Thursday, 24 April 2014

How to make a Cornish Pasty

Last night I set about making something I had never made before but that has very strong links back to my childhood.

My family heritage includes Cornish lineage but also growing up in Adelaide my childhood involved weekend trips to a glorious and famous little corner bakery in North Adelaide called Perryman's Bakery.  It was famous for it's Cornish pasties.  There would be a line snaking it's way around the street.
I understand it is not as it used to be anymore as lots of things are.  Just a memory.

I had an urge this week to try to make one for myself.  I don't do a lot of baking with pastry.  My hands are hot and generally I lack patience but it was a task I wanted to see through.

I find it really fun trying out something new in the kitchen. Experimenting.  And so I did with my Cornish Pasty. I never claimed for this to be a traditional one- and boy oh boy is there heated debate about what actually makes a Cornish pasty a Cornish pasty (as some of the comments on my Instagram can attest)!
The recipe (as all recipes do) has developed over time.  Meat only being added later as it was originally a hearty food made by the poorer communities using Swede, Potatoes and Onions. Although research tends to agree that any food that was available in the kitchen was used to fill them.
It's history comes from the Cornish mines.  It was invented to be a hearty food for the miners to take with them down the mines, handy to pop in their jacket pocket self-contained in it's pastry crust,  to sustain them through their physically demanding days. There are stories too of the half savoury/half sweet Pasty also. A true 'All in one Meal". The pastry was not even eaten but used to protect the inner filling from the arsenic on the miners hands.

It is now a geographically protected food, in that to be able to call it a Cornish pasty it is supposed to follow the strictest of guidelines & be made in a very limited area, as with Parmigiano Reggiano & Champagne.

I have done a lot of reading into the Cornish pasty before I began and there are countless versions out there. I wasn't intending for mine to be neither perfect nor Traditional but merely an ode to my happy childhood memory.

I wanted to make a Savoury one and was interested to find, against my better judgement, that most recipes did not require the filling to be cooked before hand.  Less work always makes me happy, so although this seemed strange I was willing to eliminate a cooking step!

The following recipe is my version of the Cornish Pasty.
Made with simple ingredients of high quality.
This dish is testament to the notion that simple food cooked well is indeed the most delicious of all and a reminder that our idea that British food is gluggy and flavourless is not at all correct if cooked well with good ingredients.

It is important to dice all the filling ingredients into uniform dice so as it cooks evenly.
To make a Vegetarian version substitute the meat for 2 potatoes.

Please not the filling is NOT COOKED before assembling the pasties.

(Makes 4 pasties big enough to be a meal in itself.)


For the pastry:

  • 500g butter, chilled and diced
  • 500g plain flour
  • a glass of water chilled with ice cubes ( you will prob only need to add a few drops )
  • 1 egg (for eggwash)
For the filling:

  • 1 x 400g rump steak, cut into 1cm dice
  • 1 swede (Turnip), cut into 1cm dice
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1cm dice
  • 1 onion, cut into 1 cm dice
  •  1/2 cup peas
  • S & P
Preheat oven to 175C.

Mix the chilled butter & flour in a food processor until it resembles crumb, adding a little water if necessary to combine.
Remove onto a floured bench and roll into a dough.

Portion into four even balls and place in fridge to rest for 20 minutes.

While the pastry is resting chop all fillings into 1cm dice- this is important to get even cooking.

Place all fillings into a large bowl and mix well. Season.

Roll out each ball of pastry on a well floured bench till you can fit a 20cm plate over to cut out a circle. The pastry should be about 1/2cm thick.

Place a handful of the filling into the centre of the circle and lift the sides to meet at the top.

Fold over pastry and squeeze so as to seal.  Don't stress if it breaks as you go, you can repair.  Wonky pasties look great &  we are not seeking perfect shapes but perfect flavour!

Place made pasties onto an oven tray lined with baking paper and brush with egg wash.

Once all pasties made transfer tray to oven and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove and serve with good Tomato Sauce or Mustard.


  1. I have always made my pasties without cooking the filling first, in the same way my mum and her mum always made theirs ( and probably her mum before her which takes us back to the late 1800s). When I shared the recipe on my blog most people were very wary of the uncooked filling. I have never had a problem with it, always yummy.

  2. Oh that looks delicious. Definitely on the to-do list.

  3. Top notch pasty! Yum. Elinor x

  4. When I seen your IG pics I was quite surprised that the filling went in uncooked but look how lovely they turned out?!

  5. Definitely on my to do list! They look delicious! I recently made lamb and roast veggie ones which turned out beautifully. Recipe bookmarked, thank you!

  6. I love 'em. That's all I can say, really!!! x

  7. They look really good for a first attempt! Recipe looks pretty good, though I will say that many people here in Cornwall consider putting peas or carrots into a pasty as a hanging offence! ;)

    There's also a very slight inaccuracy in your history, but don't worry because almost everyone makes it... pasties weren't invented for use in the mines! In fact, pasties had been around for a long time before minings hay day in Cornwall, being a popular meal for farmers and labourers etc. It was however mining which popularised the pasty - it turned out to be the perfect meal for the miners, and it was Cornish miners who took their pasties to Australia and other countries when they emigrated.

    You're quite right about not cooking the filling first though - a proper Cornish pasty is always cooked as one (never with precooked filling)!

    You can check out my book on the history of the pasty, and a whole bunch of pasty recipes including my recipe which won me Cornish Pasty World Champion titles back to back, at (the book's on Amazon if you're interested)


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