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The Cornish Pasty

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Traditional Cornish miners' pasty - en how to make un

The traditional Cornish pasty with a dessert at one end

"Cornish tin miners' pasty
Good for Cornish farmers, too
In fact, good for all the Cornish
En ee's just as good for you!"

After deliberation and practice, The Cornish Pasty brings you something special - like my Mother used to make!

There are several mentions on the internet about these pasties, variously known as .....

Until recently, the making of these pasties seems to have fallen into abeyance. Recipes are hard to find. It may be because when these pasties were made for miners - and I had a few calls about this after my short "spot" about them on Radio Cornwall - the people involved were rarely literate let alone in the business of writing recipe books. They were too busy scratching a living and pasty recipes were handed down the generations by word of mouth.

Pasty-making is a mix of art and science and the old people would make them using traditional ingredients but when times were hard, they used what they had - if there was no meat then you had a tiddy oggy. The recipe below is for traditional miners' pasties and the making of them is based partly on The Pasty Recipe, a family poem.



Pastry / dough
This is for shortcrust or short pastry (not rough puff or flakey)
Makes four large pasties - 11 inches (27 cm)
- usually with enough leftovers for a 6-inch (15-cm) pasty for our grand-daughter.

1 lbs plain flour (680 g) Sift to add air to the mixture.
1 lb Stork margarine (450 g) Healthier than lard, and possibly better tasting.
pint (precise!) cold water (470 ml) I aim to have a small amount left after making the dough,
a level teaspoon of salt Low-sodium for me - add it to the water.
1 tsp of sugar If you want a sweeter taste to the pastry.
  1. Put the flour into a mixing bowl.
  2. Grate the margarine into the bowl using a coarse grater.
  3. Mix the two together with the fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs
    - do this above the bowl so that air can get into the mixture.
  4. Make a pit in the mixture and add some of the salted water and mix it in with the fingers
    - do not knead, it stretches the dough and excess gluten will develop
    - however, I sometimes knead, thinking it makes a stronger dough.
  5. Continue doing this until the mixture forms a single ball of dough
    - if it is too wet, add a little more flour.
  6. Put the dough in the fridge for one hour
    for three reasons .....
         1. it chills the "fat" so that the dough will roll out more easily
         2. it allows the gluten to soften and relax, making the dough more tender
         3. it allows the water to spread and make the dough more consistently hydrated.
  7. Use this hour to prepare the vegetables and meat.

Other ingredients

Main course filling - meat & vegetables

Swede/yellow turnip (American: rutabaga) Prepare this first, cut a slice about -inch (5 mm) thick for each pasty, this is a hard root vegetable needing a sharp knife - take care
Peel the edge of the slice - a potato peeler is good.
Dice it - i.e. cut into -inch (5 mm) cubes.
Skirt beef lb (340 g)
or chuck steak as an alternative
Trim any fat etc. and cut into pieces about -inch (1 cm) cube and cover.
Onions - one large for each large pasty Peel and dice or cut into thick cubes and cover.
Potatoes, one big one for each large pasty Peel and cut into slivers or small slices or dice - your choice!
Do this last because it will blacken if left exposed for too long
- can be left under water to keep good if necessary.
Salt Again, low-sodium for me.
Ground pepper It is said white pepper for taste and black pepper for scent,
best when freshly ground.
Butter or substitute A knob of butter on the meat keeps the pasty moist after cooking.
No butter gives a dry pasty, too much gives a leaking pasty.
I use as much as for a slice of bread = a moderately heaped tsp?

"Afters" - dessert filling
Cooking apple -inch (1 cm) thick slice per pasty, cored and peeled.
You have to play with the shape for yourself, sometimes using bits!
Cinnamon - good pinch To taste - I fill the tip of a small teaspoon, added to the apple.
Brown sugar To cover the apple.
Sultanas, cherries, dried fig, apricot or date. Sultanas - small handful on top of the apple, other fruits are chopped into approximately sultana-sized pieces. Remove any sultana stalks
and de-stone cherries.


Preparing and filling the pasties
- the oven can be pre-heating to 200C, 400F or Gas Regulo 6 at this stage

  1. Cut the dough into 4 pieces
  2. Roll one piece into a circle the size of a dinner plate e.g. 11 ins (27 cm)
    - if you can't roll a good circle, use the plate as a template and cut around it, keep the scraps
  3. Lift half of the dough circle over the rolling pin, ready for filling
  4. Make a small oblong of pastry, wet one edge and press down like a hinge near one end of the pasty: this will form the divider between the two fillings (in the photo, it is the edge nearest the middle that is wetted and pressed down).


  1. Add the meat / vegetable filling. There are various ways of doing this, I prefer:
         1. a layer of potato plus seasoning
         2. a layer of turnip plus seasoning 
         3. a layer of meat, plus seasoning - plus a knob of butter
         Optional - I sometimes add a few drops of Lee & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce to the meat for extra flavour.
         4. a layer of onion, plus seasoning.

The butter is important, without it the pasty will be dry. I use enough on a knife to well-butter a slice of bread. Too much, and the pasty will be wet.

  1. Fold the pastry divider up over the end of the meat/vegetable filling.
  2. Add the dessert filling
         1. starting with the layer of apple
         2. adding the cinnamon and spread it with the back of a teaspoon
         3. brown sugar
         4. sultanas.

This pasty had chopped dried apricot instead of sultanas


  1. Wet the top edge of the dividing pasty flap and the edges of the pastry dough
  2. Close the pasty by lifting the rolling pin and bringing the two edges together
    - any stretching at this stage leads to shrinkage later
  3. Press the edges down with the edge of the hand all round - this thins the pastry and makes for a smaller crust
  4. Turn the pasty 180 so that the edges are towards you and roll the left edge up and in, pressing the overlap down with the thumb. The next section can be lifted, rolled and pressed with just the thumb so that a rope-like effect is achieved. At the end of the crimping, turn the last piece down under the pasty. A short movie of this can be seen by clicking on the photo below .....

Click this photo for a movie about how to crimp a Cornish pasty
The pasty before baking.
Click on the image above to see a movie about crimping.

  1. Pierce a hole in the pasty to let the steam out during baking, otherwise it will swell like a balloon.
  2. Add any identifying initials made from scrap pastry, putting them at the dessert end.
  3. Glaze the pasty with milk or beaten egg for a golden brown finish after baking. I use milk.



If there are any, these can often make a pasty pie, on a plate, covered with pastry - 'tis not the Cornish way to waste them!


Baking the pasties

The oven should be preheated.

200C, 400F or Gas Regulo 6 for 30 minutes
because the pastry needs to be cooked quickly, then turn down to .....

160C, 325F or Gas Regulo 3 for 30 minutes
to finish cooking the meat etc. Perhaps less time for non-meat pasties.

After baking, the pasties should be put on a rack to cool.


The steam hole is at the meat and veg. end,
the personal initial is at the sweet end.


And if you get this far, you deserve this joke, reputedly from Jethro, the Cornish comedian: The original pasty actually had three compartments - there was a very small one at the end to hold your After Eight mint.

All courtesy of The Cornish Pasty webmaster, pasty-maker extraordinaire ................ if Father could see me now!


Celtic spiral animation