Is there any more memorable and cherished taste from childhood than a Pop-Tart?

The sugary toaster pastries have been an iconic grab-and-go breakfast food since Kellogg Co. introduced them in the 1960s, probably because they taste more like a dessert than a healthy way to start your day.

I rarely had them as a child because they were considered "junk food" and continued that as a mom. My kids only ate them on special occasions like birthday party sleep-overs and vacations.

They're even more of a guilty pleasure when you make them from scratch. The fruity filling is encased in a flaky pastry dough with real butter instead of a mass-produced dough sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, dextrose and soybean and palm oil.

This recipe comes from Pittsburgh-based recipe developer Michelle Lettrich, the voice behind the food blog Brown Eyed Baker. It's a winner because it's relatively easy for even non-bakers to follow and the end result is incredibly tasty.

Homemade strawberry-filled toaster pastries pop with flavor - 2

APPROACHABLE RECIPE: Following the recipe from the food blog Brown Eyed Baker should be easy for home cooks, even non-bakers to follow and end up with tasty results. Gretchen McKay/Post-Gazette

The key to a great pastry dough is to start with super chilled ingredients, so be sure to use very cold butter and ice-cold water. Also beware of overworking the dough (that makes it tough) or adding too much filling between the layers. Remember, too, you will need at least a 1/4 -inch border on the edge of each tart to properly seal and crimp it.

While this recipe calls for a homemade strawberry filling, feel free to get creative with other fillings such as Nutella, cinnamon brown sugar and your favorite jams. For a more savory version, consider gently stuffing the pastries with ham and cheddar or goat cheese and bacon.

Don't worry if they're not perfectly rectangular – no one will care! I tinted half the icing with red food coloring and sprinkled a little sanding sugar on top for a bit of sparkle.

Homemade toaster pastries

For strawberry filling

3/4 cup strawberry jam

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

For pastry crust

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

For egg wash

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

For icing

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Food coloring, optional


Prepare strawberry filling: In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water, then combine with jam in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Make the pastry crust: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until it is the size of peas and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and milk and add to the dough. Mix together with a fork until everything is evenly moistened. Knead briefly on a floured surface, if necessary, until the dough comes together.

Divide dough in half. (At this point you can wrap each portion in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. If you refrigerate the dough, let it come to room temperature for about 15 minutes before rolling out.)

Roll out one piece of dough to about 1/8 -inch thick, in a 9 1/2- by-12 1/2-inch rectangle. (I used a yardstick to measure.)

Using a sharp knife, pastry wheel or bench scraper, trim the rectangle to 9 by 12 inches. Cut the sheet of dough into nine 3-by-4-inch rectangles.(I used the first one as a template.) Using a spatula, transfer the rectangles to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Assembly: In a small bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Brush egg wash on each of the rectangles. Spoon a tablespoon of filling into the center of each one, leaving a 1/2-inch of space around the edges. (Be careful not to use too much — it will leak out the sides.)

Roll out and cut second piece of dough in the exact same manner. One at a time, place a second rectangle of dough on top of the nine assembled ones. Using your fingers, press around the seams of the dough to seal. Press the tines of a fork around the edges and prick the tops in multiple spots to allow steam to escape.

Refrigerate the pan with the pastries (you don't need to cover them) for 30 minutes. This will firm up the dough and keep it flaky.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake pastries for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving if not using icing. If you plan to ice them, cool completely before doing so. Store pastries in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Make icing: In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract and food coloring, if using, until it reaches spreading consistency. You want a thick glaze, but not too thick that it is hard to spread. Add another teaspoon or two of milk if needed. Use a spoon or knife to glaze each pop-tart. The glaze will slightly harden in about an hour, if you can wait that long.