I’ve been meaning to make these for a very long time.
Let me tell you something – I love Pop Tarts. For reals. I love them in all of their corn syrup, weird cracker crust goodness. I know that they are terrible for you and probably filled with all kinds of terrible things. I know that they have gelatin in them. But every once in awhile – usually if they go on sale for a really low price – I can’t help but buy a box. I’ll toast them up and enjoy every last bite.
That said, when I first saw a recipe for making them at home, of course I knew they would be better. Truly, they are a different beast – I mean, when homemade, they are PASTRY, whereas the storebought ones….well I don’t even know what to call that hard-as-rocks crust. Homemade pop tarts are really just a standard hand pie, except that distinctive rectangular shape makes me feel like I just can’t call them anything but Pop Tarts. I decided long ago that these would be a part of this pie project. So finally, one Saturday night while most people my age were probably out drinking and dancing at a bar, I stayed home alone and made pop tarts. Worth it.
Both Deb and Alana had talked about making these, and I believe that both of their pastry recipes were adapted from King Arthur flour, which I assume is an American brand of flour that doesn’t exist here in Canudia. While something about using a straight up pie dough recipe was comforting to me, I decided to use Smitten Kitchen’s recipe and add an egg to the dough to make it sturdier. Now let me tell you – while I am still confident that Deb’s dough recipe was the best choice in terms of sturdiness and pick-up-able-ness, I really struggled to work with it. It’s a much drier dough than my pie crust usually is – more like a shortbread crust (like on a lemon square) and less like an elastic pastry. I found rolling it out extremely difficult – it kept wanting to crack and break. It was kind of a pain in the ass, actually. BUT they turned out well. I think I’d like to try out making something like this (or a hand pie in another shape) with a regular pie dough, and see how it is in terms of sturdiness, because I think it would be a lot easier to work with.
I decided to make mine with a rhubarb filling – I’d received rhubarb in my very first CSA pickup, and was remembering the rhubarb tarts I’d made a few years ago from this book (and pictured on the cover). Those tarts were GOOD. Actually, just now I noticed that Alana made these with rhubarb as well – something I hadn’t noticed because I’d been looking at the recipe from her cookbook rather than the blog. I guess in a lot of ways rhubarb makes the most sense for something like this – sometimes with summer berries I can’t bring myself to cook them down into mush – I just want to eat them whole and fresh while I can. But rhubarb is different – you want to cook it. I used the basic recipe for rhubarb compote from Kim Boyce’s book (an adaptation of which is accessible here) but instead of using Kim’s hibiscus or Deb’s vanilla bean, I opted to use ginger with the rhubarb. I’ve made a rhubarb ginger jam before that I quite enjoyed, and I find them to be really nice together. I also added a splash of orange juice because, why not? The recipe made quite a bit of compote – I still have a jar in the fridge, and it is great spooned onto yogurt or oatmeal in the morning.
- 3/4 lb rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- splash of orange juice
- approx. 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger (it grates really easily if you keep it in the freezer)
Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the rhubarb has fully broken down and it has reached your desired thickness. Remove from heat and let cool.
Pop Tarts (adapted primarily from Smitten Kitchen)
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup salted butter
- 1 egg
- 3 Tbsp milk (the original recipe calls for 2 Tbsp. but I found the dough way too dry and added a bit more)
- an additional egg
You make this dough the same way that you would make regular pastry – combine the dry ingredients, cut in the butter. Instead of adding ice water to bring the dough together, you beat one egg with the milk and use that as your liquid. This dough is WAY more dry than a normal pastry recipe. Like I mentioned, it is a bit more like a shortbread dough.
Chill dough. Roll out and cut into rectangles – about 2.5 inches by 4 inches. You should end up with 16 rectangles total – i.e. enough for the tops and bottoms of 8 pop tarts. The recipe was supposed to make more, but I couldn’t manage to get more than 8 tarts out of this. Do your best! Place 8 rectangles on a parchment lined baking sheet (or two baking sheets). Brush with beaten egg, this will help glue the two pieces together. Place a generous tablespoon (or a bit more) of compote in the middle of your bottom pastry – leaving at least a centimetre around the border. Place your top pastry on, and crimp closed by pressing a fork around the edges. Poke holes in the top to let the steam escape. You can brush with egg on top as well if you want, to help the pastry brown. Chill for 30 minutes before baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Any that you don’t devour right away can be reheated in a toaster or toaster oven – but keep an eye on them because they are a bit more delicate than the store-bought ones. YUM.