Dan manages admirably to live in the US without traditional English foods, but he does miss Cornish pasties.
In May 2016 Davis and Grayson and I watched an episode of Factory Food that documented the production of Cornish pasties in England. We were intrigued by the big machines, one for each step of what I would call “cooking”. However, a tableful of ladies in white coveralls and white caps performed the final step of sealing the pasties. Faster than the eye could see, the ladies produced as if by magic a lovely braided pastry seal for each pasty.
Fortunately, I have been able to provide the occasional Cornish pasty for Dan after adapting this recipe, based on from The Hairy Bikers’ Food Tour of Britain cookbook. It makes 6 Cornish pasties. The recipe originally called for swedes, known as rutabagas in the States, but Dan likes peas and carrots in his Cornish pasties. I also use more butter to make the pastry easier to work.
(I had not learned to crimp the edges properly when these pictures were taken. Your pasties will be prettier.)
It takes me about 2 hours to produce 6 pasties ready for the oven.
Cornish Pasty Pastry
3 cups (450 g) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick and 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup (125 ml) cold water
Cornish pasty filling
3 small-medium potatoes, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
3/4 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
10 ounces beef skirt, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten
To make the pastry: Place the flour, baking powder, salt, butter and egg yolks into a food processor and blitz until the mixture forms crumbs. Slowly add the water until a ball of pastry miraculously appears – you may not need all the water. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and leave it to chill in the fridge for an hour.
To prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Season the vegetables separately with salt and black pepper. Put the beef into a bowl and mix with the flour and some salt and pepper.
Divide the pastry into 6 equal chunks. Put all but one chunk back in the fridge and take them out one at a time as you make the pasties. Roll out the pastry to a little more than 11 inches in diameter. Using an 11-inch dinner plate and a sharp knife, cut out a disc of pastry and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Put some potatoes, peas, carrots, onions and beef on one half of the circle, leaving a one-inch gap round the edge. Dot the filling with butter. Brush around the bottom-half edge of the pastry circle with the beaten egg, then fold the pastry over the vegetables and meat, so that the bottom-half edge protrudes about half an inch beyond the top-half edge. Press the edges together and seal firmly. Fold the bottom half edge over the top half edge. Starting at one side, crimp the edges over by placing 2 fingers of your left hand behind the edge, then poking one finger of your right hand into the V formed by the two fingers; repeat until the entire edge is crimped. Brush the whole pasty generously with beaten egg, then make a steam hole in the centre with a sharp knife.
To see an excellent video of all this folding and crimping, check out Chef John’s YouTube video for Apple Hand Pies.
Repeat to make the other pasties. Put the pasties in the oven and cook for 50 minutes until they are crispy and golden and the filling is cooked through. Leave them to rest for 5-10 mins before eating.