I’m not going to lie, when Pop Tarts won the poll last week, I was pretty worried it was going to be a disaster of epic proportions. I mean, I’m okay with most pastries, but I figured pop tarts would be pretty delicate, hard to work with, and easy to screw up.
After all, that’s why people buy them instead of making them right?! Well, kind of. They aren’t super-easy, but if you can even halfway make a pie crust, you’ll be alright making pop tarts!
And come on, you can’t tell me this doesn’t look approximately 100 times better than the store variety?
The store variety of pop tarts tend to be kind of bready and heavy because they have to stand up to the toaster, but these guys are light and flaky. A buttery, flaky delicious thing. And they keep for a long time in the freezer, not that they’ll last that long.
1) For dough, add dry ingredients to a bowl and stir together. Cut in cold butter with your fingers or fork until it's in pea-sized bits.
2) Add ice water and bring the dough together in a ball. Try not to add too much water.
3) Knead the dough slightly on a floured counter and then split the dough into two even-sized balls. Wrap each ball in plastic and store them in the fridge for at least an hour.
4) Working with one ball at a time, roll each ball out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle. Mine were about 16x12 in size.
5) Trim off any extra dough so you have a perfect rectangle and slice the dough into 8 even rectangles. In my case, each rectangle was 4x6 more or less.
6) Set down for rectangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add a heaping tablespoon of preserves right in the center of each rectangle. Be sure to leave plenty of room around the edges for sealing the tarts.
7) Add the top half of each tart and try to push out as much air as possible. Use a fork to seal the edges around each pop tart and poke a few holes in the top of each tart as well.
8) Freeze the tarts for at least 2 hours before baking. You can also wrap them in plastic and store them once they are frozen.
9) Bake frozen tarts at 375 degrees on parchment paper for 25-30 minutes.
Adapted from May 2010 Bon Appetit.
Making the Dough
Like I said, this dough is basically like a pie crust. The key to keeping it flaky is to use as little ice water as possible and keep your ingredients cold. Start by roughly cubing up your cold butter.
Then add it into your dry ingredients (mix up all your dry ingredients first). Using either a fork or your clean fingers, mush up the butter until you have everything evenly mixed.
You should have pea-sized balls of butter. It should look like a coarse meal. Then add your water and combine everything until it starts to form a ball. Try not to add too much water. You don’t want it wet by any means.
It’ll be kind of messy and barely be sticking together at this point, but turn it out onto a clean surface.
Knead the dough lightly for a minute or two until the dough comes together in a ball. Then split the dough in half, roll each half into a ball and wrap them in plastic.
Stick these in the fridge for at least an hour, but the dough would keep in the fridge for a a day or two.
Making the Pop Tarts
When you’re ready to make the pop tarts, take out one of your dough balls and sprinkle a clean surface with some flour. Lightly roll the dough out into a large rectangle. Mine was about 16×12 inches.
Then trim off any exterior dough so you have a perfect rectangle and slice up the dough into 8 even rectangles. So in my case each rectangle was 4×6 inches. I didn’t measure it exactly though so some of mine were larger and some smaller.
That’s what I like to call the rustic look.
For the Filling
Ok. So I started this recipe by having grand aspirations of making my own filling, but A) I wasn’t able to find any fantastic strawberries and B) (equally important) I was too lazy. I did find some delicious strawberry preserves at the farmer’s market though!
Try not to use any preserves that have have a lot of corn syrup or stuff like that. Just real strawberry preserves are the best for this. You’ll be able to really taste whatever you fill the pop tarts with so make sure it’s something good.
If you wanted to make your own, this looks like a good recipe.
Finishing the pop tarts
Once you have your rectangles cut and your filling picked out, the rest should be pretty straight forward.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then set down four rectangles. You might need a dough scraper to help get each rectangle off the counter. Mine stuck a tiny bit.
Then add a heaping Tablespoon of filling right in the center of each rectangle. Be sure to leave plenty of room for sealing them off around the edges.
Next add your top half to each pop tart. Push the edges down with your fingers and try to get out as much air as possible. Then use a fork to really seal the edges off. Use the same fork (multi-use!) to poke some holes in the top of the pop tart so steam can escape while they bake.
The trick to these guys is to freeze them solid before you try to bake them. If you bake them as is, the filling will get too hot too fast and you’ll have an exploding pastry on your hands. If you freeze them though, the filling will be perfectly warm by the time the crust is cooked.
They’ll take about 2 hours to freeze solid. Then you can either cook them right away or store them for later.
Again, you want to go straight from freezer to 375 degree oven. Parchment paper will be your friend to make sure they don’t stick.
After 25-30 minutes, you’ll have some delicious pop tarts.
Some of the filling might creep out, but most of it should stay in the pop tart as long as you don’t over-fill them and give them a chance to freeze solid.
You could do the whole glaze thing like a store pop tart if you wanted, but I just dusted mine with some powdered sugar and called it good enough.
The one thing that you lose with this recipe is that you definitely can’t make these in a toaster. It just wouldn’t work. They need to be baked.
What you gain in return though is more than worth it in my opinion. The crust is very flaky and buttery and the filling is really flavorful and not too sweet.
I believe that I’ve conquered The Pop Tart. You should too.