27 January 2013

Homemade Pop Tarts

Right now  I'm staring at a vacuum that I didn't pick up today. It was a long day culminating in a tumbler or two of red wine on the couch that I drank just a tad too fast while listening to Ella, Nina and Sam Cooke and then watching last week's episode of Girls from a possibly dubious source since I don't get HBO or have a screen beyond my laptop for that matter. Like a lot of people, I can't decide what I think of this show and I don't relate a lot of it anymore, but since I spent my early 20s flailing in NYC, I of course, tune in.

But let's rewind to the morning and change the subject totally. I am going to give you the best excuse to eat pie for breakfast: a pop tart from your oven.

No not the ones in the box. Forget them. It's just good jam tucked into flaky pie dough (ok, yeah, but with a nutritional punch from some wholesome rye flour) brushed with egg and kissed with a pinch of sugar for a lovely brown hue, and a send off to your oven and that's all. No cornstarch, no toaster, no glazes and nothing else required for this pastry, except a pastry scraper and brush.

Ahem...let's clear something up about this pie dough.While I understand that there is only a small sect of people out there who can get up on a random morning and have the 2 hours it takes to make, chill, rest and roll pie dough, have no fear--the point of these tarts is their ability to be made ahead, frozen and baked on demand that morning you wish them at your table.

Bonus if you use the opportunity to make some dough in general ahead of time to have a few rounds on hand for future galettes, pop tarts and quiche dough (well, anyway, that's my plan going forward so I don't chicken out of making galettes or empanadas at the last minute). They keep in the fridge for 3 days and freezer for a lot longer (just defrost in the fridge for a day).  

Yet, truly, I'm still a bit tepid to make a ton of dough at once because I am still mastering the technique and don't want to end up with a bunch of tough dough and wasted butter if I mess up.. BUT. The key to pie dough is faith and trust and a solid method. As I've said before, I look to Chez Pim for this and I am a believer and have become more confident every time I make dough her way. This was a good round.

And yet, the beauty of making little tarts to order is that the amount you use is not that big. Most pie dough recipes you'll see measure out to make 2 standard 9-inch rounds, and I usually halve this because, well, we've gone over the fact that I am an expensive European butter rationer, and day-to-day, I don't have a lot of people to feed. So I love the art of halving.

See above. This is a time in life when I endorse flakiness. A lot of it. Layered flakiness. That comes from the all-butterness and the folding and rolling the of dough.  I promise you if you practice the Pim method you'll start to get the palming and folding process which creates the more puff pastry-esque quality we're going for.

These tarts made with this dough and decent jam (I used a wild blueberry mixed with a hint of leftover pear butter--but you can use anything so long as it has a thickness to it, i.e., not a runny jam) are seriously a morning or afternoon treat.

They can be formed into tarts and placed on the baking sheet, covered in plastic tightly and kept overnight that way in the freezer until you're ready to bake the next morning, or if it will be a few days, after flash freezing on the pan for a bit, wrap the frozen tarts in plastic and foil and place in a freezer bag until ready to bake on the day. Working in advance is the best kitchen advice I've picked up from the internet, cooking memoirs and cookbooks. Because the bottom line is, you usually cook what you have.

One last thing here before the recipe: I endorse a high-ish temperature at 400 degrees as I think it browns them beautifully in less time and gives a stronger flake. Just let them cool several minutes before eating...just enough time on a cooling rack while you make the coffee.

Makes 2 rounds, enough for 4 good size pop tarts.

scant 1/3 c rye flour
3/4 c unbleached all purpose flour
pinch salt
1/2 c (1 stick salted butter)
2 T cold water

Follow this method. Do the folding 3-4 times. 

2 heaping Tablespoons strong jam of your choice (I used Bonne Maman wild blueberry) 

To Bake
1 egg, whisked
Few pinches turbinado sugar

Start by making the dough. It works best if made ahead of time but you can certainly do all it at once. If you made 2 small rounds using the measurements listed above and want to make 2 good size pop tarts, use one of the rounds. If you want to make 4, use both.

Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Work quickly to keep dough cold. Roll out the dough into a rectangle or as best you can, and use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 4 squares. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of jam into the center of two pieces. Place the other two pieces of dough carefully on top, press the edges together, crimp the sides with a fork and trim it slightly with a sharp knife to look pretty then prick all over (see picture). Place the tart on baking sheet.

If working with a few tarts at once, place the sheet in freezer while you repeat the process on the other tarts. Then freeze them covered in plastic tightly to bake the next day, or after they've frozen, wrap in plastic and foil and place in a freezer bag.

Fifteen minutes before you're ready to bake the tarts, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Get dressed or do something : )

Then take the tarts out and prep them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Crack an egg and dip a pastry brush in, brush the tarts with egg, sprinkle with a bit of turbinado sugar (don't skip, it gives a great crust) and place the tray into the oven.

Bake 15- 22 minutes. Set the timer for 15 minutes and start checking then. Look for nicely browned tops and bottoms and edges. Rotate the pan and give it another few minutes but not much more. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool, eat at whatever temperature you desire. I think they are best a few notches warmer than room temp so they've set but are still a little warm. Bon appetit!

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