What is a Cornish Pasty? How do you make on? How can you spot a fake? Why are they so delicious?
Below, on the left, is a picture of a Cornish Pasty.
Having studied it carefully look at the next picture.
Only one of them is a proper, real, genuine one; but which one is it? Number one or number two?
Here is a big clue for you, which I have taken from the Cornish Pasty Association:
"A genuine one has a distinctive 'D' shape and is crimped on one side, never on top. The texture of the filling is chunky, made up of uncooked minced or roughly cut chunks of beef (not less than 12.5%),
swede or turnip, potato and onion and a light peppery seasoning."
Got it now? Figured out which one is the real one and which is the imposter?
YES! The real pasty is the first one. The D shaped one which has been crimped at the edge and not on the top.
The reason for the crimping at the edge being the main distinguishing feature is due to the fact that the original
pasties were crimped that way to provide a 'handle' so that the miners and farmworkers, who took them for their lunch each day, could hold them easily whilst eating the actual pasty.
And that's how the pasty became such a big hit.
Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, taking a good, wholesome, filling and appetizing meal to work was not easy, especially
when you were working in the fields or in a mine and that's when the popularity of the pasty really grew.
There are historical references to the existence of pasties as far back as the 12th and 13th centuries but it is once we
come to the 18th century onwards that the pasty really caught on. And it is easy to see why.
These days, the range has grown out of all proportion and now there are so many flavours to choose from.
Not too many years ago when my addicition started (around 1970 I suppose) there was just one standard, traditional pasty. What the shops now sell as the 'traditional' . That was it.
There was no variety of flavours to chose from. But now! Well, there is everything, it seems, from chicken and stuffing
to tikka flavours.
Now then. How do you make a pasty? Well . . . . . I think there are many answers to that question and if you speak to people who have been making them from recipes handed down through the generations, you will discover that there are many subtle variations.
But, essentially, this is how:
225 gm plain flour
115 gm fat (mixture of lard & butter)
pinch of salt
225 gm steak cut into small cubes
2 or 3 large potatoes
piece of turnip or swede
onion, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
1. Sift the flour with the salt, rub in the fat and mix to a pliable consistency with some water, leave to rest for half
2. Roll out half the pastry into a round about 5mm thick (quarter of an inch)
3. Peel and slice the potatoes thinly onto the centre of round to form a base for the rest of the filling
4. Slice the turnip thinly over the potato, then spread the beef on top.
5. Add a little onion, season with salt and pepper
6. Dampen the edge of the circle of pastry with water to help seal it, bring together the edges make a parcel with the
filling in the centre.
7. There should be a neat pastry parcel. If you do get any holes, then patch them with a little extra pastry.
You can make the pastry neater by crimping the edges. Fold over the edge to make it slightly thicker, then
squeeze tightly every 2 cms to make a neat pattern along the edge.
8 Put the pastry on a piece of buttered paper, make a small slit on the top to let the steam brush the top with a
little milk, and put it on a greased baking tray.
9. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C (gas mark 6) for 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 190C (gas mark 5) and cook
for another 30 minutes.
10. You can make one as a starter, by making it smaller. Use a saucer as a template to get the size
There are many recipes and many variations on recipes that are available. The recipe above is one that I have simply borrowed and reproduced.
Many people experiment and add their own little touches and variations. Just 2 main points to remember.
Firstly, it must be D shaped and secondly, the meat content must be at least 12.5% (which is one eigth, for the mathematically challenged amongst you!)
This pasty link will take you back to the food and fun page