Homemade Pop Tarts
As inexpensive as prepackaged toaster pastries are, you might be wondering why make your own. First of all, you get to add as many sprinkles as you want! Plus, Homemade Pop Tarts taste better than the store bought kind and are absolutely worth the calories.
Pop-Tarts and Pop Art
Pop-Tarts are the only food I know whose name was inspired by an art movement. Cereal giant Kellogg’s started mass production of Pop-Tarts in 1964 but at the time called them Fruit Scones. I know, yawn.
Pop Art was an art movement in mid-century America and the U.K. This movement was a mash-up of popular culture and ordinary objects painted in bright colors. Instantly recognizable examples include Andy Warhol’s Campbell soup cans and Roy Lichtenstein's graphic art.
Some brilliant person at Kellogg’s changed the (very boring) name of their Fruit Scones to something that reflected the current pop art movement. And so, the name Pop-Tarts was born. You can read all about it on the Pop-Tart history timeline.
Originally, the rectangular-shaped pastries were available in four different types of fillings: apple-currant, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and strawberry. Eaten straight from the package or heated in a toaster, they became popular breakfast fare. Frosted varieties soon followed as well as new flavors and the addition of sprinkles.
Sprinkles are merely powdered sugar, egg white, and food coloring piped into thin lines, left to dry, and broken into tiny pieces. Where did they originate? Their past is complicated and slightly murky like that of your best friend’s ex.
Some historians point to early 20th-century Dutch “hagelslag” (translation: hail storm), which are basically chocolate sprinkles, as the starting point. People in Holland press hagelslag en masse onto buttered bread and call it breakfast. The Dutch really know how to start a day off right.
In the northeastern part of the U.S., people call these itty bitty candy toppings “jimmies.” Supposedly named after their inventor, jimmies have been scattered over ice cream cones and sundaes in the New England area since the 1940s.
Fun fact: the British name for sprinkles is “hundreds and thousands.”
Sprinkles as a category encompasses several different types of miniature candy toppings that can be round (nonpareils), flat (confetti), or pearl-like (dragees). One of the most common types is the elongated rod-shaped variety that is opaque and multi-colored.
Once relegated to a six-year-old’s birthday cake and the occasional celebratory ice cream sundae, sprinkles have gone mainstream. In addition to cake and ice cream, they now appear on brownies, cookies, doughnuts, pancakes, popcorn, and yes, buttered bread. I’ve even seen them on the rim of cocktails.
They bring a little fun to everything.
- Can you make this with refrigerated pie crust dough? Yes. However, if you are a pie crust aficionado like I am, you will want to make your own crust from the recipe below. It makes a big difference.
- I found that the filling recipe makes the perfect amount of filling for the pop tarts! It’s easy to switch out the strawberry for other flavors of jam.
- This recipe is very customizable. Not into rectangles? Make another shape. Aversion to the frosting? Leave it out. Don’t like sprinkles (whaaat)? Use crushed nuts or other toppings instead. You’re an adult, so do what you want.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 16 Tbsp salted butter, frozen and grated
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 Tbsp vodka or milk, any kind
- ¾ cup strawberry jam
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp cold water
- 1 egg, lightly beaten for brushing on pastry
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp water or milk, any kind
- Sprinkles or other toppings as garnish
- Make the dough by combining flour, sugar, and salt. Add the grated butter and toss to combine. Pour in the egg and vodka and mix just until it comes together.
- Split the dough into two equal pieces. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and smoosh it down into a disc. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out. You can make the dough ahead and refrigerate it for up to 2 days, allowing it to sit at room temp 10 to 15 minutes before rolling.
- Make the filling by placing the jam in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir together the cornstarch and water until smooth and add to the jam. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes stirring occasionally as it thickens. Set aside to cool before filling the tarts.
- Generously flour a flat work surface. Roll out one piece of dough on the prepared surface into a large rectangle that is ⅛-inch thick. It should be rolled large enough until you are able to trim it into a 9 x 12-inch rectangle. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
- Using a ruler, measure and score one of the dough pieces into thirds. On the 9-inch side, you will be scoring the dough all the way across at the 3” and 6” marks. On the 12-inch side, you will be scoring at the 3”, 6”, and 9” marks. You should now have nine rectangles that measure 3 x 4 inches. Whew.
- Now, brush the beaten egg all over the pastry that has the score marks. Scoop a tablespoon of the cooled filling and place it in the center of each rectangle. Lay the second piece of dough on top of the one with the filling. Gently press around the mounds of filling to seal it on all sides.
- Cut the dough in between the sealed filling mounds using a pizza cutter or sharp knife into the nine 3 x 4-inch rectangles. Press all the cut edges together and then seal with the tines of a fork around all sides.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the sealed tarts on the prepared sheet and prick the tops with a fork to make steam holes. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and let chill for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 350 F/176 C. Bake the pop tarts for 30 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the pan.
- Make the frosting by stirring together the powdered sugar and water to form a thick but spoonable frosting. Now is the time to add a drop of food coloring if you wish. Drizzle the frosting on the cooled tarts and immediately scatter on the sprinkles so they stick before the frosting dries.
Keywords: homemade pop tarts