I Tried To Make Bon Appétit’s Gourmet Pop Tarts & It Wasn’t A Total Disaster
What happens when an amateur attempts one of Claire Saffitz's best ever 'Gourmet Makes' recipes?
Like everyone else, I’m obsessed with Claire Saffitz from Bon Appétit. When everything is bad, her Gourmet Makes series soothes my soul.
If you haven’t seen the series, in each episode Claire tries to reverse engineer junk food to create her own high-end version.
Part of the series’ charm comes from Claire herself. It’s just genuinely enjoyable to watch her get excited when she cracks a particularly hard recipe, and equally moving when she breaks down over a minor inconvenience.
But the videos also make me believe I could whip up a block of Kit Kat at home. And one time I set bread rolls on fire in a toaster oven.
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Considering my complete and wilful lack of cooking skills, attempting a gourmet recipe was definitely a choice. I should have started with something simpler, like Paris Hilton’s lasagne, or maybe a bowl of cereal.
But I’m stubborn and dumb, so I set forward on the most ambitious cooking challenge I’d ever attempted. And hoo boy, it was hard, but also somehow not a total disaster.
Here’s what happened when I tried to make Claire Saffitz from Bon Appetit‘s gourmet pop tarts.
Things started to go downhill immediately.
The recipe for the dough calls for 1 ¼ cups (or 2 ½ sticks) of unsalted butter, so I bought three sticks.
If you’re thinking “That’s a lot of butter,” you’d be correct. I guess Australian and American sticks of butter are different sizes (???) so I bought roughly three times more than I actually needed.
I was about to chuck it all in when I messaged a friend, who can actually cook, to ask if millilitres and grams are the same thing. She told me she was scared for me, and that I should convert the 1 ¼ cup measurement to find out how exactly many grams of butter I needed.
Once I figured that out, I mixed the butter with flour, sugar, and salt, then slowly added water and kneaded it into a ball.
That had to chill for at least two hours, and it was already 7.45pm. It was that moment when I realised baking takes forever, and that I should have just used store-bought puff pastry.
I prepped as many ingredients as possible that night so everything would be ready to assemble the next day.
After binging three episodes of Normal People, I thought I’d whip up the strawberry filling and let it chill in the fridge overnight.
Was that a mistake? Absolutely, and I ended up cooking until past midnight. But the filling was so delicious that I didn’t even care.
To make it, I baked a mixture of fresh strawberries and caster sugar — the recipe calls for granulated sugar and I still don’t know if there’s any difference. I also added a pinch of our regular, generic brand table salt. Again, the recipe said kosher salt but I don’t know what that is.
The next morning, I assembled the pop tarts.
What I forgot about is that our fridge freezes everything on the top shelf. So first I had to let this thick slab of buttery dough thaw for a good ten minutes.
Finally, I rolled the dough out as best I could (not well) and started cutting it into rectangles to make the base of the pop tarts.
In Gourmet Makes, Claire uses a cardboard template to cut her pastry out. I couldn’t be fucked, though, so I did the next best thing: I borrowed my housemate’s tape measure.
Plot twist: a tape measure isn’t a good baking tool. I know, I was shocked too.
I cut out eighteen pieces of pastry to make nine pop tarts, but the universe had other plans.
As I opened the freezer door to remove the slices of pastry, one of the plates I’d put them on fell and smashed on the floor.
The floor pastry looked okay, but I still doubted it was ethical to serve food that could potentially have shards of porcelain in it. Ultimately, I realised that Claire wouldn’t approve, so I heroically scrapped them.
I divided the filling between the six remaining pop tarts and baked them for 35 minutes, until the bottom was golden and the top had puffed up.
Next, I whisked egg white, sugar, vanilla and lemon until it stiffened and formed the icing.
I added a square of icing to each pop tart and sprinkled 100s and 1000s on the top, then let that cool for an hour.
Baking, I was learning, is 50% mixing and 50% waiting.
Finally, my gourmet pop tarts were ready!
I made Claire Saffitz from Bon Appétit‘s gourmet pop tarts and all it took was 20 hours, one smashed plate, one cut finger, and one drop of icing in my eye.
Was it worth it?
It’s hard to recommend anyone try this for themselves. It took so much time to make six pop tarts, and you can buy a box of eight for $5 from Coles.
Instead of doing all that, you could just watch the pop tarts episode of Gourmet Makes, fall in love with Claire Saffitz, and call it a day.
But it was fun to make something so extravagant, and it’s better than baking more sourdough in iso.
(Lead image: Bon Appétit, ‘Pastry Chef Attempts to Make Gourmet Pop-Tarts’ / YouTube)