Pasty Recipe (Cornish Pasties) | Kitchn

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Pasties, or Cornish pasties as they are commonly known in the United Kingdom, originated from (yes, you guessed it) Cornwall, a beautiful part of the country based at the most southern tip of England. The meat- and vegetable-filled hand pies are said to date back to the 1200s and were commonly made by the wives and mothers of miners, who would take them to work for lunch when mining was thriving in the area. 

Pasties are the British equivalent to an American hand pie, but the Cornish variety is famous for its crimp (usually on the side). The crimp was a handle for the miners to hold onto. Once the pasty had been eaten, the crimped edge would be covered in black coal and dirt, so it was always thrown away and only ever meant to be discarded — although they are eaten now, and some might say they are the best part. The miners’ pasties would have a savory filling on one end and fruit on the other, so it was lunch and pudding, all rolled into one!

The Traditional Pasty Filling Ingredients

Although there are many variations and types of pasties, these are the fillings of a traditional Cornish pasty.

I’m not going to lie: Crimping isn’t easy! There is a knack to it, and here is a helpful video to show you how to do it. However, if the pastry starts to get a bit warm and you’re starting to lose patience, you can always seal it by pressing along the edge with a fork.

Secrets of Making Great Cornish Pasties 

I did weeks of research trying to create the best pasty pastry for the home cook, asking friends far and wide (thank you, Janet Taylor-McCracken and Lucy Taylor!). Lucy, a dear old friend of mine, and owner of Sarah’s Pasty Shop in the beautiful coastal town of Looe, Cornwall, gave me tips on how they make such delicious pasties in their brick-and-mortar shop. I’m lucky enough to say I’ve had one, so I can vouch that it’s the best Cornish pasty I’ve ever eaten. 

The pastry made in her shop calls for a 50:50 ratio of lard to flour, which, let me tell you, is delicious! However, as lard can be tricky to find here, I adapted the recipe to use more accessible grocery store ingredients, using a mix of cold butter and cold vegetable shortening, and including a splash of buttermilk (thank you, Janet!) to add additional flakiness.

One valid point that Lucy made is it is essential to use a hard, strong (which means a high-protein-content) all-purpose flour. This creates a more robust pastry so the pasty can hold its own without falling apart. Here, you can see what flours are the hardest — King Arthur and Bob’s Red Mill have the highest percentage of protein and are the most recommended brands for this recipe. 

Sarah’s Pasty Shop makes the filling in layers, pre-seasoning and mixing the rutabaga and potatoes, but seasoning the steak and onion separately within the filling, then repeating with another layer of rutabaga and spuds. Lucy says, “It’s like braiding hair!” To make this home cook version a bit speedier, I combined all the ingredients and seasoned them all at once.

Best Fillings for Pasties

Once you have the pastry made, you can pretty much fill it with whatever your heart desires. You can take some inspiration from Lucy’s store’s current Cornish pasty menu. Make sure you use no more than a 3/4 packed cup of filling for the size of this pastry round in this recipe or it will be too full to seal.

Tara Holland

Contributor

Tara Holland is a British mom of two teenage girls residing in Brooklyn. She changed her successful career midlife from the financial corporate world to follow her culinary dream and graduated with honors at the Institute of Culinary Education in 2017. She went on to become an Assistant Food Editor at Rachael Ray Every Day magazine, and is now a freelance recipe developer, writer, and recipe tester.





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