Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Homemade Pop Tarts

The thought of a homemade pop tart never even crossed my mind. They weren't in my breakfast repertoire growing up, and by the time I tried my first one (probably in high school) I wasn't that impressed. Pop tarts are great in theory, but really not that good, even when toasted they're still kind of dry and crumbly (not in a good way). I haven't had one, or really even thought about them in years...until I saw this post on Smitten Kitchen. What better way to spend my last couple days of freedom than baking?

Here's the basic cinnamon/brown sugar version, but if you visit Smitten Kitchen there are instructions for different fillings, a whole wheat version, and a couple other varieties. She says this recipe is adapted from one by King Arthur Flour, where I found the recipe for the whoopie pies I made recently.

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

To make cinnamon filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.

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 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. (I cut mine a little differently and got eight squares.)

Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. This will be the “inside” of the tart; the egg is to help glue the lid on. 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.

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.

So easy! I was worried, because sometimes I have problems with dough, but this was a really easy dough to work with. I decided to make a glaze to go on top, which a little more toaster strudel style, but that's ok.

I didn't really pay attention to the quantities while I was mixing it, but it was about 1/3 cup confectioners sugar and maybe a tablespoon or two of water. And 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla. Just mix the sugar and water together and add a little more sugar if it's too thin, or more water if it's too thick. It should be runny, but not too watery. Put it into a small ziploc bag and cut just a tiny bit off the corner to make a pastry bag. Mmmmm.


  1. Totally agree with your commentary on pop tarts. in theory they sound so good, but they never are unless you are drunk, then the chocolate ones are delish! your homemade ones look amazing. no way i'm motivated enough to do this myself, but i'm very impressed!

  2. wow! now that u can make homemade poptarts you probably could make the mcdonalds apple pie!