This is a traditional Cornish Pasty recipe, one which is still made today throughout Cornwall. And, although the exact origins of the cornish pasty are largely unknown, it is generally accepted that the modern form of the pasty originated in Cornwall, coming from the need to make a portable ‘complete meal’ by the wives of the Cornish tin miners, (for husbands who were unable to return to the surface to eat when working down the mine shaft). With this food parcel design the men could take the cornish pasty with them at the start of their shift and when ready to be eaten, (in the dark) they could hold the cornish pasty by the folded crust and eat the rest without touching it, discarding the dirty pastry fold that had been contaminated by their hands.
Baking Notes: Cornish pasties are all about the seasoning and pastry. The reward for doing things ‘right’ is enormous in terms of ultimate taste and texture. The only draw back being you will never be happy with a shop bought pasty ever again.
For the pastry do not skip the boiling of the lard, butter and milk etc. and decide instead to add them in cold, you will not achieve the same ‘perfect’ pastry needed if you skip this step. Secondly grind your own whole black pepper corns and sea salt in a pestle and mortar – the burst of proper seasoning throughout the pasty (and not letting the seasoning clump together) is what lifts these above ordinary pasties. If serving the pasties warm use the amount of seasoning indicated, if serving them cold, then add a little extra pepper and salt.
Traditional Cornish Pasty Recipe:
makes 4 very large pasties, if cut in half and served with salad etc. then they will easily feed 8
- 850g Plain flour
- 4 Egg yolks
- 140g Lard, diced
- 140g Butter
- 200ml Water
- 200ml Milk
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper to season
- 2 Egg yolk, beaten, to glaze
- 400g of waxy potatoes like Desiree
- 1/2 swede (400g)
- 1 large onion, peeled chopped
- 400g rump beef
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp whole black peppercorns (freshly ground)
- 40g butter diced
Note: The pastry for the Cornish pasty is best made a few hours or even the day before and kept in the fridge wrapped in cling film to chill. Bring the pastry to room temperature before rolling out.
In a mixing bowl sieve the flour into it, sprinkle in the 1/2 tsp of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper – make a well in the centre and add the egg yolks.
Gently heat the lard and butter in the milk and water until it has melted, then bring rapidly to the boil. Pour immediately into the well in the flour and draw the ingredients together with a wooden spoon to form a soft, pliable but not too sticky ball of dough. Add a little bit of water if too dry, or add a little bit of flour if too wet.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead very gently until it is smooth and elastic – it is not like kneading bread dough, be gentle to distribute all the ingredients evenly throughout the dough. Cover and leave to rest in a warm place for 20-30 minutes – then chill in a fridge for two hours, although best left over night in the fridge if possible.
The Cornish Pasty Filling:
In a pestle and mortar grind the whole black pepper corns into a coarse grain, then add in the sea salt and grind the two together. Peel the potatoes, swede and onion and cut into similar small sized 1cm dice. Cut the beef into similar sized pieces and season with a good pinch of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
Heat half the butter in a wide frying pan over a medium-high heat. Sear the beef in batches for 1 or 2 minutes to brown all over. Transfer to a plate and reserve. Add the rest of the butter to the pan and fry all the diced vegetables for around 5 minutes until they soften and the onions start to look golden. Pour any juices from the resting beef back into the pan with the vegetables, add the remaining sea salt and black pepper and cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the cooked beef, mix, and then leave to cool. Make sure the seasoning has been mixed in and has coated the ingredients evenly.
Making The Cornish Pasty:
Preheat the oven to 220C
Divide the pastry into 4 portions. Roll out each portion on a lightly floured work surface to large circles 4 mm thick. Trim neatly, using a dinner plate as a guide. Divide the filling between each of the pastry circles. Place the filling in one half of the circle, leaving a 2 cm border at the edge.
Brush the pastry edges all the way around with a little beaten egg, then fold one half over the meat and vegetable filling. This will create a semi-circle. With your fingers pinch and turn the edges over to completely seal each Cornish pasty to stop any filling leaking out during baking.
Transfer the Cornish pasties to a large oven tray and baking sheet (preferably non stick) and brush all over the tops of each pastry with the beaten egg wash. Bake for 10 minutes at 220C then turn the oven down to 190C and cook for another 30 to 35 minutes. If the pastry appears to be going too dark, cover with greaseproof paper. Allow to cool once out of the oven and eat warm, or at room temperature.