A masterful vehicle for sweet, nourishing on-the-go snacking.Jump to Recipe
I’ve been getting a LOT of questions and requests for the homemade, whole-grain pop tarts you’ve been seeing pop up regularly on my Instagram feed recently. (Thanks! I’m so flattered!) And, at last, here’s the recipe…or a strong, trusty blueprint as it were.
So – pop tarts!
It used to be that a “pop tart” was a square little sweet made with scant amounts of fruit, lots of synthetic sweeteners encased in a cardboard-like-crust of flour stripped of its soul and nutrients, sprinkled with stabilizers so it could keep its shape for eternity inside a reflective wrapper. No more.
These pop tarts don’t have a wrapper, but do have lots of love + fresh fruit baked in an effing notable crust. And, you can make them anytime you want.
I wrote this recipe years back but lately have been tweaking it, making them more and more as a way of bringing some mindfulness into busy kitchen days, with an upgraded crust using the whole-grain, locally-grown-and-milled flours I’ve been buying from Moxie Bread. It’s a massive change for me and the pop tarts.
They’re the type of kitchen project that requires quiet, calm, space and a general chill attitude.
First, you make a dough, you let it rest, you shape it, measure it, let it rest, fill it, let it rest, bake it and FINALLY you have pop tarts. Unlike banana bread (that seems to come together even better in chaos) These require some space. Don’t let the work or the process deter you – it’s WORTH it. I promise.
There are several reasons: conscience, taste, sustainability, and gluten-quality. These are differences you can taste, feel and see in the process of making the tarts, in the finished tarts and in your body when you eat them with joy. When you shift to using whole grains instead of generic “all-purpose flour,” you’ll taste the difference because different grains have different flavors.
When those flours have to fly across the country, they have to fly across the country they lose some of that flavor (just like freshly ground coffee does.) Freshly ground coffee smells tantalizing, right, straight out of the grinder? Grains are the same, and the faster you can enjoy the flours they make the more incredible their flavor. Lastly, most bodies digest whole grains better than their over-processed counterparts. Bottom line: if you can, DO. My pastry-chef soul sings about it, and yours will too.
Now, the dough for these pop tarts is my standard whole-grain pie crust made unapologetically with 100% butter and I swap out flours depending on whatever I’m working with for the filling. I typically use at least two flours to make the crust – most recently einkorn and a wheat called “turkey red.” I could launch into a diatribe of different kinds of wheat, how the tastes are different depending on where they grow, etc. But know that both are whole grain, relatively high in protein as grains go, and their flavors go particularly well with stone fruits, and also brown sugar and cinnamon (which is one of my personal favorite pop tarts,) so that’s what I’ve written up in this recipe.
Pick a small one that carries specialty products over a large one and don’t be afraid to ask questions about their selection of flours! Check your local farmers market too. If these ideas sound like a pain and you want exceptional flours delivered to your door, these spots are my favorites: Anson Mills, Bluebird Grain Farms and Hayden Flour Mills all grown and mill grain in the Rocky Mountain/West Coast regions. If you’re in Colorado, of course, I suggest getting to Moxie.
Even if you can’t find einkorn or a winter wheat, I would suggest swapping in quinoa, spelt, oat or another whole grain flour that you love or that piques your interest. Pick something nutty!
One last thing: in the recipe below I give you three different filling recipes for your tarts; a fresh-fruit option, a jam option and a lovely, simple cinnamon-brown sugar option. The fresh fruit option is basically making your own jam and I would suggest this once you get the hang (and the sense) for how long making pop tarts takes in your kitchen. The jam option is an amazing way to use favorite jam, and the cinnamon-brown sugar is just heavenly (and FAST.)
Once you’ve picked a flour, you’re ready to make the dough which is the trickiest but the easiest-to-learn element of making pop tarts – I promise. With practice, and by strictly following the tips below, it takes just 45-mins to an hour or so of prep time (I split this between days, to be honest) to have flaky pop tarts in your pockets. Make some space for the process, take your time and enjoy!
Be sure to check out my other recipe notes listed below for all the must-know info to master the art of making dough for these pocket-friendly pop tarts!
Flavors are FUN, yes, but they also are the mechanisms by which our bodies nourish themselves. Flavors basically tell our bodies what the food is giving us – on a nutritional and energetic level. Our bodies then prepare enzymes to break those components down, assimilate them, and turn them into fuel for our vibrant lives. We can’t eat just one flavor and get all of the things we need, so learning to track the flavors in our foods helps us to be sure that we’re really getting all of the things we need in our meals. This particular recipe has __ of six flavors. The more flavors we can enjoy in any meal or food, the happier and more balanced our bodies will be. If you’re wanting to learn more about how the flavors we eat fuel our bodies – energetically and nutritively, check out this little blog post.
A masterful vehicle for sweet, nourishing on-the-go snacking.
In the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix flours, salt, and sugar. Add butter and pulse until coarse meal forms.
Mix 5 tablespoons ice water and vinegar in small bowl to blend. Drizzle the vinegar over flour mixture in the food processor; pulse quickly, until dough begins to pull together into a cohesive ball. (You can add a touch more water, just a tablespoon at a time, if your dough needs some help!)
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface – gather dough into ball being careful not to overwork or knead excessively; knead a few times to be sure the dough comes together into a cohesive dough, then flatten and press into two equally sized rectangles.
This is important because it the rectangle shape will help you to quickly roll out your pop tarts when you shape them (instead of needing to coax a round disk of dough into a rectangle!)
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour (or up to a week in advance of when you want to make the pop tarts!)
For jam or cinnamon-brown sugar filling:
Simply combine the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
For the fresh fruit filling:
Place the fruit in a small saucepan. Whisk the cornstarch with the sugar, and pour over the berries. Add the salt and lemon juice, stirring to combine.
Place the saucepan on a burner set to medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the small amount of liquid in the bottom of the pan comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked berries to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. It’s fine to make the filling ahead of time, and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
Remove the dough rectangle from the fridge and allow to soften on the countertop for 10 minutes or so. This will allow it to be workable and will prevent you from accidentally overworking cold dough!
Now, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a larger rectangle about 1/8″ thick, and large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. Use your ruler or a 9″ x 13″ pan, laid on top, as guidance! Using your ruler and pizza cutter, score one of the pieces of dough in half (roughly at the 4.5″ inch mark.) Then, score along the long side of the dough in 3″ inch increments. You should have at least 8 little rectangles of dough for each piece of dough or 16 pieces total (enough for 8 pop tarts!) Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside.
At this point, I like to place all of the little rectangles on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and pop them into the fridge to cool. Just 20 minutes or so will do the trick. In the meantime, I clean up my floury countertop and prepare myself to assemble and bake the tarts. (Remember – keep that dough cool!)
Once the dough is cool to the touch again, beat the additional egg and brush it around the edges of half of the little dough rectangles while they’re on the baking sheet. These will be the bottoms of your pop tarts and the egg is to help glue the lid on.
Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each egg-painted rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2″ perimeter around it. Place a second rectangle of dough atop the first and use your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.
Gently arrange the tarts on the parchment-lined baking sheets so that they have at least 1-2″ in between – this ensures even, golden baking. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries.
Return them to the fridge while your oven preheats to 400°F degrees!
Once the oven is hot, and the dough is cool again to the touch, remove the tarts from the fridge and brush them with the remaining egg wash. At this point, I like to sprinkle them with a little bit of sugar so they really get golden, then pop them in the oven until golden brown with boiling juices escaping from the edges of the tarts. This will take about 20-25 minutes, but maybe less in your oven so don’t walk away!
Remove the tarts from the oven to allow to cool, and enjoy!