I don’t know what possessed me to make Homemade Pop Tarts the other day. Hausfrau gone wild? Seriously, I never really liked pop tarts. Oh, I like the idea of them, a jammy filling nestled between two sheets of flakey, buttery pastry but the commercial variety just never did it for me.
You’re going to find Homemade Pop Tarts are a whole ‘nuther animal from the commercial variety. They’re going to live up to all your expectations – heck, they’ll exceed any expectations. And they’re easier to make than you might think.
About Homemade Pop Tarts:
Years ago my son and I made Semi-Homemade Pop Tarts from refrigerated pie dough and a little jelly we had cluttering up the fridge. I’ve never forgotten how good they were and never forgot that I wanted to make a completely homemade version sometime. Well, sometime is here. And I’m wondering “Why, oh why, did I wait so long?!”
This slightly sweet pastry, or pate sucree if you want to sound all “foodie” is the perfect foil for the sweet filling. The pastry is sturdy enough to pick up and eat and tasty enough to stand on its own. Then you can fill your Homemade Pop Tarts with whatever you’d like. Even flavors or combinations of flavors that you won’t find in a box…but you can look at the flavors from the boxed variety if you need a little inspiration. Here’s Kellogg’s site for their Pop-Tarts.
I like to use a fruit spread but a nice, thick jam is great, too. Jelly will work in a pinch and don’t forget a brown sugar cinnamon filling. If you’d like to get fancier, use a chutney or any fancy jam product you like. Heck, you can go sweet or savory for a different twist. Anything that floats your boat. And while I’m here, I’m going to just whisper in your ear, “Nutella…”
About Making Homemade Pop Tarts:
The pastry dough for these Homemade Pop Tarts is going to be one of the easiest pastry doughs you’ve ever worked with. It’s sturdy enough to pick the top portion and lay over the filled bottom portion, rolls beautifully, sticks together well (so no leaks or hassles) and tastes great.
I’m not saying that there isn’t a little work to making the pop tarts, but having a great pastry recipe makes it so much easier. Pie crust is my nemesis and even I had these whipped out in minutes, ready to go for a little chill time in the fridge (it makes the dough a little flakier) and then for their 20-minute bake.
I do have a large silicone mat I rolled the top pastry out on, which made it a bit easier to transfer over to cover the bottom portion, but a standard pastry cloth will work, too, and if you don’t have anything like that, roll your top pastry out right next to your bottom pastry so it will be an easy transfer.
Keep in mind that Homemade Pop Tarts are all about the taste. These aren’t going to be able to go into the toaster but can be reheated in the toaster oven, oven or microwave. The lovely glaze will always be a bit soft (no hardeners) and will melt if heated, though.
Saving Money on Homemade Pop Tarts:
Of course, you’ll want to shop well for all your standard baking items, especially the butter which is always one of the costliest ingredients. Aldi, if you have one is a good bet, Costco usually has great prices and you’ll often find butter on sale around holidays. Stock up and freeze and it will keep for months.
Homemade Pop Tarts are a great way to use up a little of this or a dab of that when you have spreads or jam cluttering up your fridge. And provided you like the jam you’re using, it’s kind of fun to be surprised when you do a bit of mixing and matching. If you make your Pop Tarts with different flavors and don’t want to be surprised, make a small mark on the pop tart before baking, in a place that won’t be covered after with the glaze.
When buying jams and spreads, one of the best times to find great prices is in the late summer or fall, a few weeks past the harvest. Prices generally rise during the winter months, peaking in spring. Jams and similar pantry products are great coupon items if you clip by paper or electronically.
Homemade Pop Tarts
A beautiful slightly sweet pastry offsets a sweeter filling in these Pop Tarts that will be beloved by adult and child alike.
- Pate Sucree (Pastry)
- 2 1/2 cups flour (see note)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) butter, well chilled and cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup very cold water
- about a cup of filling: jam, preserves, fruit spreads or your favorite filling, sweet or savory
For the glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon milk, plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or another extract
- Sprinkles or other decorations as desired, optional
For the Pastry and Filling:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and sugar. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, 2 to 3 pulses of about 8 seconds each.
Add egg to a small bowl and lightly beat. Add ice water to egg and mix. With machine running, add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; Do not over process. Stop and scrape down after a pulse or two if needed. Test by squeezing a small amount together. If it doesn’t hold together, add water, a tablespoon at a time.
Each pop tart is going to be 3″ across by 4″ long, so divide dough into two equal roughly rectangular pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle just slightly more than 9″ across and slightly more than 12″ down on a pretty heavily floured surface, which will (eventually) give you 9 pop tarts, three rows across and three rolls down in a grid pattern.
Trim one long side of the dough into a straight line. Working from that line, mark off three inches to the right, then three inches from that mark, then the right side. Trim the right side. Working from the top side of the pastry, trim, then mark off four inches down, four inches from that mark, then four inches for the bottom. Trim off the bottom into a straight line.
Fill each pop tart with about 2 tablespoons of filling leaving an edge of about 1/2″ around the outside of each marked off rectangle. Carefully pick up the top piece of pastry and transfer it directly over the bottom piece. Starting in the center, press down with the edge of your palms in the areas between the filling and then press the outside edges.
Using the edge of the ruler to cut, true up the top piece, trimming it evenly with the bottom around all outside edges, making sure your pastry is still 9″ across and 12″ long. Mark off the individual pop tarts just like you did for the bottom piece, then cut with the edge of the ruler evenly along the marks. Separating each pop tart one by one from the remainder, press down around the outside edges with the tines of a fork. If the pop tart has become misshapen if desired, even the edges again. Transfer to baking sheet.
Place pop tarts in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Right before baking, prick the tops of the pop tart over the filling several times with a fork. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the pastry is cooked through and the pop tarts are golden brown.
For the glaze:
Whisk together powdered sugar and milk along with any desired flavoring, adding more milk until glaze is a spreadable consistency. If you’d like a very thick glaze, use 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and very little milk. Spread on cooled Pop Tarts. Add decorations or sprinkles as desired. Note: glaze will firm a bit as it sits but will always be a bit soft.
Note: if you have bread flour on hand, substitute 1/2 cup of bread flour for 1/2 cup of the flour for a slightly sturdier pastry.
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