THIS POST IS A PART OF A 31 DAY SERIES TO INVITE OUR KIDS INTO THE KITCHEN. FIND THE REST OF THE SERIES HERE.
For the past two years, we have invited friends over in the Fall to make pop-tarts with us around our big kitchen island. Each time, the apples were sliced and softened in a pan with butter and cinnamon, and the pie dough was rolled out waiting to be filled. Roll, cut, fill, top, & bake.
Oh, and eat. Warm pop-tarts fresh from the oven should not be kept waiting too long.
The tradition is one I hope we carry on for many years. Not only does it end in delicious, if not wonky, pop-tarts. but it is a wonderful opportunity for us all to learn and grow over Fall pastries.
Yes, it is a little crazy. But along with the crazy you also get to watch all the little hands working to do something they have not tried before.
Yes, there may be a mess. But along with the mess you also get FRESH PIE made by your kids.
How to Host Your Own Pop-Tart Playdate/Party
This year, we opted for a pumpkin pie filling in our pop-tarts. You can find the simple recipe at the bottom of this post.
We invited some friends to join us and had a great time making the pop-tarts, after which the kids all went outside to enjoy the sunshine while the moms chatted and cleaned up the kitchen. Once the pop-tarts were done baking, they were loaded on a tray and carried to the picnic table to be enjoyed with a glass of milk and fresh air.
If you think you’d like to try to make pop-tarts with friends (and I definitely hope you will), here are a few tips for making the process as easy and delicious as possible.
Be prepared ahead of time.
Make the pie dough early and have it chilling in the fridge.
Gather necessary supplies– rolling pins*, forks, dough scrapers if you have them, spoons, baking sheets with parchment paper, and three bowls to mix together the filling, egg wash, and cinnamon sugar topping.
Assemble the ingredients for the filling, but wait on mixing them together.
* If you do not have extra rolling pins, ask your guests to bring along a rolling pin when they come.
Dedicate a space to work.
A kitchen island works great if you have one, but if you do not have a good space in your kitchen to work, spreading around a table would work just as well. Make sure the surface is clean and ready. Place all the supplies on the island/table so you will not have to worry about retrieving them later.
Encourage the other parents to assist all the children and help you keep an eye on everyone’s progress. If there are any older children in the group, you can pair them with a younger child to work together.
Keep expectations realistic.
As someone who makes pop-tarts and hand pies with a little regularity, I know how it “should” be done. The dough should be kept cool. It should be rolled to a certain thickness. Uniform sizes, fork marks, sprinkling, etc.
However, all of these things are just not a big deal when you have a handful of small children as the prime bakers. What is more important is that they have fun, earn a sense of accomplishment, and end up with something to place on the pan to be baked to a golden brown perfection.
Expect the dough to be too thick or too thin. Expect over-filling or under-filling. Expect uneven egg wash and sugar sprinkled on top in a pile.
Expect smiles. Expect pride. Expect memories.
Let the kids do as much as possible.
Let this be their work, only helping as they need it. This may mean helping a lot or a little.
Opening the can of pumpkin, adding the ingredients, mixing the filling, rolling out the dough, and forming the pop-tarts– there is something that everyone can do. Give them the opportunity to try. As Ms. Frizzle says, “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”
Do it once a year.
It is a lot easier to take on something when you know it is just a one time thing and you will have a year to recover.
There are things that should only be done at a certain time of the year. The anticipation and specialness of the event are a big part of what makes them exciting.
Yes, I could have made a gingerbread house with my kids when they asked in the summer, but it is much more fun to remind them that gingerbread houses are a Christmas tradition, to be kept in December with evergreen candles and a chill in the air.
So, plan a pop-tart party for this year. Keep it simple and fun, and remember, it’s only once a year!
Pumpkin Pie Pop-tarts
- double pie dough
- 15 oz can pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
- 1/3 C maple syrup
- 1/4 C heavy cream
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
- 1/4 tsp each: ground ginger, ground cloves, ground nutmeg
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
1.Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Mix together the pumpkin puree, syrup, cream, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and remaining spices in a small mixing bowl until well blended. In a small ramekin, beat the egg with a fork. Set both aside.
3. Roll out pie dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4″ thickness. Add extra flour as needed if the dough is sticking to the surface or rolling pin.
4. Divide the pie dough into equal sized rectangles. In the center of half of the rectangles, spoon a small amount of the pumpkin pie filling, leaving a 1/2″ border around all four sides.
5. Place an unfilled rectangle on top of each of the filled rectangles. Press around all four edges with a fork to seal the layers shut. Gently poke the tops of the pop-tarts a few times with a fork. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
6. Gather the remaining scraps of pie dough and press them together. Roll the dough out again, adding additional flour to the surface.
7. Repeat steps 4-5 to form more pop-tarts.
8. Brush the tops of the pop-tarts with the egg. Combine the turbinado sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of the pop-tarts.
9. Bake for 12-15 minutes in preheated oven.
10. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool 5-10 minutes before eating.
Have you ever hosted or attended a foodie playdate?
Find the rest of the Kids in the Kitchen posts on the series page.