Saturday, May 8, 2010

Killer Breakfast: Homemade Strawberry Pop Tarts

I was reminiscing about the good old days while I made homemade pop tarts last weekend.

I had spied a recipe in a Bon Appetit issue and it came to mind when I was looking for a quick baking fix. I already had left over dough in the freezer from the lattice for the strawberry-rhubarb pie I made a few weeks ago and I used my Aunt Ferolyn’s Shelley's (turns out these preserves were from my other aunt- thanks to Mom for the reminder) amazing strawberry preserves for the filling. All that was required was a simple assembly job. 

You might think when I referred to the good old days above, I was talking about my childhood and a love of pop tarts. Now how boring would that be?

So instead I’m going to talk about an experience from my first “real” job.  

Fresh out of grad school, I took a job as a research assistant at a medical school. The head of our lab was a psychiatrist who was brilliant but quirky (stereotypes are so often true). For the purposes of this post, I’ll call him Dr. Psychiatrist. You just never know who’s reading…

Dr. Psychiatrist hated, just hated, to throw anything away. From pencil stubs to useless datasets, he never wanted to let go of anything. It was a running joke amongst his staff, in which I freely participated- until the joke was on me. He knew his staff ragged on him constantly and he delighted in paying us back. Since I was a newbie and gullible, Dr. Psychiatrist decided to saddle me with the “Food and Mood” dataset.

This dataset was a useless pile of data from food logs and mood assessments left over from an old research study. I later learned that, despite several attempts, no one had ever successfully been able to pull any useful findings from the data. I’d like to think Dr. Psychiatrist had great confidence in my abilities, but more likely, he probably sadistically enjoyed watching me chase my tail. Like any good psychiatrist, he was a world-class manipulator.

Dr. Psychiatrist arranged a meeting for me with a nutritionist to discuss possible correlations to explore between foods and human behaviors. This nutritionist was even wackier than Dr. Psychiatrist. I suspect he well knew this and I bet it tickled him to no end to set me up. That’s the thing about working in the psych field- paranoia is a job hazard. And nowhere is the old adage truer, “just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.”

The short version of the story is that, in our meeting, the nutritionist went off on a rant about how breakfast foods are making children violent. Huh? Yep, you read that right. She was convinced that the most important meal of the day was turning children into maniacal killers. Looking back, I’m sure the actual premise of her argument was based on the increase in child behavioral disorders coinciding with increased use of suspect food additives and the enormously high sugar content in most foods marketed to children. It’s an interesting argument, but she was such a wack-a-doo, it was hard to take her irate rambling seriously. Besides, this was back in 1998 before we were all Pollanized so I just wrote her off as nut job who bought off on the “Twinkie Defense.” Nowadays, her hypothesis seems a little more plausible. 

Needless to say, I didn’t get any helpful direction from my visit with the nutritionist, nor did I extract any scientific breakthroughs from the “Food and Mood” data. I did get a good story from the experience and, thinking back on it, it still makes me laugh. I guess I should thank Dr. Psychiatrist for that. 

Homemade Strawberry Pop Tarts

from Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit called for serving the pop tarts with a light dusting of powdered sugar and fresh strawberries. It’s just not a pop tart to me unless it has icing and sprinkles so I included additional ingredients and an extra step for frosting.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour plus additional for shaping and rolling
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons ice water
12 tablespoons strawberry preserves (preferably organic and/or homemade)
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Whisk 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, coarse salt, and sugar in large bowl. Add butter. Using fingertips or back of fork, blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water by tablespoonfuls, tossing until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball. Divide in half; shape each half into disk. Wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour. 
2. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough on floured surface to about 13x11 inches. Trim to 12x10-inch rectangle, then cut into eight 5x3-inch rectangles.
3. Arrange 4 rectangles, spaced apart, on each sheet. Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons preserves in row down center of each rectangle. Top preserves with second dough rectangle. Using fingertips, gently press all edges of each tart to seal; press all edges with tines of fork to double-seal. Using toothpick, poke a few holes in center of top dough rectangle. Cover; freeze tarts on sheets at least 2 hours and up to 1 week.
4. Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake frozen tarts uncovered until golden, reversing sheets after 15 minutes, 25 to 30 minutes total (some preserves may leak out). Immediately transfer tarts to rack.
5. For icing, in a small bowl add milk to 1/2 cup powdered sugar until desired consistency. Use a teaspoon to spoon onto pop tarts and use the back of the spoon to spread the icing evenly. Top with your favorite sprinkles and serve.


  1. Oh Yum! This is the second homemade Pop Tart blog post I've read today. This means I have to make them. Have you tried to re-toast/re-bake them? I wonder if I can make a bunch, put them in the fridge (instead of the freezer) and have them for breakfast for a week.

  2. They keep pretty well so I definitely think you could make a week's supply and store in the fridge. I reheated a pop tart I made in the microwave but a toaster oven would probably work better and be tastier.

  3. We're glad to know you enjoyed making this recipe, Shelley. I've posted a link to your post on the original recipe.

    Karen Wilson