Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Yes, My Darlings, I CAN Make Pop-Tarts!

Poptarts! I made pop-tarts! (Actually they’re “Toaster Pastries” my helpful hubby informed me. “Pop-Tarts are trademarked.”) Either way, this week I made delicious blueberry toaster pastries! The holy grail of my organic life with kids!  

As a child, I remember the yummy taste of pop-tarts, and when I had my own kids they were one of the first treats granted to them as toddlers. They loved the cinnamon ones best, just like I did, even burned. When we “went organic” as the kids call it in tones reminiscent of the phrase, “when we were strapped to the rack and tortured daily before being forced to eat things only a rabbit could love,” I discovered what a pop-tart is made of and that was the end of the pop-tart era at our house. 

Not long after, we discovered organic toaster pastries, but they were expensive and mean ole’ mom wouldn’t buy them except for special occasions (eternal car rides, weekends that mommy and daddy went away with out them, shots at the doctors). Since then my kids make a point of telling me about the Pop-tarts they eat at their friend’s houses. Another of their subtle reminders of how hard they have it. I’ve managed to make bagels, ice cream, and cookies that are better than the brand names, and my homemade cheezits are getting better with each attempt, but pop-tarts – I never thought they were possible. 

I discovered this recipe for Toaster Pastries at the library. I was perusing the new nonfiction while my son agonized over which Garfield books he would take out this week, and saw a cookbook with a picture of pop-tarts on the cover. Hmmm… It was titled the Homemade Pantry:101 foods you can stop buying and start making. The friendly text and plentiful pictures assured the reader she could do this, saving money and increasing the nutritional value in the process.  

My first thought was not a pleasant one. Damn! I could have written this book! Why didn’t I think of it, I’d be published! Still, I picked up the book looking for more tricks and treats. The pop-tart recipe looked simple and I could make it healthier by using whole wheat flour. The cheez-it recipe was different from the one I keep tinkering with, so I dog-eared the page and checked the book out.  

Homemade Pantry is a delightful read full of quirky sub-titles and stories of the author’s family. I grumbled quietly as I read, impressed and intimidated by the author’s clever format. Many of the recipes are very similar to my own. Great cookbook though, I do admit. 

I know you’re dying for me to tell you how to make your very own toaster pastries, so here it is (with pictures!) 

Make a basic pie crust. There is a recipe in the book, but I used MarkBittman’s recipe and substitute half whole wheat flour because it’s super easy and absolutely delicious.

Basic Pie Crust
1 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons flour

8 Tablespoons butter, cut in to pieces

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

3 Tablespoons Ice water

Place flour, salt, and sugar in food processor. Pulse several times to mix. Add butter and process long enough for it to begin to look crumbly. Place flour mixture in bowl and add ice water. Use your hands to work it in to a ball, don’t over work it or your crust won’t be flaky and light. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

I doubled the recipe and ended up with twelve toaster pastries.  So I would assume that one pie crust recipe equals six toaster pastries.
Toaster Pastries
When your crust has been chilled long enough to make it workable, roll it out in to large sheets and cut out rectangles the size of a toaster pastry ( I might try making them a bit smaller next time). Use flour to keep the dough from sticking to the surface or roller (or your fingers). Place pastries on nonstick or well-greased baking pan.

Paint the pastries with egg mixture (one egg plus one tablespoon water mixed together).

This amount of filling was a little too generous!
It made for lumpy toaster pastries, but if you're
not interested in toasting them, lumpy is good.

Place one tablespoon of filling in a thin line down the center of the pastry. I used blueberry jam, but you could choose anything you like in your toaster pastry. I think it would be really great to make a savory version with spinach and cheese or tomato, feta, and black olives!

 Roll out the rest of the dough and cut in to rectangles for the tops. Paint with egg mixture. Seal the edges of the pastry using a fork and then poke the top two or three times.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Total yum.

After they have cooled, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar or top with icing. I went for the sugar instead of icing, much to my children's dismay, but there's already plenty of sugar in these babies!

See the delight in my child's face as he reaches for a pastry! (Actually he already ate the pastry, I just made him pose for this picture, promising him future toaster pastries)

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