Every so often I get hungry for a pop-tart. Not the store-bought ones. Those taste like the cardboard box they are packaged in. I’m talking about a made-from-scratch, sweet-filled, flakey pastry with just the right amount of flavorful glaze on top. There are a few local bakeries that serve them, and they are delicious. But what is even better? Making them at home so you can eat them just out of the oven, still warm. Yum.
They can be made with different types of dough and can be stuffed with both sweet and savory fillings. You can make your own dough from scratch or use readymade dough. Same with the fillings, make them from scratch, or buy premade. Whichever you choose, they will still taste better than the dry, flavorless cardboard ones we ate as kids.
The techniques for assembling pop-tarts can also vary. The traditional rectangle shape is most recognizable, as is the folded triangle turnover shape. You can even use cookie cutters to make a variety of shapes. Whichever shape you choose, the key is achieving a fully-sealed edge, creating a pocket of filling that stays in the pop-tart.
I often make a batch of pop-tarts when I have leftover pie dough. I prepare and fill them, freeze them, and store them until I’m ready to bake at a later date.
Want to learn the techniques and get hands-on experience in making both sweet and savory pop-tarts? Then join us for our Pop-tarts class on Saturday, April 1. Call 217-786-2432 for more information. Until then, here is a recipe to try at home with made-from-scratch dough and premade fillings. Enjoy!
Yield: 18 rectangles (9 each 3x4 pop-tarts)
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt to combine. Add the butter, tossing the cubes through the flour until the pieces are separated from one another and each piece is coated.
Cut the butter into the flour by pressing the pieces between your palms or fingertips, flattening the cubes into big shards and continuing to toss them in the flour to recoat the shards. Or use a pastry blender or the tines of a fork. The size of the butter will vary from hazelnut to about the size of peas.
Make a well in the center of the mixture. Add 6 tablespoons ice water and mix it in by tossing the flour in the bowl.
Continue to add ice water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough begins to come together. As it comes together, fold it over itself a few times to make sure it’s homogenous. The dough should hold together without noticeable cracks.
Divide dough into two equal pieces, flatten to a 1 inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Use any store-bought filling such as jam, jelly, hazelnut spread or other nut butter, marshmallow fluff, chocolate ganache, cream cheese, brown sugar and cinnamon, or any combination of your favorite soft spreadable fillings.
Remove 1 chilled dough disc from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. This will help make the dough easier to roll and work with. Keep the other disc in the refrigerator. After 15 minutes, place disc onto a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick and 9×12 inches in size. Trim the sides as needed. Always be gentle with your pastry dough. You don’t want it to tear. Cut each piece of dough into thirds and each third into thirds again. You will end up with 9 rectangles, each measuring 3×4 inches.
Place each of the 9 rectangles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. The pop-tarts will not spread in the oven much, so you may place them relatively near one another. Place the baking sheet in the fridge. Roll 2nd disc out into a rectangle and cut into 9 even rectangles like you did with the first half of the dough. These nine rectangles will be the tops of your homemade pop-tarts. Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator as you prepare the filling.
Remove 1 baking sheet of rectangles from the refrigerator. Brush egg wash over the entire surface of each rectangle. These will be the bottoms of your pop-tarts and the egg wash will help glue the lid on. Place a heaping tablespoon of the prepared filling into the center of each rectangle, spread it around, leaving around 1/4 inch of space on the edges. Brush the second baking sheet of rectangles with egg wash, then place each rectangle on top of the filling-topped rectangles, egg wash side down. Use your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides.
Poke holes in the tops of each filled pastry to allow the steam to escape. This helps get your pop-tart pastry nice and flaky. I used a toothpick to poke 8 holes in each. Seal the edges by crimping with a fork, to prevent the sides from opening as the pop-tarts bake. Refrigerate the filled pop-tarts uncovered for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour. This chilling let the pop-tarts rest before baking. It also firms up the pastry since it has been out at room temperature for so long at this point.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Once unbaked pop-tarts have chilled for 20 minutes, remove from the refrigerator and brush the tops with the remaining egg wash. This egg wash will give your pastry that beautiful golden sheen. Bake for about 22-28 minutes or until they’re golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let the baked pop-tarts cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
Whisk 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, plus more as needed, and 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract together in a medium bowl until it reaches a spreading consistency. You want a thick glaze, but not too thick that it is hard to spread. Add another teaspoon or two of milk if needed. Use a spoon or knife to glaze each pop-tart. The glaze will slightly harden in about an hour if you prefer to wait that long.
Store pop-tarts in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 6 days. To reheat, bake in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management and Baking/Pastry, and non-credit cooking and food classes through LLCC Community Education.
Cooking or food questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.