Real Cornish Pasties

What's this got to do with bread? 

Well, it's simple really. I had to do a lot of research and homework to discover what made a real Cornish pasty. There are World Cornish Pasty Champions out there lovingly creating 'ansome pasties and I wanted to discover their secrets. 

And I've found the key. They all use strong white bread flour in order to develop the gluten necessary to create a strong, yet pliable, pastry. Strong white bread flour is a staple in any bread baker's kitchen, so I feel justified in including this recipe at BreadClub20. 

The traditional Cornish Pasty has had Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in Europe since 2011. It's a 'national dish' and accounts for 6% of the Cornish food economy. So, we have to be careful that the recipe and the method we use follow PGI guidelines. Especially so if we are to label this as a 'real' Cornish pasty. 

'Pasty' as a word comes from Medieval French where it refers to as a pie - usually venison, veal, beef or mutton, often mixed with various vegetables. 

By 1300, Henry III's charter to Great Yarmouth refers to 'pasties' as part of the taxes required to be sent to the Sheriff of Norfolk. You can almost hear the cries of the peasants -  'Who ate all the pasties!"

Throughout the centuries it was always a food for the wealthier citizen, although by the mid-17th century, the use of the word 'pasty' was dying out outside of Devon and Cornwall. 

In the 17th and 18th centuries, in Cornwall, the pasty became a popular food with tin miners, due to its unique shape. It was an all-in-one meal that could be transported to work, wrapped up in cloth to keep both clean and warm, and eaten, no doubt, out of a rather grimy fist. 

It was traditionally warmed up on a shovel by the heat of a candle and eaten from end to end so that the thick pastry at one end could be held by filthy fingers and discarded. There is also a lovely story which claims that each pasty carried an initial at one end. That way, it could be reclaimed by its owner as a snack for later on during the shift. 

Pasties are now eaten the world over. There's even a Museum of Pasties in Real del Monte, Mexico, formed by the Cornish-Mexican Cultural Society.   

The Cornish pasty is unique and has to be made with precise ingredients and in a precise way. 

Let's give it a go. 


For 6 pasties

For the pastry

500 gms of strong white bread flour

125 gms diced unsalted butter

120 gms diced lard

1 teaspoon sea salt

175 mls cold water

For the filling

400 gms diced beef skirt 

350 gms waxy potato - peeled and diced

150 gms diced swede (the orange swede not the white turnip. In the US, it's known as a rutabaga)

150 gms chopped onion

salt and pepper

egg wash for glazing - I used egg and milk and I'll confess to the 'streaks'......egg wash would give a better finish. 


For the pastry

Strong white bread flour, salt, lard, butter and water

Mix to a crumb-like consistency

Ready for 3 hrs in the refrigerator

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour with the salt and mix. 
  2. Add the butter and lard and rub together until you have a mix that resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Slowly add the water and mix together to form a dough. 
  4. Tip out onto a very lightly-floured board and knead until you have a silky and pliable dough. 
  5. Wrap the dough in a plasic bag and place in the refrigerator for THREE hours. 
  6. After the chilling time, roll out the dough to a thickness of 3mm - it's up to you, but not too think. This is resiliant pastry, it shouldn't split. 
  7. Cut six circles 20 cms in diameter using a pie tin, plate or something similar as a template.
For the filling

Beef, swede, potato and onion 

  1. Mix the beef with the onion, the swede and the potato in  large bowl
  2. Season with salt and pepper. You may wish to add more pepper than usual? 
  3. Weigh the mix and divide into six equal portions. 

Portion control : 184 gms per pasty

Making the pasty

Mrs Miggins rolls out the pastry

  1. Brush the outer edge of the pasty with water
  2. Place the portion of the filling into the middle of the pastry circle and bring the edges together. 
  3. Crimp the edge of the pastry - there's an excellent demonstration of how to crimp a pasty at: or at
  4. Brush the pasty with egg and milk glaze and place on a baking sheet.
  5. Heat the oven to 165⁰C and place a rack in the middle of your oven 
  6. Bake for 50 - 55 minutes. 
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
Ready for the oven. The mix actually made seven pasties. 

Pasties will freeze once cooked and can be thawed and heated through. 

Note to self - use pure egg wash next time - don't 'dilute' it with milk. I don't lke the streaks. 

Happy baking....


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