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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How to make your own homemade "pop tarts"


Ok, these are not pop-tarts exactly, how about just-like-pop-tarts-but-without-the-stuff-you-can't-spell (or say)?  It's super easy, all you need is a good butter pie dough and delicious jam of your choice.  And if you're one of those who think a great pie is all about a good crust--I am of course one--these pop-tarts are perfect for you.  They are filled with just enough delectable jam to punctuate the flavor without obscuring the buttery, flaky goodness of the crust.

I've been having so much fun making them (and eating them) lately, I thought I'd share a few tricks I picked up along the way with you so your pop-tarts come out perfect every time.  Like this one in the picture just below--a "pop-tart" filled with homemade Reine Claude plums and vanilla beans--which I polished off in three seconds flat right in front of Lulu's at the Octagon in Santa Cruz.


Start with the pie crust recipe you're most comfortable with.  If you haven't got one, you can check out Pie Crust 101 over at Deb's Smitten Kitchen, or Shuna's very thorough post on pies, or even Ms.Martha herself.


Break off a piece about 75g by weight.  Flour the pastry board or your counter top well.   


Roll the dough into 8"x6" rectangle, working gently and slowly so you get a good rectangular shape.


Brush off excess flour.  It's generally a good idea from this point on to place the dough sheet onto a piece of parchment paper so it can be moved pretty easily.


Pick your favorite jam from your cupboard and spread it generously on to one side of the dough, leaving about an inch margin on three sides.  I like to use jams that are a little bit on the thicker side, as they tend to be more intense and can easily be pressed in between two sheets of dough.


Fold the dough in half, making sure they match the other edge perfectly.  Press down along the edges to seal the dough pocket.  If your dough had trouble sticking together, try dipping your fingertip into a bit of water and wipe it along the inside of the seam, then press the dough down again to seal. 


Take a fork and use the tines to press the dough together, creating a nice pattern around all the edges but the folding seam.


Trim off the excess, uneven dough edges.  I use a pastry scraper, but you can easily use a kitchen knife.


Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle raw sugar over the top.  Cut a few vents along the top of the pop-tarts.


Et voila!  Bake in preheated 400F (about 200C) oven for 18-20 minutes, depending on the amount of sugar in the crust and many other factors.  I'd recommend checking at the 15-min mark and continue to keep your eye on them, and take them out of the oven as soon as they are nicely golden brown and not too brown on the crimped edges.


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