As a proud Cornishman, the pasty recipe that is handed down through the generations is legendary. I still have memories of going round to a distant relative’s house on a Sunday afternoon to be fed a pasty that was bigger than the dinner plate (and almost bigger than me at the time). Perfect eaten with salt, pepper and a little ketchup, or simply on its own, the pasty is for me the ultimate savoury treat.
Although I’m usually more likely to ask my Mum to cook them for me when I head back home, when up north the dearth of decent bakeries can hit hard. As a result, I’ve had to learn how to make them myself. The following is a (mostly) idiot-proof recipe that even I’ve managed to follow correctly. It’s worth the effort, even if just for that glorious smell of fresh pasties slowly browning in the oven…
– 1lb of chuck steak (braising/stewing also works). If you cannot find this, try using the equivalent in mince.
– 1 turnip
– 4 medium potatoes
– 1 onion
– 16oz flour
– 4oz butter
– 4oz lard
– 1-2 eggs (for the glaze)
– Salt and Pepper
1. Firstly, sieve the flour into a large, cool bowl and add the lard and butter in small cubes.
2. After running your hands under a cold tap, rub the fats gently into the flour until they resemble small breadcrumbs. It is important not to over rub.
3. Take a dinner knife and, pouring a little bit of milk in at a time, pull through the mixture. Continue to do this until it looks like pastry.
4. Gently knead the pastry together, using more milk if necessary. Remember to keep your hands as cool as possible during this.
5. Wrap pastry in cling film and place in the fridge for a minimum 30 minutes.
6. While waiting for the pastry to cool, chop the steak into small pieces – about 1cm cubes is ideal. Likewise, chop potatoes, onions and turnip into similar sized pieces (please do not be tempted to add carrots or peas here – it’s barbaric).
7. When pastry has been in the fridge for 30 minutes, take it out and, with ¼ of the pastry and roll out on a floured surface into what is roughly dinner plate size (we’re not making pasties by half, here). Remember to keep your rolling pin, or wine glass rolling pin substitute, well-floured, and your hands cool. Always roll in one direction, turning the pastry around rather than over (this will ensure it doesn’t get distorted).
8. Place a mixture of vegetable and meat along the middle of the pasty – guess how much you need according to what looks enough. If using mince, add an extra knob or two of butter here. Remember to put plenty of salt and pepper in at this point.
9. Beat an egg in a cup to use as a glaze. Using a glazing brush or piece of kitchen roll, brush the outside edge of the circle of pastry that is farthest from you.
10. Carefully lift the side nearest to you and fold it over, sealing the edges on the far side.
11. Crimp the corner (push the pastry up and twist it over itself). Glaze well on top and wrap in tin foil, leaving the top open (and enough tin foil to later cover it with). Repeat steps 7-11 until your pasties are all ready to be cooked.
12. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C and place the pasties inside on a tray (foil left open).
13. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the pasties are golden-brown.
14. Seal foil over the top of the pasties and then cook for a further 1 ½ hours, at 160 degrees C.
And that’s it! Freshly baked Cornish pasties, the likes of which Greggs and Ginsters could only dream of.