Cornish pasties were developed as an easy to eat hot lunch for miners and fishermen. The workers could hold the meal by its distinctive crimped edge and eat the pastry and filling. They would then dispose of the crimp, as their hands would be dirty and they wouldn’t want to eat the part they had touched. Times have changed now, with trendy pasty shops all over Cornwall and beyond, with most of those who taste them agreeing that the crunchy pastry crimp is one of the best bits. Inspired by a recent trip to Cornwall, I decided to try out making my own.
To start, you will need to make some pastry. This is very easy, quick and cheap and uses only four ingredients, so there’s no need to buy frozen pastry anymore!
250g butter or margarine, diced
500g plain flour
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp cold water.
1. Rub the flour, salt and butter or margarine together with fingertips, like you are making a crumble.
2. Stir in water with a spoon.
3. Wrap in cling film or a plastic bag and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, while you prepare your filling.
Traditional steak filling ingredients:
400g beef, diced
1 tbsp ground black pepper.
1. Preheat oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas mark 7.
2. Peel and finely slice potato and parsnips. Peel and finely chop the onion.
3. Cut pastry into four equal sized pieces and roll each out to a circle the size of a large dinner plate.
4. Put ¼ of the filling onto each pastry circle. Brush the edge with beaten egg and fold circle in half so the edges meet with the filling inside. Try to smooth out any air that may be trapped with the filling.
5. Seal the edge by folding and pinching the pastry. There are videos online that can show you how to do this much better than I can, like this talented baker from Cousin Jack’s Pasty Company: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PutVw_SbKV0
6. Line a baking tray with foil and spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray, or brush with oil. Place your pasties on the tray and brush them with the remaining egg.
7. Bake for 10 minutes, then set oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4 and continue cooking for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly, and enjoy when warm!
There are many interpretations you can make with this filling whether that be adding stilton or curry powder to bring another level of flavour, or changing the ingredients completely. A springtime pastry can be made with ham, leek and peas, or even a full English breakfast pasty with sausage, bacon, black pudding and baked beans. Then there are the vegetarian options. Just leaving out the beef would make for a pretty boring meal, so why not make an Indian inspired curry powder, potato and spinach pasty, like a saag aloo but with pastry? Or a Mexican style burrito pasty with beans, salsa, rice, hot sauce and cheese, topped with sour cream? Or you could make an Italian pesto, tomato, green olive and mozzarella pasty that’s like a calzone but without the effort of making a pizza dough.
I still can’t decide which one is my favourite.
Image credit: http://cornishpasties.com/cornish-pasties/