Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pot-Luck Pop-Tarts

About a month ago, I had brunch (not alone, but with friends, gasp!) at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink.  We sat in the restaurant for no less than six hours.  I felt quite European just wasting my day away with food and friends and Mimosas. (Appropriate.)  In our six hours of conversation, it came up that we should have a pot luck get-together. "We'll call it Ladies Who Lunch! nighttime..with miscellaneous foods!" It took place last night, and it was a splendid evening.

When we were divvying up who was bringing what, I was basically like "Dessert, ya'll.  I got this." I made 3 dishes: Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts (recipe below), and Florentine&Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches (Well, that's a fib. I really just assembled these. I purchased the cookies in-store, and then melted chocolate and pressed them into sandwiches.)

I'd been wanting to try making pop-tarts for a while.  I had pinned at least 6 different recipes about 3 months ago, and just hadn't gotten around to following through with it.  The recipe that I based mine off of called for 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour.  However, I like pastry flour because I feel like I'm doing fancier things when I use it. (...a logical reason...right?) I went to the Google to find out if the chemistry wizards of baking would allow for such a thing.  I didn't quite get an answer, but I did gain some good ole' knowledge. I never knew why we had so many flour options. Sure, you want bread flour for bread, and pastry flour for pastries, but I now know that the reason behind it is that newly-popular buzzword gluten. Flours with low protein contents will generate less gluten and flours with high protein contents will create more.  The more gluten in a baked good, the more structure and density you'll have (bread), whereas a small amount of gluten will yield light and airy products (cake and pastries).  
Here is the approximate protein content of all the common types of flour:
Bread Flour: 14 - 16%
All-Purpose (AP) Flour: 10 - 12%
Pastry Flour: 9%
Cake Flour: 7-8%
I decided that it was safe to use equal parts pastry flour and all-purpose, because I prefer crumbly, airy crusts more than dense ones. PS - it was a good decision. I think that these can be voted my best tasting pastry to date.  Their look, however, was definitely more on the rustic side. 

By the way, before I get into the Pop-Tarts recipe, if you'd like the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Recipe, it can be found from The Butter Queen herself, Mrs. Paula Deen. 

Pop-Tarts, adapted from The Candid Appetite
Yield: 9 toaster pastries, or 18 miniature pastries

For the Pastry
1 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups Pastry Flour
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) Unsalted Butter, cold, cubed
4 Tbsp. Ice-Cold Water, plus more as needed

For the Filling
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
Egg Wash
1 large Egg
1 Tbsp. of water 

For the Glaze
3/4 cup Powdered Sugar, sifted
4 tsp. Milk, plus more as needed
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
To make the dough, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt; pulse a couple times to combine the ingredients. Throw in the cold, diced butter, and pulse 10 more times or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about the size of peas. (I don't have a food processor, so I did this with a hand mixer and large bowl; I had to occasionally help flatten the butter by squeezing cubes between my thumb and index finger. It was a messy task.)

With machine/mixer running, add ice water through the opening on top of the lid, in a slow, steady stream, one tablespoon at a time,  just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. It should form a ball and come away from the sides. It is very important not to over process the dough. A way to test the doug is by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still dry and doesn’t come together, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into disks and tightly wrap in plastic. Place the disks in the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. (I did overnight.)

To assemble the toaster pastries, remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and allow it to thaw for a bit. This will help you roll out the dough, and make it easier to work with. (Note: If you live in the Cayman Islands and keep your apartment at 80
°, turn your AC down a touch, or else your dough is going to become incredibly temperamental.) Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Trim the sides of the dough so that it measures 9×12 inches in size. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Cut each piece of dough into thirds and then each third into thirds again. You should end up with 9 rectangular pieces, each measuring 3×4 inches. Using a ruler will make this process easier.
Preheat oven to 350

Beat the egg with a tablespoon of water and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough pieces. This will be the “bottom” of the tart; the egg will help glue the lid on. As I was going to an event with more than 9 people, I needed more than 9 tarts.  Instead of the traditional top-and-bottom assembly, I actually folded each 3"x4" rectangle in half to make smaller tarts. The result is more bite-sized, but just as delicious! Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, making sure to leave about 1/4 inch of space on the edge. Brush the second dough pieces with egg wash as well, and place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Crimp the edges with a fork all around the edge of each rectangle. This will ensure the tarts do not open up during baking.  
As I was going to an event with more than 9 people, I needed more than 9 tarts.  Instead of the traditional top-and-bottom assembly, I actually folded each 3"x4" rectangle in half to make twice as many smaller tarts. The result is more bite-sized, but just as delicious! If doing smaller tarts, place a heaping teaspoon of filling more toward one half of the rectangle. Fold in half, and then proceed with pressing the edges firmly and crimping with fork. (I crimped the folded edge as well for continuity's sake.)

Gently place the tarts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart five times with a skewer or tooth pick; this will allow the steam to escape, so that the tarts will become light and airy instead of flat pop-tarts. Brush the tops with extra egg wash. Refrigerate the tarts, uncovered, for about 30 minutes (or pop in the freezer for 10ish). This will allow the butter in the dough to chill and firm up causing a flakier crust.

Remove tarts from the fridge and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until they’re golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let the tarts cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until it reaches a spreading consistency; it should be thick but not too thick. Use a butter knife or offset spatula to glaze each tart. Allow the glaze to harden before eating. Store them in an airtight container. To reheat, place in a 350° oven and heat for 10 minutes. Or you can pop them in a toaster to warm them for a few seconds. 

Thanks for reading!