Need a quick recipe for that 4th of July brunch you’re hosting? Make these Patriotic Pop Tarts, from scratch!
These pop tarts came to fruition after many many requests from my husband to make pop tarts from scratch. I was working on my most recent blog post (10 Reasons to Start Living a Self Sufficient Lifestyle), and when you are striving to be self sufficient there you inevitably crave those store bought items sometimes, so we thought it would be a good challenge to do our best to replicate them.
I was doing some polls over on my Instagram (Follow me! @sweetgumspot) for my next From Scratch Adventure, and people LOVED the idea of patriotic pop tarts. Like, it was a landslide. Who knew you all loved breakfast pastries so much?!
Anyway, after that point, it was a pretty done deal. It was time to make some gosh darn Patriotic Pop Tarts! Also, it was the weekend before Memorial Day, so I thought it was appropriate. As I sat down to plan the recipe, I had some decisions to make.
Pie Crust or Pastry Dough?
The first big question was, “What should the actual pop tart be made out of?” Pop tarts you buy in the store have a more crumbly texture that isn’t quite a cookie but also isn’t quite pie. But, then you have Toaster Strudels, which are more pastry-like and flaky. Both sounded good, but I was torn. I wanted to do justice to the Pop Tart, which made me think I should go with a pie crust. But….. I’ve never made pastry dough before, and the idea of laminating the dough and folding in all those layers of butter just sounded like a super fun and exciting challenge. So, again, I went to the trusty world of Instagram (if you haven’t yet, you can still go follow me 🙂 @sweetgumspot) to make the final call.
It was a close vote, but pie crust won out. On to the next question, which was fillings.
This was an easy one for me. I love strawberries and blueberries, and I think they are both very American and patriotic and summery. I decided to make a strawberry jam and a blueberry jam (both from scratch) to fill the pop tarts with. I’ll say right now that these jams turned out WAY better than I could have ever expected. Pop tarts or not, I will be making those jams again!
Making them the night before was absolutely key, so if you make these, make sure to plan ahead with enough time to let the jams set in the fridge overnight.
Icing or Frosting?
This was the last decision to make before I threw on my apron and started baking. Originally I thought I would do three fillings inside (and heck, maybe I’ll try that next time) and do a stripe of strawberry jam, a stripe of cream cheese filling, and a stripe of blueberry jam. But I just couldn’t shake this feeling that I would end up with a purple creamy goo in the middle, which although I’m sure it would taste delicious, wouldn’t achieve the patriotic look I was going for. I decided to go with a cream cheese drizzle on top of the pop tart.
The Night Before
Once all necessary decisions were made, I got down to business.
The night before, I made the pie crust and jam. I followed the recipe in Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book for a single crust pie crust. It made enough dough for 8-9 pop tarts. I was not exactly scientific in my cutting and portioning out… but if you were more careful, you could probably get 9 or 10.
Let’s Get Jammin’: Making the Fillings From Scratch
Also the night before, I made the jams. I used a few recipes as guidance, but I actually made this recipe myself. So for the jams, here’s what I did:
Strawberry & Blueberry Jam Recipe
- 1 pint of strawberries – finely chopped
- 1 pint of blueberries
- 1 cup of sugar – divided (1/2 cup per pint of fruit)
- Two lemon wedges
- Put your blueberries in one small pot, and your finely chopped strawberries in another. Turn the heat on medium-low.
- Add 1/2 cup of sugar to each pot. Stir until fruit is coated.
- Squeeze each lemon wedge in you respective fruit/ sugar mixtures.
- Continue stirring constantly for approximately 20-25 minutes, depending on your stove. You will know the jam is ready to go into the fridge when it coats the spoon and you can see the bottom of the pot for a few seconds when you drag your spoon across the bottom.
- Put into containers and let chill overnight.
Time to Bake
Once we’d had a good sleep, it was time to start making these beautiful pop tarts!
First things first, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.
Shaping the Dough
I rolled out the dough to as thin as I could get it without it tearing; about 1/8 of an inch. Then I took a knife and scored a grid across the dough, creating pop tart sized rectangles; around 2.5 x 4 inches. That was a rough estimate, because as you can see, these were not even, lol. I like to make things unique and rustic… Which is just a fancy way of saying I was lazy and hungry and didn’t want to measure them. 🙂
Once I cut out my rectangles, I laid the bottom halves down on a silicone baking mat, and put one stripe of blueberry and one stripe of strawberry jam. I loved how rich and vibrant the colors were next to each other. I kept my fingers crossed they wouldn’t ooze into each other when I baked them!
Next, I used an egg wash (just a beaten egg with a bit of almond milk) to glue the edges of the top layer around and seal the pop tarts closed. I forgot to get a picture of these last few steps, but they are all on my “From Scratch” Highlight Reel on Instagram (you can watch the videos here). Also, I did take some screenshots from the stories (shared down below), and though they aren’t the greatest quality, they’ll give you an idea of the process. Even though these were definitely not the prettiest or most perfect shaped pop tarts, they came together quickly, and the dough was really quite easy to work with!
Now that the pop tarts were almost ready to go in the oven, there was just one last step. I took a fork and pressed down the edges of each pop tart to give them a more finished look, as well as poking holes in the top of the pop tarts so steam could escape and we wouldn’t explode jam everywhere! After I brushed some egg wash on top, they went in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Pop Tarts From Scratch: The Results
Overall, I was super pleased with my first attempt at making these patriotic pop tarts! They were essentially pop tart shaped hand pies, which was delicious. They had a generous amount of jam in each bite so they didn’t lack flavor, but they also kept together nicely and didn’t spill or make a mess.
In terms of the cream cheese drizzle….
This is the part of the process where I went wrong. Not in my idea/ planning, but in my execution. My first attempt at the cream cheese drizzle was pretty rough. I didn’t soften my cream cheese enough and I added too much almond milk. It was lump and runny. Not good.
After I’d used all my powdered sugar and was frustrated and just ready to eat these delicious pop tarts, my husband Mike came in and saved the day and made a cream cheese frosting, similar to what you’d see on top of cinnamon rolls. The only sweetener left was some powdered Stevia. It tasted a little funky, but overall it was good.
Was it Worth It?
ABSOLUTELY. I would (and probably will) 100% make these again. In hindsight, I don’t think they need the icing/ frosting. The jam already brings plenty of sweetness, so the added frosting makes them super rich; it’s almost too much. What I WOULD do next time is serve them with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream… That would be amazing!
When you feel the need to indulge, do it this way. After waiting all night for your jam to set, rolling out your dough, and making each little pop tart with care, you will feel like you’ve earned the right to treat yourself!
If you enjoyed reading about my experience making these patriotic pop tarts, definitely check out my blog post about making Armenian Choereg Bread.
How’d it Go?
I’d love to know how your from scratch pop tarts turned out! Comment down below to share your experience! Did you prefer strawberry or blueberry jam? Or did you pick other flavors? Take a picture of your finished product and tag me on Instagram or Facebook (@sweetgumspot)!
Until next time…