Cornish Pasty – the Somerset Way
When we were little, one of my mother’s staple dishes for weekday suppers was Cornish Pasties. She made her pasties with flaky pastry which took an inordinant amount of preparation, but which she thought hid her poor pastry skills. My grandma was a dreadful cook but a rather excellent baker and made a shortcrust pastry that was melt in the mouth and delicate. Mum never tried to compete. Instead she learnt to make flaky pastry, rolling out and dobbing on pats of lard and butter, folding and re-rolling to make a delicious light pastry that she used for almost all her baking!
Following the family tradition, I’ve never tried to compete. In fact I’ve completely avoided making anything that involved flaky pastry till now. Or if I have, I’ve bought the pastry ready made. But, while I was looking for a dish to make for the Best of British Challenge that could represent Cornwall, I thought of my mum’s pasties and got a bit of a yearning for them. While I was looking for a pastry recipe I came across a couple of examples of this ‘grated fat’ quick flaky pastry and decided it sounded too good to miss. One version was all butter, one all lard – and neither had any salt. But I do remember mum making this pastry and what the ingredients were. So, this version uses my mum’s mix of lard and butter (which I remember vividly from childhood, because the lard meant that the raw pastry tasted horrible!). And, it has some salt in it…which of course you wouldn’t necessarily use if you were making a sweet filling, or even if you were using salted butter.
I’ve also used a ‘top crimp’ for the pasty. I suspect it’s a bit easier than using a side crimp, which apparently is more traditionally ‘cornish’. What I have done is just the way mum made them. We NEVER had swede in our pasties (mum didn’t like it) and, she always used raw ingredients including uncooked onions and beef, which to me now seems a little strange. And of course my mum and my grandma came from Somerset not Cornwall…so, apologies in advance for any ‘bastardisation’ of a Cornish recipe.
Here’s the result!
I have to say, I was rather pleased with these. I know they freeze well because mum used to keep them, ready for emergency suppers. And they are not that far from the version I remember from my childhood, though I think perhaps I should have put a little more black pepper in the filling mix. They are really very good – full of flavour and quite filling and I will definitely make them again, although I am not sure if I’ll dare serve them to my brothers who will doubtless tell me they are not as good as mum’s!