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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cornish Pasties - The Research

Cornish Pasties

I've been wanting to make my own Cornish Pasties for some time now. I'm working on finding a great recipe and the technique to get a proper one made. With the help of some friends and YouTube I think I've found the recipe and how-to knowledge to get the job done.

According to Wikipedia - The Cornish Pasty is commonly associated with Cornwall, United Kingdom. It differs from a pie as it is made by placing the filling on a flat pastry shape, usually a circle, and folding it to wrap the filling, crimping the edge to form a seal. The result is a raised semicircular package. The traditional Cornish pasty is filled with diced beef, sliced potato and onion, and baked.

Just about every recipe I could find had turnip (or swede) in them as well. There is a woman who comes to a lot of the farmers markets in the area that makes pasties of all sorts, and they're pretty darned good - I'm on a mission to do better!

The Pastry:

The pastry part of the recipe I'm using came from a video I found on YouTube by a lady named Dianna Tennant ( - it's a great video and I suggest you check it out...). I looked at a multitude of recipes and hers looked the best out of all of them! She stated she had some 60 years of experience with making them so that's good enough for me! The only thing I changed from what she did in the video is add shortening/lard to the recipe. She did all butter for these because as mentioned in the video someone there was a vegetarian. I might add a simple eggwash for the top of the pastry before baking but I'm going to play with that thought for a while...

12 ounces all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2.5 ounces cold, unsalted butter
2.5 ounces lard/shortening
10-12 tablespoons cold water

Put the flour in a large bowl and stir in the salt. Grate the cold butter and lard/shortening into the flour. Lightly rub the fat into the flour - do not over mix it - there will be some large bits of the fat left over (I'm guessing this will be a uber flaky pastry once baked). Start with 7 tablespoons of the water and mix it in . Add another 3 tablespoons of water and continue to mix with your hands. Move the part of the mixture that has come together to one side of the bowl and add the remaining two tablespoons of water to the dry part. You do not need to knead the dough much - just bring it together. Divide the dough into for equal portions and roll out on a well floured surface one at a time. I will have to play with it but it looks like she rolled them out to a 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. Fill, crimp in that special Cornish Pasties way, poke a small hole to let steam escape, and cook them on partchment paper for an hour at 400 degreese (200 C).

The Filling:

I couldn't find one recipe for the filling that really knocked my socks off - so I've talken a mixture of some of my favorites I found and came up with my own...

10 ounces chuck steak, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small Idaho potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more if your a pepperholic like I am)

Basically I'm guessing I'm just going to prep everything and divide it up amongst the 4 pasties. No prep is involved other than washing, peeling (where needed) and dicing the items. They all go in uncooked and everybody gets well seasoned as they go in.

I'm going to try these out in the next few weeks and will post a video and the exact recipe I end up using - so make sure to come back and see my triumph or tragedy in the Cornish Pasties challenge...

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