Yum. Whenever I bite into a pasty, my mind’s eye is immediately transported to St. Ives, Cornwall. I even find myself protectively hunched over my pasty, to keep the ever aggressive St. Ives seagulls away. But alas, I’m still in Madison, WI. Pasties (pronounced past-ees, not paste-ees, you pervert) are delicious, hearty, and only slightly time consuming. I’ll apologize in advance for the terrible photos to follow. It was a late night, overly warm pasty cooking session.
Pasty Filling Ingredients
Go wild! Throw whatever you want in there. Traditional Cornish pasties are filled with chuck steak, onion, potato, and turnip (or swedes, as the Cornish would say). We filled ours with bacon which we cooked prior to filling, potatoes, onions, garlic, spinach, and beaten egg, which we stirred altogether. Whatever you fill your pasty with, the key is to chop it up small enough so that it can cook through.
Pasty Pastry Ingredients
The pastry recipe and cooking times were taken directly from a wonderful cookbook by Catherine Rothwell, called “From Pasties to Pilchards, Recipes and Memories of Cornwall”. I love this cookbook, because it provides some local history about each recipe, and features recipes from towns all over Cornwall. From the reading I’ve done, the pastry recipe she provides seems to be the traditional and agreed upon way, although originally people would have used shortening rather than margarine.
3 1/4 cup bread flour
1 cup (2 sticks) of room temperature margarine
Salt and Pepper to season
1. Mix the bread flour and margarine in a large bowl with a pastry blender, until the mixture looks like tiny breadcrumbs.
2. Add salt and pepper, and mix again.
3. Now comes the slightly tricky part. You need to add enough water that the mixture is moist enough to roll out and wrap around the filling, but not so moist that it can’t hold it’s own shape, or becomes to sticky. I keep a cup of water next to me and add it in slowly. Better to add little by little, then to add to much at once because then you’ve got a problem. I probably added just over a 1/4 cup of water, but do what feels right. Remember, bendy, not sticky.
1. With your dough mixed and your filling cut and prepared, you’re ready to role. Literally. Role about a quarter of the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, until it reaches about the size of a dinner plate. Make it as round as possible, but it doesn’t need to be perfect. You want it thin enough so that it can be folded around the filling, but not so thin that it tears when you try to move it and doesn’t hold it’s shape. Eyeball it my friend. Below is dough in motion. I told you the pictures were bad. We’ll call it artistic. Impressionist.
2. Once rolled, add a hefty blob of your filling to one half of the pasty, leaving about 3/4 inch of dough around the edge of your filled half. Dip your finger in a cup of water, and run it around the 3/4 inch of the dough that you left filling free. This will help to seal the pasty. Now fold the unfilled half of the dough over the filled half, to create a half circle shape.
3. Time to get fancy. You need to crimp the edges of the pasty so that no filling escapes during cooking. Make sure that your edges meet, and that your water seal has worked. Then fold the edges up towards the filling one time. Use your fingers to press down and make a crimped design. The picture below, of someone who has clearly spent too much time in a very hot kitchen, will show you what I mean.
4. Gently lift the pasty onto a greased baking sheet, and brush with beaten egg if you want that lovely golden look. You do. Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes, and then lower to 350° for another 10 minutes.
5. Eat it! This recipe made 4 very large pasties, big enough to share if you’re feeling friendly.
Possibly the most glorious pasty ever produced in the great state if Wisconsin, which is probably a bold and untrue claim. But I was sweaty and proud. Just look at that flaky goodness.