Cornish Style Pasties
I have two new ovens. One broke and I got two to replace it. That’s a pretty good deal if you ask me! The kitchen isn’t completely finished yet but it is useable. So until I write the post with the photos to prove it you will have to make do with photos of the food I can now create in the kitchen. I promise I will do a big reveal once the kitchen is finally finished.
I feel like my lack of oven and more importantly unusable kitchen has deprived me of my usual winter comfort food. It goes without saying that as soon as I got a working oven I would bake something comforting. Cornish Pasties were the answer. OK, I can’t really call mine Cornish Pasties as they were not made in Cornwall and it is a protected title. Yes, Cornish Pasties are governed by the same EU law that ensures Champagne is only made in a particular region of France.
Unfortunately the true definition of a Cornish Pasty does not match my childhood memory of holidays in Cornwall. The EU law specifies that Cornish Pasties should be a ‘D’ shape and crimped on the side, whereas I like and remember eating ones that have been crimped on the top. My first experience of a Cornish Pasty was one cooked by a family friend who was Cornish born and bred so I don’t think I am totally wrong. It also states that the Pasty should be a minimum of 12.5% beef. The filling in my recipe is 38% beef. The advantage that comes with homemade.
Historically pasties were the food of the Cornish tin miners. The pastry was essentially the vessel to protect and hold the food. The miners would hold the Pasty by the crimped edge and discard it once the rest was eaten, preventing their dirty hands from contaminating the good food. Some people also say that one end of the pasty was savoury and the other end sweet providing a substantial two course meal in a protective casing that could easily be taken down the mines. Sweet and savoury in the same pie goes against my food rules.
I did get one bit right though. My recipe contains the key ingredients of beef, potato, onion and swede, or turnip as they call it in Cornwall. I based this recipe on a recipe from the most famous Cornish chefs, Rick Stein. I’ve made this recipe many times but find the proportion of pastry to filling ingredients is not right. I always end up with way too much filling and if over stuffed the pasties will burst in the oven. I have calculated and tested the recipe to what I believe is perfection. With these proportions you can easily double the recipe to make more pasties.
Cornish Pasties (makes 6)
For the Pastry
50g cooking margarine
225g plain four
pinch of salt
85-90ml cold water
For the Filling (note all quantities are after the veg has been peeled and chopped)
150g chuck steak
salt and pepper
1 small beaten egg and a splash of milk to glaze.
Start by making the pastry. Put the lard and the margarine in the freezer for at least half an hour before you are ready to use so that it is really cold. Put the flour and salt into a food processor then either grate by hand or use the grating plate on the food processor to grate the fats into the flour. Pulse the food processor briefly to combine the flour and fats then gradually add the cold water though the spout in the lid. You may not need all of the water or you may need to add a splash more. Basically, keep on mixing until the mixture turns to large breadcrumb type pieces and starts to stick together. At this point tip the mixture onto a clean surface and bring together to form a ball. Do this as quickly as possible and don’t overwork. If you can still see flecks of fat you will get really tasty, flaky pastry. Once you have formed the pastry into a ball, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes but preferably an hour.
While the pastry is resting you can make the filling. Because these pasties are fairly small you need to make sure the filling is cut into small pieces. Chop the onion, potato and swede into 5mm cubes. Chop the steak trying to get it into cubes almost as small as the vegetables.
I often cook by eye, adding a bit of this and bit of that but the pasties require a bit more precision. I weigh out the filling for each pasty so that the proportion of meat to vegetables is the same in each one. There is nothing worse than having one pasty hogging all of the meat while another only contains swede.
If you carefully weighed out the ingredients you should have 10g of onion, 15g each of potato and swede and 25g of meat per pasty. Set aside in the measured portions while you roll out the pastry.
On a floured surface roll the pastry until it is about 2mm thick. The pastry should be just enough for 6 pasties with a few trimmings. Use a small bowl to cut out the circles. The one I used was 14cm in diameter and was perfect. I got four circles out of the first roll and two more out of the trimmings.
Once you have cut out all 6 circles you are ready to fill. Put the ready weighed filling into a small bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir so all of the filling ingredients are seasoned. Put the filling into the centre of the pastry circle leaving about a centimeter gap around the edge of the pastry. Brush the edge with a little water – don’t drown it or it will be too wet to stick.
Bring the opposite sides together and pinch to seal. Contrary to traditional methods I find it easier to pinch the centre together then pinch from the centre to the outside edge to seal. These are generously filled pasties so make sure you tuck the filling in as you pinch to seal. Pinch firmly to ensure it won’t burst during cooking. I don’t crimp but I do pleat a little to make it look prettier. If you want to do the traditional finish then there are plenty of demo videos online.
Repeat with the rest of the filling and pastry circles until you have six pasties. Chill for at least half an hour before cooking.
Pre-heat your oven to 180C. Before baking you need to glaze the pasties to give them the golden brown finish. This can be done with milk or beaten egg but I like to do it with a combination of the two. Brush with your chosen glaze then peirce a small hole in the top of each pasty to let the steam out.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for one hour. They are best eaten warm, but do taste nearly as good cold the following day.