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Magical Meals - Cornish Pasty

One of my earliest memories is being in the kitchen with my grandmother as she was baking. She grew up on a farm, so what she cooked was very much no nonsense, tasty and filling. A lot of that is reflected in what i tend to cook now days. I love making good things for people to eat, I hate spending all day faffing about in the kitchen over minor details. I want recipes that come together fast, are easy to make but taste fantastic.

This is why I love working man's food as we used to call it. Complete meals, designed to be held in one hand and munched on while you work with the other hand. Or if the other hand is too dirty to eat with. I make Scotch Eggs on a semi regular basis and my husband loves to take them to work with him. Cornish pasties however, I confess I have not made in decades. I had to dig this recipe out from the BBC website and adapt it from memory. Tradition (these have been made since the 1300's) calls for swedes, we always used carrots.

Don't let the thought of making pastry scare you off, this is a very forgiving recipe, perfect for a first time pasty maker. And while you can grab a pack of Short Pastry from the supermarket freezer if all else fails. You will be missing out on a huge chunk of the magic in this recipe. Making the pastry is one of the most magical parts of this recipe.

Remember that these were originally made for the Tin miners of Cornwall to take to work with them and were eaten thousands of feet below ground on a short break in a long day. The women that made these would have likely been thinking of the men they were making them for during the process of kneading the dough. Those thoughts, and the hopes and wishes for their safe return home would have been worked into the dough as an added layer of magical protection.

The magic of the kitchen witch is that the spell is eaten, thus becoming intrinsically part of the person you are working the magic for. This is why there are so many superstitions about not baking while you are ill, or when you are in a bad mood. And this is why mass produced food never tastes as good as home made. It is missing the simple magic of a personal touch.

Suet is the fat from around the kidneys of a cow or a sheep. Usually you can get it from a butcher, you can use lard instead or Crisco.

Bread flour is higher in protein than all purpose flour, so it makes a tougher dough. This recipe definitely requires the higher gluten content that a bread flour gives.



For the pastry

  • 1lb 1oz strong bread flour
  • 4oz vegetable shortening or suet
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1oz butter
  • 6fl oz cold water
  • 1 egg, beaten (for glazing)

For the filling
  • 12oz rump steak or braising steak
  • 12oz waxy potatoes
  • 7oz carrots
  • 6oz onions
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • knob of butter

Tip the flour, shortening, a pinch of salt, the margarine or butter and all of the water into a large bowl.

Use a spoon to gently combine the ingredients. Then mix with your hands, bringing the ingredients together as a fairly dry dough.

Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface (there’s no need to put flour or oil onto the surface because the dough should not be sticky).

Knead the dough to combine the ingredients properly. Use the heel of your hand to stretch the dough. Roll it back up into a ball, then turn it, stretch and roll it up again. Repeat this process for about 5-6 minutes. The dough will start to become smooth as the shortening breaks down. If the dough feels grainy, keep working it until it’s smooth and glossy. Don’t be afraid to be rough – you’ll need to use lots of pressure and work the dough vigorously to get the best results.

When the dough is smooth, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for 30–60 minutes.

While the dough is resting, peel and cut the potato, carrots and onion into cubes about ½in square. Cut the beef into similar sized chunks. Put all four ingredients into a bowl and mix. Season well with salt and some freshly ground black pepper, then put the filling to one side until the dough is ready.

Lightly grease a baking tray with butter and line with parchment paper (not wax).

Preheat the oven to 325F

Once the dough has had time to relax, take it out of the fridge. The margarine or butter will have chilled, giving you a tight dough. Divide into four equal-sized pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a disc roughly the same size as a dinner plate.

Spoon a quarter of the filling onto each disc. Spread the filling on one half of the disc, leaving the other half clear. Put about a teaspoon of butter on top of the filling.

Carefully fold the pastry over, join the edges and push with your fingers to seal. Crimp the edge to make sure the filling is held inside – either by using a fork, or by making small twists along the sealed edge. Traditionally Cornish pasties have around 20 crimps. When you’ve crimped along the edge, fold the end corners underneath.

Put the pasties onto the baking tray and brush the top of each pasty with the beaten egg. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 45 minutes or until the pasties are golden-brown. If your pasties aren't browning, increase the oven temperature by 25F for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

  • Flour - grounding, prosperity
  • Salt - protection, banishing, exorcism
  • Butter - spirituality, communication, reconciliation, enhancing energies
  • Egg - fertility, spirituality, rejuvenation, mysteries
  • Beef - energy, excitement, strength
  • Potatoes - Protection, compassion, potency, wishing
  • Carrots - banish, dispel illusions, fertility, clarity, clear vision, sex
  • Onions - oaths, promises, warding, protection, health, banishing, virility, potency, male fertility, energy, psychic, spiritual

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