Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Homemade Pop-Tarts

When I was a kid, we ate cereal for breakfast almost every day.  And although I loved cereal, having something else for breakfast, especially on a school day, was a pretty big deal.  Every now and then my siblings and I would whine enough at the grocery store and my mom would buy us a box of Pop-Tarts.  Those toasted pastry crusts with hot fruity filling (because they didn't have all those crazy flavors back then!) where quite a treat back in the day.  Now, not so much.

Maybe my pallet has over-evolved, but a store-bought Pop-Tart just doesn't do anything for me anymore.  They are hard, artificial tasting, and just not very good.  No thanks.  But a homemade version of a Pop-Tart?  Now we're talking.  These are REAL pastry crusts.  That means flaky and buttery, not hard and cardboard-tasting.  And they have REAL filling.  Read the ingredients.  You can actually pronounce them.  Put that filling in between two of pieces of that pastry crust, and you get something that is absolutely fabulous.  Cold cereal has nothing on these babies!

With all that being said, keep in mind that it does take a little more time to make this homemade version of a Pop-Tart then it does to remove a foil wrapper and pop a store-bought pastry in the toaster.  But after one life-changing taste of these homemade pastries, you will know that it was worth every second.  And I promise it really isn't hard to do, just a little time consuming.  

These would be awesome to make if you are having house guests, or for a special occasion breakfast.  To make that morning better, I would recommend preparing these the day before and refrigerating them.  Then just stick 'em in the oven when you are ready to make them.  And be prepared to be amazed.
When I made these, I thought I did a really good job of sealing the edges so that the filling wouldn't escape out of the crust.  I was wrong.  So my strawberry pastries were a wee-bit messy.  Therefore, another tip from my experience is that if you are lacking confidence in your crust-sealing abilities, maybe stick with the cinnamon sugar pastries, or bake the strawberry filled pastries in a rimmed baking sheet so you don't end up with strawberry filling on the bottom of your oven.  Don't be like me!
Now, after looking at the pictures of these pastries, and probably drooling a little bit, let's be honest with ourselves.  Kellogg's, the makers of Pop-Tarts, has finally accepted the fact that Pop-Tarts aren't exactly the breakfast of champions.  You may have noticed that some of their commercials are blatantly advertising Pop-Tarts as a dessert.  They even have flavors now such as "Confetti Cupcake" and "Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough."  

So I am going to put the disclaimer out there that these are not part of a healthy breakfast (although I did make mine with some whole wheat flour!).  It is basically an excuse to eat pie first thing in the morning.  But it is oh-so-good!  Anyway, if you are a bit squeamish about eating a day's worth of butter and sugar by the time you have finished your morning coffee, feel free to serve these as dessert.  It doesn't matter when you eat them, you will love them just the same!

Homemade Pop-Tarts
For the pastry crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 egg
2 Tbsp skim milk
For the cinnamon sugar filling:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp all-purpose flour
For the strawberry filling:
3/4 cup strawberry jam (or other flavor)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water
To make cinnamon sugar filling:  whisk together ingredients in a small bowl
To make strawberry filling: whisk together the cornstarch and water, and then combine with the jam in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and let cool.
To make pastry crust:  In a food processor or large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, and salt.  Cut in butter until it is the size of peas and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it.  Whisk together the egg and milk and add to the dough.  Mix together until everything is evenly moistened.  Add additional milk if needed to form a ball.  Knead briefly on a floured surface until dough comes together.
Divide dough in half (at this point you can wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days).  Roll out one piece of dough to about 1/8 inch thick, in a 9 1/2 by 12 1/2 rectangle (if you refrigerated the dough, let it come to room temperature for about 15 minutes before rolling).  
Using a sharp knife, pastry wheel, or pizza cutter, trim the rectangle to 9x12-inch rectangle.  Cut the sheet of dough into nine 3x4-inch rectangles.  Using a spatula, transfer the rectangles to a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  Brush a lightly beaten egg on each of the rectangles.  Spoon a tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch space around the edges.
Roll out and cut the second piece of dough in the same manner as  you did the first.  One at a time, place a second rectangle of dough on top of the nine assembled ones.  Using your fingers, press around the seams of the dough to make sure they are sealed.  Press the tines of a fork around the edges of the rectangle.  Prick the tops of the rectangle in multiple spots to allow steam to escape.
Refrigerate the pan with the pastries for about 30 minutes, or overnight (cover if refrigerating overnight).  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool slightly before serving.  Store pastries in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Makes 9.  Recipe adapted slightly from Brown Eyed Baker

1 comment:

  1. Oh my this looks delicious!! I'm seriously drooling over this right now :)