A couple of weeks ago, I was trawling through the Twittersphere when a small post got my Hog heart racing. It was from Outsider Tart (maker of such treats as the Mile High Bar) and consisted of only three words: ‘Apple pop tarts‘.
Posted as it was with a photo of some sexy-looking pastries, a volley of frantic messages followed.
I asked the most important question first: were they gelatin-free?
The answer had me applauding the screen: ‘Yes veggie friendly!’ All they contained to set them was the pectin from the fruit.
After further excitable questioning – and a few excitable emails – I was soon invited to try some at the Southbank, where the Outsider Tart have a stall from Friday to Sunday.
I felt like I was on my way to find the Holy Grail. For ages I’ve moaned about Kellogg’s Pop Tarts (the ones in the blue boxes), and their seemingly pointless inclusion of gelatin, meaning that veggies like me can’t get in on the action.
One company, Nature’s Path, did a pretty nice version we got from the States. Could I find them in England though? Could I heck.
Finally, it was time to right that wrong.
David Muniz (one half of the Davids that run this beauteous bakery) greeted me with a box of his handmade Pear variety, which were filled with a fruity purée (plus a cheeky spot of whisky).
No need for this dubious ‘Baked with Real Fruit’ malarkey (the Kellogg’s way of marketing, to make it seem like fruit makes more than the slightest appearance). With these tarts there was no question: you could see the seam of real Pear Jam.
David urged me to try one right there so, happily, I obliged.
Cold, it was not quite what I’d expected: much fatter than the Kellogg’s kind; more like a thick stamp of Garibaldi.
‘Have them hot with a dusting of icing sugar,’ said David, handing me another one for later. So I popped it in my knapsack and scurried away through the rain.
After dinner I prepared myself, nervous that it might not float my boat. I’d given this Tart a big build-up, after all: there were high expectations to be met.
But first I had to cook it.
David had warned me it might be too fat for the toaster, so discounting the microwave (in case it softened the pastry), I settled on using the grill to crisp things up.
Within minutes an amazing smell was wafting through the Hog House: a warm and buttery sweetness that stopped me in my tracks.
Then, as the Pop Tart started to brown, I whisked it out and coated it with sifted icing sugar.
The result was peary, pastry bliss.
Like a maniac I burst into giggles, dancing on top of my perch with each mouthful.
It was perfect. So, so good.
Thanks to the grill, the outside was crisp and the middle was warm, creating a medley of light crunch and goo. The sound of the bite alone gave me the shivers.
No longer did the pastry feel thick or heavy: it had been transformed by the heat into something both fresh and comforting.
Light spices broke through the biscuity taste, making the Pear filling zing. By this point I was zinging too.
I know I exaggerate sometimes, but I’m a Pud-Hog and this is no place for restraint. Besides, let’s be honest: this moment would change everything.
Instead of feeling deprived, or importing anaemic Pastries from the States, I could now just dash to Outsider Tart and spend my money on something a million times better. There was even a Brown Sugar Cinnamon version that David had told me he made.
Even now I can’t believe my luck: enormous vegetarian Pop Tarts? For £2.50 each? In London?
Listen closely and you’ll hear a tune. Do you know it? It’s Pop Goes the Pud-Hog!