Cornish Pasties

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!

Cornish Pasty

 

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!

Traditional Cornish Pasty – Mum’s Recipe

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 5 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Freezable
Region British
This is my mother's recipe for Cornish Pasties, made with a rough flaky pastry that uses the quick method.

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 600g Plain Flour (Sifted)
  • 400g Fat (You can use butter, lard, hard vegetable fat or margarine. I used 50/50 butter and lard as my mum did!)
  • PinchSalt

Filling

  • 1 Large Potato
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 300g Beef (Skirt or rump. I used rump because that's what my mum did!)
  • Salt and pepper to season

To finish

  • 1 Egg (Beaten)

Directions

Pastry
Step 1 Put the fat into the freezer and leave to harden for at least 45 minutes
Step 2 Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl
Step 3 Grate the fat into the flour using a standard box grater. If it starts to stick you can dip it into the flour to make it a little easier to grate
Step 4 Using a round ended knife mix the fat and flour together
Step 5 Now, make a little well in the centre and pour in about a tablespoon of cold water. Using your knife pull the flour and fat mix into the water till you have a dough, if necessary adding just a little more water.
Step 6 Gently knead the mixture together. You are not trying to get all the fat mixed in, just to get a dough that you can roll out later on.
Step 7 Cover with cling film and put in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour
Filling
Step 8 Peel the potato and dice all the filling ingredients into small pieces. The meat chunks should be about 1/4cm square, the potato about the same and the onion as finely diced as possible Season well with lots of black pepper and just a little salt
To make up
Step 9 Take the pastry out of the fridge and cut into four pieces
Step 10 Roll out each piece into a round on a floured board. If you are not confident rolling out rounds, you can cut around a plate as a guide
To make up
Step 11 Place filling along the centre of the pastry and brush the edges with egg
Step 12 Pull up the pastry and crimp. I follow my mother and crimp along the middle, although I've been told a 'true' cornish pasty is crimped along the side
Step 13 Place each pasty on a baking sheet and brush with the egg wash
Step 14 Bake in a preheated oven at 200-220c for about 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 160c and continue to cook for a further 30-40 minutes till the pasty is golden brown and you can 'hear' the filling singing (sizzling a bit)
Step 15 Serve with brown sauce and baked beans!

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!

I’m sending these to Choclette for the Best of British Challenge which this month features Cornish Food and is  being run by her in conjuction with  The Face of New World

Cornish Pasty

 

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Comments

  1. Your pastry looks fabulous! My mum used to make that quick flaky pastry, but also did a mean shortcrust. I’m not sure that you will be allowed back into Cornwall now with your Somerset Pasty – ha ha!

  2. He he Fiona, I can’t criticise the Somerset style. I’m a vegetarian, so if I were making Cornish pasties they’d have no meat in them. Your pastry looks fantastic and top crimp or no, I’m impressed that you’ve had a go. My grandmother was a mean pastry maker and she always used half lard and half butter too. Great entry for Best of British.

  3. LOVELY pasties Fiona and your pastry looks AMAZING! Can I just say I DID leave a comment here, a few days ago, but it seems to have disappeared…..but here I am again!

  4. Hi, Fiona,
    Just a quick question: I am sure your mum froze them after baking because raw potato doesn’t freeze very nicely (in my experience) but I thought I would ask to make sure that’s what you meant. Always on the lookout myself for things that freeze nicely for last minute dinners.

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