CORNISH PASTIES

I'm here in Falmouth, Cornwall. It really is a trip I've needed to take for a long time, with nothing but food and the seaside on my agenda. Though the first pasty I ate here, whilst perfectly pasty like, just wasn't quite seasoned enough for me. That and the fact that there were only two little chunks of beef floating about a sea of onions, made me realise that perhaps I should just make my own. 

Being from a farming family, I rarely use margarine for fear of abandonment and family shame, but in Cornish pasty pastry I really think it is a must. It helps to achieve that all important flaky, fatty pastry.

(c) John Whaite

Ingredients (makes 4)

For the Pastry

  • Pinch saffron strands
  • 600g plain flour 
  • 150g margarine 
  • 150g lard 
  • Coarsely ground black pepper 

For the Filling

  • 400g beef skirt or chuck steak, finely chopped 
  • 180g potato, peeled and finely sliced 
  • 180g swede, peeled and finely sliced 
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped 
  • Maldon sea salt flakes
  • Coarsely ground black pepper 
  • Egg, beaten, to glaze

Method

This really couldn't be simpler. Soak the saffron strands in 100ml water and leave until a brilliant yellowy gold. Meanwhile, rub the flour with the margarine and lard until you have coarse breadcrumbs with a few flaky pea sized chunks of floury fat. Toss through a good teaspoon of black pepper. Strain the saffron water into a jug and add to the flour. Using a dough scraper or a butter knife, cut the water in until the dough starts to clump together. Turn the pastry out onto the counter and gently fold it together a few times until it forms a smooth dough. Flatten into a disk and wrap in cling. Chill for at least 30 minutes. 

For the filling, mix the beef, potato, swede and onion together in a bowl along with a heaped teaspoon of sea salt flakes and a heaped tablespoon of the black pepper (make sure it's coarse though and not finely ground, ditto with the salt, otherwise you'll have an over seasoned pasty). Place to one side until needed. 

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan. Divide the pastry into 4 and roll each portion out into a circle of roughly 25cm diameter. Do this on a well floured worktop - the trick is to keep the pastry moving so that it doesn't stick to the board. If the pastry is a little stiff and cracks a bit, just give it a gentle knead until it's more obedient. Place a 23/24cm (approx.) diameter plate onto the pastry and cut it into a neat circle. Place a quarter of the filling mixture into the centre of the pastry circle. Glaze one half of the pastry with a little beaten egg, then fold the pastry over to create a half moon pasty shape. Crimp the edges (there is a tutorial video here), then glaze the top of the pasty with a little more beaten egg. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling, then arrange the pasties on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200C/180C fan and bake for a final 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.