Cornish pasties

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This is the recipe that worked well on Sunday night. Quantities suit 6 people with good appetites. Note: NO carrot, NO onion and the meat is NOT minced - that would be a bridie, not a Cornish pastie.


1lb 8oz plain flour
12oz butter
1½ tsp salt
5 tbsp water


1 large or 2 small turnip(s)
2 large potatoes
about 800g of good marbled steak, trimmed of all fat and gristle
more butter
salt and pepper
water and milk

I followed the Readers Digest Cookbook recipe for shortcrust pastry, but made three times the quantity. And I use all butter, not ½ butter and ½ lard. The taste of lard is really quite revolting (though acceptable in pork pies).

So, sift the flour and salt into a (big!) bowl. Add the butter, cut up small, and work into the flour using the fingertips till it is the texture of fine breadcrumbs. Lift handfuls of the mixture out of the bowl and let it trickle back down through the fingers to keep it light and cool. Sprinkle it with the water a tablespoon at a time, mixing it lightly between each addition. This stops the water concentrating in one place. Gather the mixture together until it leaves the sides of the bowl clean and then knead it on a floured slab until it's stretchy and elastic, and has no cracks (well, almost none). Kneading is a mixture of turning, gathering, pushing, pulling and pummelling and it really does make a huge difference to the final result, ie the dough won't crack and let all the juices run out. Then wrap the ball of dough in clingwrap and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Now for the filling. Peel and cut the turnip and potato into cubes no smaller than 1cm or ½" on a side. Parboil them for 5 minutes, drain and leave to cool slightly (I left them in a bowl of water which did no harm). This makes sure that you don't end up with tender meat and crunchy vegetables, which is not the idea. Trim the meat and cut it into pieces ½ to 1" on a side. Divide the meat into 6 equal portions.

Preheat the oven at this point, to 200°C (perhaps a little less for fan-forced).

Retrieve the pastry from the fridge and cut it in half, then each half into 3. Roll out each portion to an oval about ¼" thick. Place a layer of potato and turnip along the long axis and top with the meat. Add more potato and turnip on top if there's room. You can mix the meat and vegetables together if you like - my layering technique is just to ensure everyone gets the same amount of meat. Season well with salt and pepper (I forgot this on Sunday) and add a couple of knobs of butter. Brush cold water along the edge of one side of the pastry, and bring the two halves together, crimping them at the top and then all the way down to the ends. Make sure there are no gaps, and it's good to make the join look regular with a wavy pattern made by your fingertips.

Repeat for each pastie, placing each on a greased oven tray when ready. Brush the tops of the pasties with a little milk to glaze them (not strictly necesssary) and make a couple of slits in the top to act as pressure release valves.

Bake them at 200°C for 10 minutes then reduce to 175°C for 30 minutes or until browned. Serve accompanied by nothing (in my opinion) or some salad if you want to feel virtuous. They do NOT need chutney or other foreign flavourings. Just let the tender, juicy meat dissolve on your tongue. Watch that little people don't burn their tongues though - they'll be hot!

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