Cornish Pasties

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Cornish Pasties

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Published prior to 2008

While pastry has served as a container for food for centuries, a Cornish pasty is unique to Cornwall, a memento of its mining past although they are eaten by everyone, for lunch, for tea, whenever a quick and portable meal is needed. It was designed to accompany a miner to the mine in his pocket and it contained enough for at least a couple of meals. The miner's initials were usually carved into one end, to vent steam as it baked and so there would be no question to whom the pasty belonged.

Pasties today are a bit smaller and the fillings are not quite the hearty fare they were in the past. The following recipe also works with the fillings in Savory Pies for Supper.

The Pasty Pastry
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) lard (traditional but you can substitute vegetable shortening and/or butter)
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for wash

A Traditional Miner's Filling
1 cup turnips, coarsely chopped
1 pound cubed or diced lean beef (uncooked)
1 medium onion (3/4 to 1 cup), chopped
2 cups potatoes, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

To make the pastry: Combine the flour and salt. Cut the lard into small pieces and distribute evenly over the flour. With two knives, a pastry cutter or your fingertips, cut or rub the fat lightly into the flour, lifting it up as you do to incorporate as much air as possible and to keep the mixture cool. Continue until the mixture resembles cracker crumbs.

Beat the egg, water and vinegar together. Sprinkle this lightly over the flour mixture, using a fork to distribute it as evenly as possible.

Gather the dough together, knead it gently until it becomes cohesive and divide it into four pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and chill while you prepare your filling. As a result of the kneading, you will develop the gluten somewhat, usually a "no-no" in making pastry. In this case, because these are hand-held pastries, you want a dough that will hold together. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until they are golden brown. (The smaller pasties will bake more quickly; the uncooked fillings will need a longer baking time.)

To make the filling: Put all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and mix together with your hands or a large spoon. This filling is placed uncooked in the pasty to cook along with the pasty in the oven.

Assembly and baking:

After the filling is ready, roll each piece of dough out on a floured surface into four 6-inch (approximately) circles (or, for "two-bite" pasties, ten 3 1/2-inch circles).

Place a dollop of filling in the center. Dampen the edges, bring them up and over the filling and pinch them together. Flute the edge as you would the edge of a pie crust so it looks like the back of a tiny dinosaur. Turn up the ends just a bit so they look a little like devil's horns. (This helps keep the filling and juices inside the pasty.)

Cut a design (or initials) on one of the sides, as you would a pie crust, to release steam.

Place the pasties on their backs on a greased baking sheet so their fluted seamed edges are up. Brush with the egg wash. Bake at 400°F for the first 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for a further 25 to 30 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving (1 pasty, 280 g): 478 cal, 22 g fat, 24 g protein, 44 g complex carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, 169 mg cholesterol, 434 mg sodium, 576 mg potassium, 13 mg vitamin C, 3 mg iron, 100 mg calcium, 232 mg phosphorus.

Nutrition information per serving (1 pasty, 300 g): 626 cal, 46 g fat, 10 g protein, 40 g complex carbohydrates, 6 g dietary fiber, 132 mg cholesterol, 661 mg sodium, 607 mg potassium, 16 mg vitamin C, 4 mg iron, 272 mg calcium, 208 mg phosphorus.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 5, May-June 1991 issue.


  • star rating 11/24/2014
  • loves to bake from KAF Community
  • Won fifth place in our town's turnip festival cooking contest. I was a little skeptical about not cooking the filling first, but following the recipe exactly as written, the meat and vegetables all baked perfectly. I was also pleased that the filling did not leak out. I used 1/3 butter and 2/3 Crisco for the shortening and ended up with a nice flaky pasty that was relatively easy to work with. I certainly can't comment about authenticity, but the flavor was nice and I think this would be a good thing to take to a fall picnic or similar event.
  • star rating 08/23/2014
  • nichael from KAF Community
  • I may have figured out the answer to at least part of my question below (i.e. about the problem with the very sticky dough). The recipe calls for 4oz or 1/2 cup of lard, or equivalent butter/shortening. However, i believe 4oz of is 1/4 cup, not 1/2 cup of butter -which is what I used. Am I correct that this should read "1/4 cup" of lard/butter/shortening?
    Hi there. When measuring by weight, 4 ounces of fat (butter, shortening, lard) will equal 1/2 cup by volume, so the recipe is correct as written. Thanks for double checking. ~ MJ
  • star rating 08/04/2014
  • nichael from KAF Community
  • Made them today (a "4-pack") and they tasted great. However I had a couple problems that I wanted to ask your advice about. (To be clear, I followed the recipe to the letter, using half butter and half shortening.) First, the dough was _very_ sticky. I had to add quite a bit more flour to make it knead-able. And even the it still kind of gummy. (Also, the butter in the dough seemed to have "leaked out" during baking.) Second, I had *way* too much filling. After putting together the first pastie, in effort to make more room I rolled the remaining pasties to 8-in circles. I still had nearly half the filling left over when I was done (and, needless to say, the crusts were awfully thin.) But, still, they were worth it and will definitely make them again.

    I'm sorry to hear you had so much trouble with the dough and filling amount. I think there are a few possibilities as to what might be happening, so if you would like to try them again, please give our Baker's Hotline a call at 1-855-371-2253 and we'd be happy to talk through the recipe with you to help your next batch come along without any problems. Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  • star rating 11/16/2013
  • carol from warwick MD
  • my mother is Cornish so we ate pasties on a regular basis great for picnics.. she always uses half lard half margarine and a rutabaga not turnip
  • star rating 01/12/2013
  • java from MI
  • decent pastie recipe but the nutrition information cannot be right, as some numbers are less in the bigger size pastie numbers.
    Thank you for noting the difference. I'm sure we can take another look at this! Best, Kim@KAF

  • star rating 04/24/2012
  • srizilla from KAF Community
  • considering the relatively poor reviews on the recipe, i thought i'd better chime in since i've made it a few times w happy reception. i haven't used the filling--i typically use leftover brisket, sometimes w some potatoes thrown in. i've not had the issues w the tough pasty as one reviewer experienced nor the too crumbly one of the other reviewer. i've only ever tried it w butter, never made it w the lard or shortening. carve the kids initials in it and they love them as do i and others i've made them for.
  • star rating 06/02/2010
  • JJ from Danville
  • I used 100% shortening and found the pastry a tad delicate for a pasty. Otherwise, very tasty dough. The filling I used was leftovers from making stuffed cabbage.
  • star rating 02/12/2010
  • Mrs W from UK
  • I have made this recipe three times now, and i think i am doing something wrong, with regards to the pastry itself, the taste is not bad, but it comes out hard as a brick! Now i tried to brush it with butter just after baking, to soften it up, but that had a little effect. What i am trying to achieve is very soft and slightly crumbly pastry, any ideas? the filling is very good, hence the three stars.
    Sorry your efforts have not yielded the results you expect. We'd love to problem solve that pastry dilemma with you - please call the Baker's Hotline at 802-649-3717 and we can work through it together. Irene @ KAF