Vegan Cinnamon & Sugar Toaster Pastries

This recipe has been on my baking "bucket list" for a while now. As a kid, we didn't really have a ton of sweets in the house. This included sugary cereals (Fruity Pebbles, Trix, etc.) and Pop Tarts. But my mom always had fresh baked cookies for us :-)

When we went to my aunt's house, however, all bets were off. She supplied us with candy and junk food galore. My favorite treat was Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Pop Tarts. Man, are those things good! I love cinnamon in everything, so they are right in my wheelhouse. (I see that they make organic Pop Tarts now, but I can't seem to bring myself to buy them...anyone out there buy them? I am intrigued!)

I'm a sucker for a good pastry (or baked good for that matter). At one of my favorite local places, I saw that they were serving homemade Pop Tarts using puff pastry. Theirs was okay, but I thought that the dough was a little dry. I was disappointed. But that got me thinking: I can try that!

And this recipe was born...

This recipe is flaky -- I mean, can you see all of those layers?! And it's not too difficult to make. You just need to wait for the dough to chill a bit. Why does it need to chill? You need those nice chunks of shortening to stay cool and intact; that's what gives you those flaky layers. Even my dad, who's difficult to please with baked goods, said that he really liked the flakiness of the layers. So it has his stamp of approval, which is saying something!

You could easily sub out the filling for jam or some other favorite filling. I plan to try that in the future too!

Cinnamon & Sugar Toaster Pastries with Homemade Vegan Puff Pastry
Puff Pastry Recipe Lightly Adapted from Vegan Dad; Pastry Filling Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Puff Pastry Ingredients
1 c. + 2 T. organic non-hydrogenated shortening, like Spectrum, cold
1 1/2 c. organic flour or cake flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. vodka, very cold (or water, very cold)

Cinnamon & Sugar Pastry Filling
1/2 c. brown sugar or coconut sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 T. flour
1 T. flax seed, ground
3 T. warm water
2 tsp. almond milk, plus more for brushing

Directions - For the Pastry
Before you begin, make sure your vodka (or water) is in the freezer and place your measured shortening in the fridge/freezer for 30 minutes. (I put both in the freezer.)

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.  Using a pastry cutter, or your fingers, add in the shortening and work it into a meal.  Don't eliminate all of the chunks of shortening though.  When all of the shortening is worked in, add your cold vodka.  Work the dough again - it should resemble a traditional dough now.  If it's too soft, you can add a little more flour.

Between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out your dough.  Use a little flour to keep the paper from sticking too much.  Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape if you can.  When you're ready, fold the dough length-wise into a crepe or burrito shape.  After, fold it two more times, into a little square.  You should be able to still see some shortening spots.  Wrap it in plastic and chill the dough for 2 hours, at the very least.

Directions - For the Filling
Combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl, until everything is well mixed. It's that easy! Set the bowl aside.

Rolling Out the Dough
Preheat the oven to 400°. 

Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and roll it out, again between two pieces of floured parchment paper.  Again, try your best to keep it in a square shape, though it doesn't have to be perfect (as you will see with my dough).  Remove the top piece of parchment and cut the dough into six pop tart-sized shapes. (Mine measured about 6" long and 5" wide.) Take a look at the pictures below. After, you'll make small ladder shapes. It's just a series of simple, symmetrical cuts.

If you want, you can also make three traditional-looking pop tart pastries by cutting six equal rectangles. It's up to you! I took the excess dough and make mini pastries with it.

Once all of the pastries are folded and ready to go, place them on a piece of parchment paper. No matter what you do, these beauties will leak. The shortening melts and the filling will ooze a little. If you're worried about your baking pans, I suggest that you line the pan with aluminum foil to seal it and then place the parchment and pastries on top. That way, you have double protection.

When the pastries are on the tray with parchment paper, brush each one with a little more almond milk. Bake the pastries for 20-25 minutes. They should be golden brown on the top.

After they're done, use a knife to cut away any excess filling that has come out the sides. It should come away, no problem.

If you want, you can make a quick cinnamon sugar glaze for the top -- I do recommend it! It really enhances the flavor of these pastries. Take 1/2 cup of powdered sugar (vegan) and add a teaspoon of water at a time -- stir. You want the glaze to be the consistency of Elmer's Glue. Add in a few shakes of cinnamon.

Drizzle as much or as little over your pastries as you want :-)

Cheers!
-Aileen