For a gluten free version, replace the all purpose flour with a blend of 8 ounces white rice flour, 1 ounce kinako (roasted soy flour) and 1 ounce buckwheat flour. I often use this blend at work and recommend it highly. For the breadcrumbs in the filling, simply use your favorite gluten-free crumbs.
With the frosting, you can use egg whites or corn syrup as a binder; the biggest difference is in drying time. The egg white version, essentially a royal icing, will crust over within minutes and dry thoroughly in a few hours. Using corn syrup means being patient because the frosting will take up to 18 hours to dry.
Note: All measurements are in weights, as volume measures can be very imprecise. I strongly recommend using a scale for all pastry projects. Serious Eats' recommended kitchen scale is the Oxo Good Grips Scale with Pull Out Display.
- For the Tart Dough:
- 8 ounces cold butter, cubed (use shortening for vegan)
- 10 ounces all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces corn syrup
- For the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Filling:
- 3 ounces fresh bread crumbs
- 1 ounce unsalted butter, melted (use shortening for vegan)
- 4 ounces brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 1/2 ounces corn syrup
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- For the Frosting:
- 12 ounces powdered sugar
- 2 egg whites or 2 ounces corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
Make the tart dough: With your fingers, cut butter into flour, along with salt, until reduced to pea sized lumps. Add corn syrup all at once and mix with a fork until it forms a ball. Dust your hands with a little flour, scoop out the dough, and knead lightly until smooth.
Flatten dough into a squarish shape, wrap in plastic, and chill at least 30 minutes.
Prepare the filling:
Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl, then drizzle with melted butter. Toss with a fork to coat. Add the remaining filling ingredients and mash together with a fork to make a paste.
Preheat the oven to 350° F and have a parchment lined sheet pan ready. Roll the dough to a little shy of 1/4” thick. This is important. Each Pop-Tart will ultimately have 4 “layers” (pastry + filling + pastry + icing), so pay close attention to the thickness of each. If you don’t, you may wind up with massively thick Pop-Tarts. Click here to see step-by-step photos of the cutting/assembly process.
Take the chilled squarish lump of dough and set it onto a surface dusted in sifted powdered sugar. Roll the dough evenly both left-and-right and up-and-down, but don’t roll diagonally! This will preserve the square shape and minimize re-rolling. Lift and move the dough periodically to make certain it hasn’t stuck, dusting underneath as needed. (If you discover a patch is stuck, slide an offset metal spatula between the dough and the counter to loosen. Pull back the dough and dust the patch with powdered sugar.)
Once the dough has reached about a 1/4” thickness and an overall square shape, use a ruler to cut it into a series of 3 1/8” wide strips. Cut each strip at 4 inch intervals. Gather up any remaining scraps, roll, and cut likewise until you have 24 pieces all together.
On half of the pieces, place about a tablespoon of prepared filling. Use your fingers to scatter the filling into a rectangular shape, leaving a 1/4" margin all around the edges.
To seal and bake the tarts:
Cover each filled tart with a plain dough piece. Use your fingers or the heel of a bench knife to smooth the dough over the filling and to gently press out any air pockets.
Use the handle of a bench knife, the handle of a wooden spoon, or the side of your hand to gently seal the dough along all four sides of each tart. Do not use a fork to crimp the edges; have you ever seen a Pop Tart before? No crimping.
Once you’ve smoothly sealed the edges of the Pop-Tart, carefully prick the surface with a fork.
Use a bench knife or spatula to transfer the Pop-Tarts to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until barely beginning to take on some color. You don’t want them “golden brown” by any means, real Pop-Tarts look downright anemic (and, in fact the one pictured at the top is slightly overdone).
Occasionally, a Pop-Tart or two will spread somewhat irregularly during baking. While they’re still warm from the oven, you can trim the edges quite easily with a bench scraper, knife or pizza cutter. Cool thoroughly.
Make the frosting and finish the tarts:
Use a clean towel or dry pastry brush to dust off the cooled Pop-Tarts, removing any stray crumbs.
Combine all of the icing ingredients in a bowl and mix until a smooth paste forms. Put some of the icing into a piping bag fitted with a small, plain tip. Pipe a boarder of icing around the perimeter of each tart, leaving about a 1/4” margin.
Thin the remaining icing, a tablespoon of water at a time, until it reaches a pourable consistency. Pour a tablespoon of icing onto each tart and use the tip of a metal spatula or spoon to help it reach all of the corners. Pop-Tarts only have a thin smear of icing on top, so take care not to overdo it.
Aging the Pop-Tarts:
Transfer the tarts to a baking sheet and store them in a cool, dry location where they will be undisturbed (the inside an empty microwave works perfectly). Let the Pop-Tarts dry, uncovered, overnight. This will significantly improve their texture.
Store in an airtight container, about two weeks at room temperature. The Pop-Tarts will, in fact, get better with age.
Rolling pin, piping bag