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The Cornish Pasty

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Cornish whole meal pasty
Great pasty

Also: Cornish pastry

This pasty recipe, on page 379 of British Cookery, edited by Lizzie Boyd, may be related to the recipe mentioned in Hettie Merrick's The Pasty Book where she describes a booklet compiled by members of St Gwinear Church (see page 6 of The Pasty Book). It may be worth noting that Gwinear is very near Hayle, where both my mother and an aunt of my wife made these pasties 60 years ago. I have spoken to a member of the bell ringers at Gwinear Church who is also on the parish council but after making enquiries she told me that nobody had the booklet, although someone remembered hearing about it. They thought it must be over twenty years old.

In British Cookery, it is described as a "wholemeal" pasty on page 379 and on page 45 it is a "wholemeat" pasty, we believe these are either linguistic or typographical errors because it uses shortcrust pastry (and all the shortcrust pastry recipes in the book use plain flour, not wholemeal) and  "whole meal" sounds more appropriate as it is an "all-in-one" pasty, with meat and vegetables at one end and a sweet filling at the other.

That said, there are genuine "wholemeal" pasties elsewhere with chicken that use wholemeal flour; also here using braising steak.

The recipe is very simple, consisting of 1 lb portions of shortcrust pastry, sweet filling and meat and vegetable filling.

The pastry is cut into eight large rounds, after keeping a piece for later use to separate the fillings (I find 1 lb of pastry makes only four large pasties). The description of the use of the separate strip of pastry in the recipe: it says to roll it into a 1"-wide strip and place across the rounds to divide them in half, placing the fillings on either side of the strip. The pasties are closed towards the centre, with a pastry S on the outside to mark the sweet filling and an M to mark the meat filling. They are then cooked for 30 minutes at 190C/375F/gas mark 5 (I find 30 minutes too little).

However, this is the only published British recipe for an all-in-one Cornish pasty.


"British Cookery" - ed. Lizzie Boyd
Image used with permission
British Tourist Authority, 1976
Second edition 1988
Christopher Helm (Publishers) Ltd
ISBN 0-7470-0223-1


The book has some very interesting recipes from all over Britain. There is a good summary of regional dishes including forty-four from Cornwall. These include: black cake, broccoli pasty, clotted cream, Cornish pasty, Cornish splits, fairings, figgie hobbin, fish pie, likky paste or pie, mackeral, muggety pie, mullet pie, pichard hot-pot, pilchard pie, pitchy cake, potato cakes, rumfustian, rum booze, sampson, saffron cakes, Sennen Cove conger stew, squab pie, stargazy pie and sultana cake. Not mentioned in the list but included on page 472 is one of my favourites - Cornish Heavy Cake.

There is also a good collection of pastry recipes:

  1. savoury shortcrust pastry

  2. sweet shortcrust pastry

  3. rich shortcrust pastry

  4. spiced shortcrust pastry

  5. cheese shortcrust pastry

  6. oatmeal pastry

  7. savoury suet pastry

  8. sweet suet pastry

  9. puff pastry

  10. rough puff pastry

  11. flaky pastry

  12. Cornish pastry (see below), and

  13. hot water crust or raised pie pastry.

Cornish pastry
: 1 lb plain flour, pinch of salt, 4 oz suet, pint of water, 4 oz lard. Mix the suet, flour and salt. Add the water and mix to a stiff paste. Roll out and add the lard in small pieces as for flaky pastry. Roll out three more times and use for meat pie crusts.

Acknowledgement: We are grateful to Claire Weatherhead, Permissions, A&C Black Publishers Ltd. for permission to use the photo of the front cover of the book, British Cookery, on The Cornish Pasty.


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