When I decided that February was “Pie Month” the Cornish Pasty was top of my list of pies to make. Flaky, golden pastry wrapped around melt-in-the-mouth beef and vegetables. There’s something magical about them despite their simplicity and I couldn’t wait to make them!
Such is it’s greatness it was awarded PGI status in 1993, meaning that a “Cornish Pasty” can only be genuinely made in Cornwall, stopping inferior products being passed off as genuine Cornish pasties. According to The Cornish Pasty Association a genuine Cornish Pasty must contain:
- Roughly diced or minced beef
- Sliced or diced firm waxy potatoes
- Seasoning to taste (mainly salt & pepper)
- The ingredients must be uncooked when the pasty is assembled.
- The pastry must be savoury and hold all ingredients through cooking and handling without cracking or breaking.
- The pasty must be crimped into a D shape, with the crimp towards one side and glazed with egg, milk or a mixture of both.
- There must be at least 12.5% beef and 25% vegetables in the whole pasty.
Obviously I’m not in Cornwall but I can still make a pretty good one up here in Northern Ireland. The key is to use Beef Skirt as it has no gristle and little fat, cooks in the same amount of time as the raw vegetables and it’s juices produce wonderful gravy. Additionally you should use a waxy firm potato - floury ones will disintegrate on cooking.
After that it’s just the question of what to eat them with. To repeat wise words,
"If there's room on your plate for other things, you should've made the pasty bigger!”
However I like a bit of HP brown sauce with them too… plus a second one!
Cornish Pasty Week is 25th February to 5th March
What are you waiting for?
100g hard margarine [I used Stork Original baking block]
450g plain white bread flour
½ teaspoon salt
200ml ice-cold water
450g skirt steak
225g peeled turnip/swede, cut into small cubes
450g peeled waxy potatoes, cut into small cubes
225g onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon [or more] of freshly ground black pepper
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
Note: Freeze the margarine and lard for an hour before you make the pastry.
Pasties also need to chill for an hour before cooking.
Makes 8 pasties
Make the dough:
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Take the margarine and lard out of the freezer and grate them straight into the flour. With your fingertips rub the fat into the flour then mix in the water, preferably with a dinner knife, until it all comes together. [I used a stand mixer with the dough hook to mix in the water].
Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute until smooth and elastic.
Then wrap in cling film and chill for an hour.
Prepare the filling:
Mix the steak, swede, potatoes, chopped onion, salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl. [Remember that the salt and pepper are the only spice flavourings in the pasty, so think about how peppery you’d like it to be.]
Prep the dough:
Weigh your pastry. Calculate the overall weight divided by 8.
Measure out 8 equal balls of dough to this measurement.
Roll each of these balls out into 20cm circles. You can do this one at a time, in batches or all at once.
Filling and sealing the pasties:
Using a spoon, or your hand, fill the pasty with the meat and vegetable filling. Try to pack as much in as possible or you’ll get gaps between the filling and pastry when they are cooked. Remember the filling shrinks during cooking.
Wet the edge of one half of the dough circle, bring the edges of the dough together and seal with your fingers.
If you look at my photos you can see that I used a different crimping method to the traditional method., which is a D-shape with the crimping to one side. I find this method really tricky, plus when I was growing up Cornish Pasties always looked as how I’ve made them, with the crimp on top and a flat bottom. Nostalgia always wins…. plus it’s easier to fill and crimp this way!
However this is how it should be done authentically if you’re a stickler for tradition, see below.
Chill then cook the pasties:
Place the sealed and what-ever-way crimped pasties on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F.
Whisk the egg and water together and once the pasties are chilled, brush each pasty evenly and generously with the egg wash. Bake for an hour until they are beautifully golden in colour.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly and eat when still warm.