Last updated on November 21st, 2016
Guess what? An improved, updated version of this recipe can be found in my cookbook Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats. Preorder it now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local indie bookstore!
You do not put on any clothing more respectable than sweats. You do not cook—cartons of Italian and Thai delivery are to be inhaled from a horizontal position on the couch or the air mattress inflated in the middle of the living room specifically for the occasion. Naps are encouraged, as is the viewing of much bad television. And most importantly: you do not leave the house.
Even though we know this system to be perfectly constructed to maximize our recuperative efforts, last year we did the stupidest thing imaginable and broke all of these rules by attempting to go out for brunch. It was terrible. We put on real clothes—jeans, coats, boots—to trudge through snow and found nothing but long lines of hungover Bostonians waiting at understaffed diners.
In desperation, we walked one block further to Flour Bakery for the only thing that might salvage the morning: a homemade pop-tart.
Have you ever had a homemade pop-tart? I mean, you know it’s going to be better than those boxed leaden bricks that pass for breakfast, but this—this was ethereal. It transcended pastry. It must have been fate that got us out of the house that day, because not only did I meet my baked good soulmate at Flour, but I also learned that a cookbook with the pop-tart recipe would be published in only 10 short months. That was nothing compared to the years I had lived without the knowledge of this pop-tart! I could wait!
This year, I planned ahead by making a batch from the Flour Bakery cookbook while I was prepping the New Year’s Eve meal. Those of you who love to bake should do everything in your power to get your hands on this book. Pastry chef Joanne Chang is a visionary; she applies her exacting mind (no, seriously, she has a degree in applied mathematics and economics from Harvard) to the world of sweets and comes up with the best combinations of simple and elegant, from Nutella tarts to brown sugar popovers to “crispy magic frosting” for cupcakes.
Follow my lead and make these pop-tarts a day in advance of your next sloth-a-thon. The dough takes 4 hours to chill and, once assembled, the pastries need to bake and cool for about an hour before you can sink your teeth into them. Though they’re beyond spectacular when nibbled warm, the tarts work extremely well as a room temperature snack to munch on while popping your third Bill Murray movie of the day into the DVD player. I’m just sayin’.
Flour Bakery Pop-Tarts
adapted from the Flour Bakery Cookbook
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 5 hours
Makes 6-8 pastries
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, chilled (I cube the butter, then stick in the freezer for five minutes)
- 3 tablespoon milk
- 2 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
- 1 jar strawberry jam
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
Make the crust: Whir the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at low speed for 5 seconds. Add the chilled butter cubes and mix on low speed for about a minute or until the flour starts to look clumpy. There should still be chunks of butter throughout.
Add the milk and the two egg yolks and mix for another 30-60 seconds, until the dough just comes together. It will still be lumpy and “shaggy,” as Joanne calls it.
Mound the dough onto an unfloured work surface like a Roulpat and, using the palm of your hand, smear the dough down the side of the mound to the counter. Pastry chefs call this fraisage and it’s this technique of gently smushing the butter into the dough that ensures an extraordinarily flaky crust.
Smear the entire mound, bit by bit, until the dough holds together and the butter is well-streaked throughout. Pat the now-solid dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Time to bake: Preheat the oven to 350˚, line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and whisk the whole egg with 1 tbsp water to make an egg wash.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Roll each into a 14″ x 11″ rectangle and, using a pastry cutter, slice each rectangle into as many 3 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ pieces as you can fit. (The cookbook recipes says you’ll get eight; I could only muster six out of each piece of my dough, and I used an old photograph to measure each rectangle accurately.)
Transfer a dough rectangle to the parchment-lined baking sheet and spoon 2 tbsp of jam into the middle of the piece. Brush egg wash around the edges of the dough, then top with another rectangle and press firmly to stick the top and bottom together. Repeat with the remaining rectangles.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.
While the pop-tarts are cooling, make the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and 2-3 tbsp lemon juice together. Brush the cooled pop-tarts with the glaze and wait 10 more excruciating minutes for the glaze to harden before eating.