The Cornish pasty, as the name suggests, comes from Cornwall in the south-west of England. In its traditional form – which carries protected geographic status – these hand-made semi-circular pastries are stuffed with beef, potato, swede and onion, before being seasoned with salt and pepper and baked. However, the filling can be adjusted as desired, with cheese and onion, chicken and mushroom, and vegetarian options just some of those on the market today.
Pasties have their roots deeply embedded in the Cornish tin mining industry, when they were created as a hand-held meal for miners to enjoy at lunch. The crimpled crust helps to insulate the filling, while also doubling up as a useful handle for miners with dirty hands. It was not uncommon for people to carve initials into the crusts or add dough letters to their pasties in order to ensure that every member of the family took the right one for lunch!
500g (4 ¼ cups) flour
½ teaspoon salt
300g (1 ¼ cups) butter
100g (2/5 cup) milk
4 egg yolks
300g (1 1/3 cups) lean beef steak or coarse beef (optional)
350g (2 ½ cups) potatoes or sweet potatoes
200g (1 cup) grated cheddar cheese
125g (2 ½ cups) onion chopped
½ teaspoon salt
A sprinkling of pepper
8 teaspoons of clotted cream or butter
Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and stir, before adding the butter (which should be broken into cubs). Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
Add the milk and egg yolk and mix until it forms a dough. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for a few hours.
As the dough refrigerates, it’s time to prepare the filling. Put the beef, chopped potatoes, grated cheese and diced onion in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir briefly.
Once the dough is ready, take it out of the fridge and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is 2-3 mm thick. Cut out 8 circles with a diameter of 15 cm (a side plate or saucer works well as a guide). You may need to roll out the leftover trimmings again in order to make enough circles.
Brush the outer edges of the circles with egg and spread the filling evenly over the centre of the circles.
Add a teaspoon of clotted cream or butter on top of the filling for each pasty.
Fold the dough over to enclose the filling and squeeze to seal, forming small ridges around the outside – a process known as 'crimping'.
Place the pasties on the prepared baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/Gas Mark 6/392˚F. Brush the pasties with egg and bake for 40 minutes until they are crisp and golden brown.
Top tip: If you’re feeling extra hungry, try using a bigger circle for your pasty and remember to add a lot of extra filling! You might struggle to recreate the world record for the biggest Cornish pasty though – it was 15ft (4.5 metres) long, weighed an incredible 850kg, and took 11 hours to cook in a specially built oven!