Friday, August 19, 2011

Lemon Pop Tarts

Regular followers of this blog know I like making "pop tarts" from scratch. (In fact, next week, I'm teaching a baking course in which we'll make the tarts, along with homemade versions of other boxed treats.)

Recently, I wanted to try a couple of experiments with my homemade pop tart recipe. First, I found a Wilton "mini filled pie" press, the red plastic tool you see in the picture, at Sur La Table.  I checked online, but I can't seem to find any more, so they may have been discontinued.

Usually, I roll out my dough in a big rectangle and then cut the tarts by hand. With this tool, you use the bottom of the press to cut rectangles. Next, you place one rectangle of dough on the toothy part of the inside of the press, fill it with whatever filling you like, top it with a second rectangle, and then close the machine to crimp and seal.

I haven't decided if I like this press or not. The big disadvantage to me is that I had to keep rerolling the dough, which got softer, stickier, and harder to work with after each roll. Also, sometimes I like making smaller or bigger tarts, but if you use the press, you're stuck in terms of size.

I also experimented with fillings. Usually I simmer some jam with a bit of cornstarch to thicken it so it's not so watery. This time I tried using jam straight out of the jar to see if that would work and save time. Big mess in the baking stage. A lot of the tarts were too soggy on the bottom. I won't do that again!

What did work was using jarred lemon curd as a filling, completely undoctored. Not only did the tarts bake well, but also they were lemony perfection, a sweet and tart accompaniment to the golden crust of the tart. I'm curious if homemade lemon curd would work too. (I notice that the jarred curd is often thicker and less watery than homemade.)  Another experiment in the future?

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