 13 to 15 minutes, till they’re golden brown.

Bake The Tarts: Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Cool in pan on rack.

Whole Wheat Variation: I was itching to swap out 1/2 cup of the flour with whole wheat flour. I am sure it would make it more deliciously breakfast.

Pop Tart Minis: The biggest struggle I had with these was the size. I actually like my baked goods on the tiny size, thus I think this could make an adorable batch of 16 2 1/4″ x 3″ rectangles.

Savory Pop Tarts: Nix the sugar in the dough and halve the salt. Fill with pesto, cheese, ground nuts or olives, or any combination thereof. Brush the tops with additional egg wash and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds. Please invite me over.

Do ahead: The sweet versions should keep at room temperature in an airtight container for a week. If you’d like to make them further in advance, I vote for freezing them unbaked between layers of waxed paper, and baking them as you need.

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