I know it means a lot to many women my age, but I have never taken more than a passing interest in Gilmore Girls. Dean vs Jess vs Logan? Choose self-esteem, Rory. Nevertheless, the new season was a big deal for some of my friends, and it was fun to share their fandom for a night. We went all out on themed viewing snacks - coffee, popcorn, marshmallows, cookie dough and home-delivered pizza. Although the Gilmore girls aren't ones to bake, I preferred making my poptarts over the real thing.
Street Vegan served me well in the poptart stakes once before, and if anything it did even better this second time around. I chose a strawberry-rhubarb filling instead of chocolate, and doubled down with pink icing. My version has more rhubarb and less strawberries than the cookbook version, which does no harm. I had some moments of concern when I poured in the cornflour thickener and the filling seized up into a dense jelly. Thankfully it relaxed into a more appetising jam after the tarts were baked.
I wasn't deeply impressed with the pastry recipe the first time I made it, but I really liked this second batch. I made sure to bake it more thoroughly and liked this crisper, flakier rendition. My pink glaze is loosely inspired by the mango-lemongrass one in Street Vegan, in that I blended lemongrass into it. But instead of mango, I tipped a little leftover tart filling into the blender to make a tangy pink topping. A few coloured sprinkles and we were ready to party like it was 2006.
Even after the success of my first poptart batch, I didn't imagine that I'd return to them again so quickly. But for this occasion, I'm glad that I did - they hit our theme and my taste buds with equal success.
Strawberry & rhubarb poptarts
(adapted from a recipe in Adam Sobel's Street Vegan)
1 punnet strawberries, chopped
2 stalks rhubarb, chopped into 3cm lengths
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1/2 cup water
3 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine
tender white middle of 1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
1/2 cup lime juice
generous pinch cardamom
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons coloured sprinkles
Place the strawberries and rhubarb into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute them, stirring regularly, for a few minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the agave nectar and lime juice and continue to cook, stirring, for a couple more minutes.
Place the cornflour and water together in a mug and stir them together into a smooth paste. Pour the paste into the fruit filling and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and allow the filling to cool to room temperature (I refrigerated mine overnight).
Place the vinegar, cornflour and water in a medium-large bowl and beat them together with an electric mixer until foamy. On low speed, mix in the flour, salt and margarine until the mixture comes together as a dough. Allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes - I covered my bowl with a lid and refrigerated it for a few hours.
Line 1-2 baking trays with paper and lightly spray them with oil. Preheat an oven to 180°C.
Lightly flour a clean surface and roll out the pastry to 2-5mm thick (I did this in about 3 small batches). Slice the dough into rectangles of the same size - mine were about 6cm x 10cm. Spoon filling into the centre of half of the rectangles, place the other rectangles on top of each filled one, and use a fork to crimp the edges together (see photo above). Set aside 2 tablespoons of the filling for use in the icing.
Place the pastries on the trays and bake them for 20 minutes, until they're a little firm and just starting to go golden. Allow them to cool to room temperature.
Place the reserved fruit filling, lemongrass, lime juice, cardamom and icing sugar into a small food processor or spice grinder. Grind them together into a smooth icing. Spoon the icing over the cooled pastries and scatter over the coloured sprinkles. Allow the icing to set for at least 15 minutes before serving.