Over the last few months I have totally fallen head-over-heels for a blog called Smitten Kitchen. The recipes, photography and witty prose are everything that I could only ever dream that my blog could be. She also happens to have thousands, or maybe even tens or hundreds of thousands of readers and I have none really (in effect I am talking to myself which is both a bit weird and a bit sad). The author Deb truly is a fantastic writer and manages to transport her readers to her tiny little oven of a NYC apartment. After reading her posts for a while you feel like you come to know her husband and darling baby son and you just want to be invited round for dinner. I suppose that this is one of the amazing things about the internet. It can make people who are on opposite sides of the globe feel like they are neighbours.
I have tried a few of her recipes recently and I will eventually force myself to move on to another recipe source, but her creations just look so absolutely fantastic I just want to make them immediately so that I can 'taste the picture'. The latest re-creation is pop-tarts. Living in the UK and never having been to America (only Canada which is not the same) I have not had very much exposure to pop-tarts. I do believe that I have had them once before on a long-ago trip to Canada where upon seeing them in the shops, we just had to get some as pop-tarts for breakfast is what they do on TV. I honestly do not really remeber what they tasted like, so they cannot have been particularly awful or particularly great. Simply forgettable. Besides, my appreciation for food was not as developed all those years ago so I did not have the sense to read the lable to see the horrors in the ingredients list.
So pop-tarts is was this weekend, and previously having been terrified of pastry due to a couple of long-ago super-glueishly stick or sandy dry pastry attmepts, I had mot made any in SO long until last month. Now, after a couple of attempts I have made friends with the pastry gods and now am feeling quite comfortable with it (I know that saying this will probably jinx me but I'll chance it).
Homemade Pop Tarts
Adapted from King Arthur Flour by Deb at Smitten Kitchen (baking goddess)
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk
1 additional large egg (to brush on pastry)
Cinnamon Filling (enough for 9 tarts)
1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling
3/4 cup (8 ounces) jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
Alternate fillings: 9 tablespoons chocolate chips, 9 tablespoons Nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut paste or 9 tablespoons of a delight of your choice, such as salted caramel or a nut paste
To make cinnamon filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.
To make jam filling: Mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Use to fill the pastry tarts.
Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk the first egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.
Divide the dough in half (approximately 8 1/4 ounces each), shape each half into a smooth rectangle, about 3×5 inches. You can roll this out immediately (see Warm Kitchen note below) or wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Assemble the tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. [You can use a 9" x 13" pan, laid on top, as guidance.] Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside. Cut each piece of dough into thirds – you’ll form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.
Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. This will be the “inside” of the tart; the egg is to help glue the lid on. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. Place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using 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 place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. 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. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.
Charming tip from King Arthur: Sprinkle the dough trimmings with cinnamon-sugar; these have nothing to do with your toaster pastries, but it’s a shame to discard them, and they make a wonderful snack. While the tarts are chilling, bake these trimmings for 13 to 15 minutes, till they’re golden brown.
Bake the tarts: Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Cool in pan on rack.