Traditional Cornish Pasty

A traditional Cornish Pasty dates back to the 13th century and is wrapped in all sorts of rumour and mystery. This version is as traditional as it gets and it is unbelievable how much flavour you can get from such simple ingredients.

Square image of a traditional Cornish Pasty against a steamy dark back drop

The Traditional Cornish Pasty.

Cornish Pasties dates back to the 13th century and unsurprisingly is the source of much discussion. When I say discussion I mean argument!

However to call this dish famous in the UK would be an understatement. Any foodstuff name-checked in classics like the Robin Hood Chronicles, the Canterbury Tales and no less than three works of Shakespeare is no shrinking violet.

In short, the humble Cornish pasty is nothing more than a ‘hand pie’ as I see them called on the web. The filling is with four very good things and some salt and pepper.

Those four things are Potato, Onion, Swede (rutabaga elsewhere) and finally beef. It is then seasoned and wrapped in a pastry.

Tall image of a traditional Cornish Pasty broken open showing the filling against a steamy dark back drop

The Pastry For Pasties…

I have a few pies here on Krumpli. I usually advocate store-bought bought puff pastry for both my beef and ale pie and my chicken and mushroom pie.

Without reservation, I recommend making your own pastry for a Cornish pasty.

A shortcrust pastry is a perfect pastry for a traditional Cornish Pasty. Mixing half butter and lard as the fat content really maximises this function. It is simple and all you have to do is work cold and use a food processor.

The most important aspect of the pastry is to lock in both the ingredients but also the steam and juices. That is the key to the flavour!

Afterwards, it is baked in a slow oven to allow the flavours and juices to play. They are delicious straight from the oven but even better at room temperature if you ask me.

Landscape image of a traditional Cornish Pasty against a steamy dark back drop

Myths Legends and Trivia!

Traditionally food of Cornish ‘miners’, if rumour is to be believed. The crimped crust serves as a hand hold and was discarded, because, well mucky hands of course.

By all means feel free to do this but I would advise you to have your head checked. The crust is the best bit!

I’ll leave you with one final bit of pasty trivia. A pasty crimped by a left handed person is called a cock pasty and a pasty crimped by a right handed pasty is a hen pasty, because… Well because nobody knows but do some digging and you will find plenty of Pasty folklore!

It is hard to believe how much flavour you can get from so few ingredients but believe it you should!

Square image of half of a traditional Cornish Pasty showing filling against a steamy dark back drop
Traditional Cornish Pasty

Traditional Cornish Pasty

Yield: 4 Pies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Additional Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes

A traditional Cornish Pasty is what Americans know as a hand pie, filled with very simple ingredients it is hard to believe just how much flavour these beef pies have!

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 250 g Flour
  • 60 g Lard, Shortning in the US.
  • 60 g Butter
  • 85 ml Cold Water
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt

For the Filling:

  • 250 g Beef, I use sirloin, cut into strips.
  • 125 g Potato
  • 75 g Swede, 5mm dice.
  • 50 g Onion, Sliced.
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Pepper
  • 1 Egg, For glazing the pie.

Instructions

  1. Add the flour, salt, lard and butter to a food mixer and bring together.
  2. Pour in the water and mix until a ball is formed.
  3. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 3 hours.
  4. Chop and combine all of the ingredients for the filling with the exception of the egg.
  5. Divide the pastry into four and then roll out so that you can cut out 20cm discs.
  6. Place a quarter of the filling on each disc and then fold over sealing with water.
  7. Crimp the pasties by pinching the fold between your thumb and fore finger.
  8. Then fold over and continue until the entire edge is crimped, you can of course fold over in any method that works for you.
  9. Brush over with the beaten egg.
  10. Bake in a fan assisted oven at 160°C or 320°F for 50-55 minutes or 180°C or 350°F in a standard oven.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 838 Total Fat: 48g Saturated Fat: 21g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 22g Cholesterol: 167mg Sodium: 1108mg Carbohydrates: 68g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 7g Protein: 32g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

24 thoughts on this Recipe:

  1. When I was 10,11 and 12 I lived in Adelaide,Australia. On the playground there was a covered stand that was open around noon and they sold cornish pastry pies.Wonderful memories. They had a certain spice that I couldn’t discern,and they wouldn’t tell me what it was.I think someone else must have made them and this person just sold them.What memories !!!!!

