Cinnamon Apple Pop Tarts With Boiled Cider Glaze
Featuring a cinnamon apple filling, a Chinese five spiced dough, and a boiled cider glaze.
I first made these apple pop tarts back in 2020. They were part of my bail fund bake sale project, where I sold boxes of pastries and donated 100% of proceeds to various bail funds like Malcolm’s Freedom Fund and Baltimore Action Legal Team. They were popular enough for me to make them a few times and help raise thousands of dollars throughout the duration of the project.
Featuring an apple butter filling, a Chinese five spiced dough, and a boiled cider glaze, they’re my version of brown sugar pop tarts. But beyond Kellogg’s, they’re inspired by one of my former all-time favorite videos on the internet: “You was my baby—my fuckin’ cinnamon apple! I thought you loved me!” One of the last great cultural resets of our time.
I hope that person has found love again, wherever they are. And I hope you enjoy these pop tarts!
Cinnamon Apple Pop Tarts With Boiled Cider Glaze
1 quart apple cider, freshest you can find
Optional mulling spices (bay leaf, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and cloves)
2 ½ cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (25 g) granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
2 sticks (226 g) unsalted butter, cold from the fridge, cubed
½ cup ice cold water with a small splash of apple cider vinegar
⅔ cup apple butter, store bought or homemade
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Glaze + Assembly
1 egg, for egg wash
1 ½ cups (170 g) confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons boiled cider
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
Dried or candied apple slices
For the boiled cider
Pour cider into a medium saucepan. Add optional mulling spices and bring to a steady boil over medium heat.
Allow cider to reduce uncovered, until it’s about a fifth of the original volume. This should take about two hours, and you should end up with about 1 ½ cups of boiled cider.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. It should be the texture of a liquid caramel sauce. Keeps well.
Help, it’s too thin! Simply return to heat and reduce further.
Help, it’s too thick! If you find that your caramel has set into a jelly-like consistency once cooled, blending will turn it back into a (thick) spreadable caramel.
For the dough
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, Chinese five-spice powder, and salt.
Add cold butter to the flour mixture, toss to coat butter pieces in flour, and work into dough with your fingers. Smear the lumps of butter between your fingers to create large, flat coins of butter. The dough is ready when you’re able to squeeze a handful of the flour mixture and it begins to hold together—it will still be dry and crumbly at this stage.
Measure your cold water and add a splash of apple cider vinegar. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons over dough and begin to bring it together, using either a fork or your fingers. Don’t attempt to mix the dough—fold it and encourage it to come together.
Add water by the tablespoon. How much water you’ll need will depend on myriad factors—the flour you’re using, the weather, and how large your pieces of butter are—so go slowly. Every pie dough is different, but I usually need 6-8 tablespoons.
As soon as your dough starts to come together in a cohesive ball—there will still be unincorporated flour in the bottom of your bowl—remove it to your workbench or counter next to the bowl, leaving dry bits behind. Add drops of water to the remaining dry flour in your bowl and combine just until it comes together, and then plop that on your larger dough ball that you set to the side.
Divide your dough ball into two even pieces, shape each into a rectangle, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes. You can do this step up to two days ahead of time.
Assemble and bake
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine all filling ingredients and stir to combine. Cover and set aside in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble.
In another small bowl, whisk egg with small pinch of salt.
Remove your dough from the fridge and allow it to warm up for 5-10 minutes so it’s workable. (You may need more or less time, depending on how long it has been in the fridge.) Cut a piece of parchment paper that would fit a 9x13 tray and lightly flour.
Prepare bottom layer: Unwrap one piece of dough and set it onto the middle of your parchment paper. Roll out to create a 10x13 inch rectangle, trying to keep the edges and corners as straight and square as possible. Trim the edges to create a clean 9x12-inch rectangle, then measure and cut into 9 even rectangles (3x4 each). These are the bottoms—transfer parchment to a sheet tray and place in fridge to chill slightly.
Prepare top layer: Repeat rolling, trimming, and dividing with the second piece of dough. Then, using a fork or skewer, poke a series of holes all the way through the dough rectangles to create steam vents. These will be the tops of your pop tarts.
Remove dough and filling from fridge. Using a pastry brush or your finger, apply a thin layer of egg wash to the edges of all nine pop tart bottoms. Dollop a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center, then cover each with one of the punctured tops. Press lightly around the edges of each poptart to seal in the filling. If a bit oozes, no biggie.
Using the back of a fork, press lightly to crimp around the edges of each pop tart to secure the top to the bottom. Square up the edges with a knife, if desired.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the edges, top, and bottom are taking on a golden brown color. Let cool for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack and cool for a further 20-30 minutes.
Glaze and decorate
Make the glaze: whisk together confectioners sugar, boiled cider caramel, and vanilla extract. Add 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and whisk to create a stiff, but still spoonable, glaze.
Help, it's too thick! Add heavy cream by the teaspoon until you achieve the desired consistency.
Help, it's too thin! If you take it too far and need to thicken it, simply add a bit of confectioners sugar. Whisk well to ensure there are no lumps.
Place your cooling rack with poptarts over wax paper for easy cleanup. Spoon glaze—about 1-1 ½ tablespoons—over each poptart and lightly spread it around.
Top with freshly grated nutmeg, dandied or dried apple slices, flaky salt, what have you.