Pop-Tarts Are Better Homemade

Buttery, flaky pastry and a lemon-blueberry jam filling upgrade this nostalgic childhood treat
April 24, 2020 Updated: April 24, 2020

Toasted Pop-Tarts with sprinkles were the staple of my childhood Saturday mornings. 

I can’t look at a Pop-Tart without thinking about waking up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons, a blanket curled around me against the cool early summer air. My siblings and I would watch for an hour or two while our parents slept in—something we always found strange and unbelievable, and promised ourselves never to do when we became grown ups. Why would you choose to sleep when you could be watching an episode of “Doug” or “Brace Face”? 

We liked to toast the Pop-Tarts, so that the strawberry jam inside became warm and gooey. The hardest part was practicing enough self-control to wait until they were cool enough before taking our first bite. 

I loved Saturday mornings. They contained the feeling of freedom, of knowing I had a whole weekend ahead of me without school or homework or busyness. It was a chance to just be home, to enjoy the people I lived with and an unhurried morning. 

My girls are still a little too young to know how to turn on the television by themselves, let alone toast their own Pop-Tarts. But they enjoy an unhurried morning at home and a sweet treat as much as my husband and I do. 

A few years ago, I started to become braver and more experimental in the kitchen, making homemade versions of the food I loved growing up. I made fresh pasta, macaroni and cheese, and ice cream from scratch. I began to wonder if I could make my own pastry version of my favorite Saturday morning treat—one that would satisfy both my children and the nostalgic child within me.

After a few tries, I put together a recipe that did just that. My homemade Pop-Tarts are simple enough for kids to enjoy and sophisticated enough to serve to guests. In fact, this is my father-in-law’s most requested recipe when he visits.

I like that this pastry dough comes together easily in a food processor. The trickiest part is getting the right amount of squares on the first roll, as it is difficult to re-roll. When baked, the pastry becomes flaky and light enough to melt in your mouth. 

In the summertime, I like to make these with homemade strawberry jam, but other times of the year, I substitute with a lemon-blueberry filling. 

homemade poptarts
Dolloping jam filling onto the centers of the tarts. (Matt Genders Photography)

To make things easy for me on the weekend, I make the dough the day before and store it in the fridge. On Saturday morning, I try to wake up a little earlier than everyone else in the house to roll out the dough, add the filling, and put the tarts in the oven. 

I love the look of excitement on my girls’ faces—and my husband’s—when they shuffle downstairs and see homemade Pop-Tarts, fresh out of the oven. Watching them wait impatiently for the treats to cool down is like seeing my childhood play out all over again.

Whether you enjoy these with a hot cup of coffee and good conversation or while watching Saturday morning cartoons, I hope they help you bask in all a Saturday should be: unhurried, memorable, and sweet.

Just don’t put these in the toaster.

Homemade Lemon-Blueberry Pop-Tarts

Makes 12 pastries

For the dough:

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

For the lemon-blueberry filling: 

  • 5–6 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
  • Zest of 1 lemon

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the dough:

In a food processor or by hand, combine flour, confectioner’s sugar, and salt, and process/mix until blended. Add the butter and process/mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and milk. Process/mix until the dough just comes together.

Epoch Times Photo
Combining the ingredients for the pastry dough. (Matt Genders Photography)

Press the dough into two equal-sized disks and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight. 

Epoch Times Photo
Shaping the dough into two equal-sized disks. (Matt Genders Photography)

To make the jam filling:

Combine blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Let simmer, stirring often, for 15–20 minutes, or until thick. Allow to cool to room temperature before using. 

To assemble: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk of dough into a 9- x 16-inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 12 3- x 4-inch rectangles. Arrange the rectangles on one of the baking sheets and refrigerate while you repeat with the other disk of dough. 

Epoch Times Photo
 Rolling out the dough into a rectangle. (Matt Genders Photography)

Working with one baking sheet of dough, lightly brush each rectangle with egg wash. Place 1–2 tablespoons of the jam in the center of each rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Top each jam-dolloped rectangle with a plain rectangle from the other baking sheet and press the edges together with your fingertips. Brush the tops with more egg wash and crimp the edges with a fork.

Epoch Times Photo
Preparing the egg wash. (Matt Genders Photography)

Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes on a wire rack. 

To make the glaze:

Whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, milk, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle glaze over slightly cooled pastries. If desired, sprinkle with lemon zest. 

Rachael Dymski is an author, florist, and mom to two little girls. She is currently writing a novel about the German occupation of the Channel Islands and blogs on her website, RachaelDymski.com