The Cornish Pasty is an excellent example of England’s cultural heritage, being recognised as early as 1300 AD and being the signature food of Cornwall. The word comes from the Old French and Vulgar Latin words paste and pasta. Due to the meat filling that was popular in pasties of the time, these were foods reserved for the wealthy and even royalty.
What Makes A Pasty A Cornish Pasty?
The iconic Cornish pasty came about due to the ingenuity of the Cornish tin miners’ wives. This is due to the design allowing this nutritious meal to be portable and dense, allowing it to be carried into the mines and keeping its warmth for hours. Due to it being primarily eaten by working-class families, meat was scarce and would only be eaten on certain occasions. Therefore, vegetables such as swede and potatoes comprised most Cornish Pasties.
The ‘D’ shape with crimped edges created sturdy handles that made them portable and robust, which was useful to miners. An unofficial - but very humorous - requirement of a Cornish pasty is for the pasty to be strong enough to withstand a drop down a mineshaft. To fit this bizarre requirement, barley flour is usually used to make a hard, dense pastry that can also retain heat.
How You Can Make A Cornish Pasty
- 400g of beef skirt that has been cut into cubes.
- 300g of peeled and diced potato (preferably Maris Peer).
- 150g of yellow-fleshed swede that has been peeled and diced.
- 150g of peeled and diced onion.
Homemade Shortcrust Pastry:
- 500g of strong bread flour, like barley flour.
- 120g of lard.
- 125g of butter.
- 175ml of cold water.
- 1 tsp of salt.
- Add salt to the bread flour in a large mixing bowl.
- Rub the lard and the butter together lightly into the bread flour until it looks like breadcrumbs.
- Add water and bring the mixture together. Knead until the pastry turns elastic. This will take longer than usual due to the strong bread flour.
- Cover and leave to rest in the fridge for 3 hours.
- When rested, roll out the pastry and cut it into circles roughly the size of a side plate, or approximately 20cm in diameter.
- Add the vegetables and meat on top of the pastry, making sure to add seasoning as you go
- Fold the pastry and crimp the edges together.
- Glaze with an egg and milk mixture.
- Bake for roughly 50 - 55 minutes at 165 degrees Celsius.