    Reply
    • Traditionally the only spice used is black pepper and there was always loads of it. But I have had them with all sorts in and almost always love them. Food memories are always so powerful and make me smile!

      Reply
  2. Here in the upper peninsula of Michigan USA, the Finns have stolen the pasty and call it a Finnish Pasty! I always correct them and get into wild arguments about this. They even add carrots! Lends the wrong flavor. I am Finnish by heritage, but one of my grandfathers was born in St. Erth, Cornwall and your recipe is similar to mine. Made 19 the other day and were just delicious. I used ground beef and pork, but usually do steak like you do in this recipe.

    Reply
    • lol, ain’t nothing like a good food argument! This is super traditional and sticks to the “accepted” definition of a Cornish pasty, but I love to play, I do one with chicken thighs and curry flavours that is superb, I doubt I’d call it a Cornish pasty though 😉

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  3. I understand that left handed people were called cock-handed, like cock-eyed, and it was frowned upon to be cock-handed. Everyone was forced to use their right hand or be ridiculed. Maybe that is were part of the left / right description came from?

    Reply
  4. On the nose. Only reservation is the butter, personally I go for 100% lard for the pastry. Also agree with previous review (P.L.) that hand-making the shortcrust gives it the irregularity in texture that makes the pasty itself special – I very much doubt that cornish miners’ wives would have been aware of, let alone owned, a food processor. Otherwise, thank you for making people aware that a proper Cornish pasty is not some awful mush of dogfood wrapped in soggy puff pastry. Respect.

    Reply
    • Hand made pastry may work in moderate climates but in my hot kitchen then it is an impossibility for a huge part of the year, this is likely the case for my global audience too 😉 Making it in a food processor gives a consistent pastry all year round, I’ll likely update my post to make this clear over the next few days 🙂 I have genuinely never understood the puff pastry thing for pasties and heaven forbid sausage rolls, sacrilege I say!

      A cornish pasty is a beautiful thing, hard to believe how much flavour you can get out of so few ingredients really.

      Reply
  5. Food Processor? You have got to be kidding me! My grandmother and mother did not know these machines existed. This is supposed to show people how pasties were originally made. Use what God gave you. Your hands.

    Reply
    • The household food mixer predates the domestic refrigerator, both are 500 years younger than the Pasty… Should we also not chill the butter for the pastry, or indeed refrigerate the beef #askingforafriend

      Reply
  6. Bravo! I grew up in northern Michigan, where Cornish miners transplanted this tradition, and there, they’re called pasties. I love them. I’m looking forward to trying your recipe.

    Reply
    • Cheers Jeff… Enjoy, I can’t really claim this one, this recipe has largely remained unchanged for hundreds of years and is largely identical to the ‘protected’ status recipe, just slightly different vegetable ratios 🙂

      Reply
  7. These pasties are looking to die for! I would have 3 and ask for seconds too! Great photography too x

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  8. These look absolutely mouth watering…and that filling sounds delicious!! What a perfect springtime dish! Can’t wait to make some!

    Reply
    • They make a fab picnic dish, they are robust enough to be rattled around a little and add some chutney and you are laughing 🙂

      Reply
  9. Wow, these are Cornish Pasty really impressive! Looks very tasty! I definitely want to try this cool recipe! I think this will be one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing this great recipe!

    Reply
    • lol, even in Cornwall they argue about a ‘real Cornish’ pasty 😉 Enjoy and chuck what ever you want in there and make it your own, just don’t tell anyone form Cornwall 😉

      Reply

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