The Humble Cornish Pasty
So I’m back from a couple of weeks of adventure sailing in the Western Isles on the Eda Frandsen and exploring the community gardens and farmer’s markets of Berlin. You couldn’t get much more of a contrast between the two weeks, but the food in both places was as fresh and delicious as I could have hoped for.
The food on the Eda Frandsen was beautifully prepared by lovely cook Chloe who presented the crew with warm cake every afternoon at about 4pm not to mention homemade granola for breakfast, soups and risottos for lunch and a feast of delights at dinner. I was always trying to muscle my way into the tiny galley kitchen below deck to offer a hand and more importantly see what she was doing. It was very strange to have someone cooking all my meals for me and I just had to get in on the action.
One of the highlights of the week for me (apart from swimming in the sea on white sandy beaches) was learning how to make Cornish pasties. I tried the recipe myself as soon as I got home and the results weren’t bad, but I’m afraid I haven’t mastered it yet. I used a bit of spelt flour in the recipe which was healthier but let’s face it pastry is never really that healthy so I should have stuck with white flour. I also avoided using lard so I could make veggie pasties for Rosa, which I think unfortunately just didn’t produce such crisp flaky pastry. The most remarkable thing for me was the idea of putting all the ingredients raw into the pasty, but it really does work as long as you create a decent seal on the pastry. The butter and the meat juices create their own gravy inside. I’ve since seen recipes that call for you to make a slow-cooked stew and then put this inside the pasty but this isn’t the traditional way to do it.
So here it is, Chloe’s traditional Cornish Pasty Recipe (haggis optional!)
Makes approx. 8 large pasties, each one a meal in itself
1 kg strong white bread flour
250g lard (or vegetable shortening)
- Rub together flour, shortening, margarine and salt until it resembles breadcrumbs
- Add water and mix to form a soft dough. Knead for 5-10 minutes until a bit stretchy
- Divide into 8 balls and flatten. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Dough can also be frozen to use another time.
1 swede (or half a swede if very large)
600g skirt or stewing steak
8 generous knobs of butter
1 egg to glaze
salt and pepper
- Heat oven to about 180C
- Chop all your veg into small chunks. The meat can be kept in pretty large chunks
- Roll out each portion of chilled dough until pretty thin.
- Pile on your filling – swede, potato, onion – then season really well with pepper. Now place on about 4 chunks of meat, a big knob of butter and season again.
- Try to hold the filling in place with one hand as you pull and stretch the dough over the top.
- Once you have a half moon shape seal your pastry by folding over and pressing down with your thumb (not sure how else to describe this but have a go – you get better at it as you go along!)
- Place on a baking tray with greaseproof paper underneath.
- Glaze the pasties with some egg and cook in the oven for about 45 mins – 1hour until nice and golden
You can do nice veggie pasties by omitting the meat and adding some cheese. Chloe added some cooked haggis to the pasties because we had left overs from dinner the night before and it was deliciously gluttonous but not essential!