I was feeling a bit ambitious this past weekend, and decided to try making pop tarts from scratch. I thought it would be a really great way to start Father’s Day morning, and my husband and kids were obviously very supportive of this culinary decision of mine, so I made the decision to give them a go.
The recipe itself has a couple of components that need chilling, so it’s ideal to start in on the recipe a day in advance. The two parts that you want to knock out first are the strawberry jam and the dough. Once you have these steps done, all you have to do is roll out the dough and assemble. If you can’t get to these steps ahead of time, don’t worry! Make the jam first, and place it in the freezer to get it as cold as possible. Then make the dough and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
The jam component of this recipe is a very quick and easy approach to making a fruit preserve. I promise you don’t need any special equipment to make this… all you do is place your strawberries in a pan along with some sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch, bring it to a boil, mash up the strawberries with a potato masher and continue cooking for a few more minutes in order to let the cornstarch thicken the juices. Transfer the hot mixture to a shallow dish (this will help it cool more quickly), and refrigerate until cold. If you don’t plan on using this for a pop tart filling, serve it with scones or spread it on toast or a bagel. It’s so delicious!
The dough component of the recipe comes together very easily. You cream together the butter and cream cheese, add the sugar and salt, and then mix in the flour. That’s it! I recommend using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, but a hand mixer will work just fine. Just be careful not to overmix… this will result in a tough dough, and we want it to be light and flaky.
Place the dough (it’s okay if it’s a bit shaggy) on a piece of plastic wrap and use your hands to form it into a disk that’s about 1-inch thick. This will make it easier to roll. Place in the fridge and chill until cold, at least 1 hour. I chilled mine overnight, so before rolling out the dough I put it out on my countertop for about 10 minutes. This allowed the dough to soften just a bit, which made it easier to work with. Once I had the jam and dough done, I was well on my way! On Father’s Day morning, I grabbed my dough, fired up the oven and got my sheet trays ready.
I rolled out the dough on a floured surface into a roughly 15-inch square. I trimmed the ragged edges, and then cut the dough into 8 rectangles.
I spooned the filling just off center, applied a little egg wash on the edges, folded the dough over the jam and sealed the edges with a gentle press.
A little fork crimping made for a nice decorative touch.
To give the pop tarts a sheen, I brushed the tops with egg wash (the same egg wash used to seal the edges), used a sharp knife to cut a little steam hole in the top, and baked them until golden brown. It took about 23 minutes.
I made the glaze while the pop tarts were cooling… it’s just a very simple flat icing consisting of powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Mine was a tad thick, so I added a teaspoon of milk to get it to the right consistency. It should still be a bit thick, but not so thick where it can’t be spooned on top of the cooled pop tarts. If you want to decorate with sprinkles, do this right after you spoon the glaze on top. Otherwise the glaze will set, and the sprinkles won’t stick.
I’m so glad I decided to make this recipe. It was very straightforward, fun to make, incredibly delicious and put big smiles on my family’s faces!
Pop Tarts with Homemade Jam and Vanilla Glaze
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: 8 pop tarts
Active time: 45 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour, 5 minutes
For the cream cheese pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks unsalted butter, at a cool room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at a cool room temperature
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the jam:
2 cups strawberries, stemmed and quartered
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
For the lemon glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon milk (if needed)
1. To prepare the cream cheese pastry, measure the flour into a small bowl, and set aside.
2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, lightly cream together the butter and cream cheese.
3. Beat in the sugar, vanilla, and salt and continue to mix until just combined.
4. Add the flour in two batches, each time beating until just combined.
5. Transfer the finished dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and pat into a 1/2-inch-thick square. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least one hour before using.
6. While the dough is chilling, prepare the jam filling. In a medium-size saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until the strawberries have released their juices.
7. Using a potato masher, mash the strawberries until they are almost entirely broken down. Note: If a few small pieces of strawberry remain that’s fine.
8. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil, while stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.
9. Pour the jam into a shallow dish, and refrigerate until cold.
10. Once the dough has chilled, place it on your countertop for a few minutes so that it becomes a bit more pliable before rolling.
11. Preheat the oven to 400º, and line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
12. Generously flour your work surface. Roll out the dough into roughly a 15-inch square. Use a pizza wheel to trim the ragged edges.
13. Cut the dough in half horizontally, and then vertically into 8 rectangles.
14. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the strawberry jam on each rectangle, just off center.
15. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash, and fold in half. Using your fingers, gently press the edges together. To create a decorative edge, use the tines of a fork to gently crimp all four edges.
16. Place the pop tarts on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Brush the tops with the egg wash, and then cut a vent hole in each for steam to escape.
17. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool.
18. While the pop tarts are cooling, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract until a smooth glaze is formed. If the glaze is too thick, add a teaspoon of milk.
19. Drizzle over the tops of the pop tarts, and allow to set at room temperature before enjoying.
Guess what? We are actually featuring this recipe in our Virtual Kids Baking and Pastry Camp that starts on July 7th. Join us virtually as we teach your kids how to make delicious baked goods while learning about essential baking pastry skills and techniques.
- Tuesday, July 7, 2020 3pm-4pm
- Wednesday, July 8, 2020 3pm-4pm
- Thursday, July 9, 2020 3pm-4pm