Recipe: homemade Cornish pasty (meat or veggie)

A tasty Cornish pasty

A tasty Cornish pasty

My English husband adores a good old-fashioned pasty, no way we go to England and return without having had a decent pasty, or a good stash in the boot. Living in the South of France without a sight of a pasty shop anywhere, we ventured ourselves to making some at home, based on his mum’s recipe, a traditional Cornish pasty, so no peas or carrots, but swede (the swede adds all the sweetness this dish needs)! According to my husband the things that go best with swede is butter and pepper, “that’s what swede lives on”!

Based on those same Cornish traditions, we used short pastry or crust pastry, hardly any water and let the dough rest for 3 hours before making the pasty (it’ll be far easier to roll out and will keep its shape better in the oven, preview this)! Fear ruled our hearts to do the crimping!

First problem was the swede, in England they’re massive, we only found them in one shop at the moment (a bio one) and they were ever so small… so I had a very disappointed husband. Comparing his recipe to some of the net, I soon discovered that measurements went everywhere! My husband wants a decent pasty, meaning enough and not too thin (you got to have something big enough, to get your teeth into). What I found on the net didn’t resemble at all with his mum’s recipe, no way you could make 2 or 4 pasties with those measurements.

To be honest you can put in whatever you want in a pasty, if you like other vegetables, but Cornish bakers and my husband stick to their tradition. Just so you know, there is an old story going around that even the devil didn’t dare to cross one of their rivers, as he knew that Cornish women would put anything in a pasty!

Coming from a miner’s tradition, we also made the dessert part of the pasty, although separate from the main meal pasty! Same procedure as the main pasty, but different filling (in theory you can put any fruit you have in the house in it, but in my husband’s family it used to be cooking apples, with some brown sugar on top of it, like you make a normal apple pie).

Ingredients for two pasties, you will need:

For the pastry:

  • 8 oz/ 220g all purpose/plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 – 6tbsp water
  • 4oz/ 110g butter, cubed
  • cling film

For the filling:

  • No need to precook,  the oven does the rest!
  • 1/2 cup/ 100g onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup / 220g potatoes (waxy ones are traditional), cut into dices
  • 1 cup / 220g , cut swede into dices
  • 8oz / 220g rump steak, cut into small cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • teaspoon of butter

What to do:

  1. First make the short crust pastry.
  2. Place the flour, butter and salt into a large clean bowl.
  3. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, working as quickly as possible to prevent the dough becoming warm.
  4. Add the water to the mixture and mix until the dough binds together, add more cold water, a teaspoon at a time, if the mixture is too dry,
  5. Wrap the dough in Saran wrap/Clingfilm and chill for 3 hours.
  6. If you don’t have time or patience, you can also make the dough in your food processor by mixing the flour, butter and salt in the bowl of the processor on a pulse setting. When the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, add the water, slowly, through the funnel, until the dough comes together in a ball. Wrap in Saran wrap/ Clingfilm and chill as above. And you can wait only a bit but…

After three hours:

  1. Divide the pastry into two and roll each piece into rounds the size of a dinner plate.
  2. Take a handfull of onion, potato, swede and meat and put it onto your pastry. Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Brush the edges with a beaten egg.
  4. Put a teaspoon of butter on top.
  5. Fold the circle in half over the filling so the two edges meet. Crimp the two edges together to create a tight seal. Brush each pasty all over with the remaining beaten egg.
  6. Pierce a hole in the pasty to let the steam out during baking, otherwise it will swell like a balloon.
  7. The oven should be preheated: 200°C, 400°F for 15 minutes, because the pastry needs to be cooked quickly, then turn down to 160°C, 325°F for 45 minutes to finish cooking the meat etc. ( Foresee less time for veggie pasties! )
  8. Place the pasties on a greased baking sheet and bake until golden brown.
  9. We started with a hot oven, once the pasties had a glow, we lowered the temperature to cook through.
  10. Serve hot or cold.

Smile, you’ve done it, now you can devour with pleasure!

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