As a cook it is all too easy to recreate something to suit your own palate, but with a dish like the Cornish pasty that is sheer simplicity itself why would you bother, sometimes the simplest recipes are the hardest to accomplish because there is not a myriad of flavours to hide behind, every element has to be perfect because each imperfection is very apparent, and why on earth would a tamper with a recipe that dates back as early as the 13th century? I'd have to be mad!
There are three things I love about food, obviously I love the process of cooking, and of course I love to taste food, but one of my most enjoyable aspects of food is the history of it, I love knowing that I am cooking a recipe that has not only been made for hundreds of years, but I love the history of why it was created.
The shape of the infamous pasty has been directly influenced by the people who consumed it, it was a popular snack for miners, the shape and size made it suitable to carry whilst the pastry insulated it's contents and made it durable enough to survive, but the crimped edge would be used as a handle, it meant that a mining worker could hold the pasty and dispose of the edge due to the high levels of arsenic in many of the tin mines.
I know that my crimping technique leaves a lot to be desired but I hope that I have done the integrity of the pasty justice, and that I will not receive a huge back lash from the Cornish pasty aficionados. Sometimes the simple things in life are the best, this is most definitely the case of the Cornish pasty.
(for the pastry)
75g of butter
75g of lard
375g of bread flour (this allows the pastry to be more durable because of the gluten in the flour)
1/4 tsp of sea salt
150ml of ice cold water
Firstly start by rubbing the fats and the flour between your fingers and thumb, mix together in a large bowl, when the mixture resembles coarse sand add the salt and ice cold water, mix until it begins to adhere into a dough, place to one side for later.
For the filling:
400g of skirt beef
150g of peeled and thinly sliced potato
100g of peeled and thinly sliced turnip
75g of peeled and thinly sliced white onion
generous seasoning of salt and pepper SEE NOTE
1 egg for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees c
Split the dough into three separate balls and roll each ball into a round roughly 3mm thick and 20cm in diameter.
On one side of the circle start by place a few slices of onion, potato, generous seasoning of salt and pepper, turnip, then a third of the beef, season again, then onion, potato, seasoning, then turnip, brush egg wash on all around the edges, and on the half of pastry without the filling, fold the pastry circle in half and either crimp by twisting the edge over itself to create a rope effect, or if your are a novice you can use a fork to seal the edges by pressing it down to nip the pastry together.
Place each pasty onto a baking tray line with greaseproof paper. Cut a small line in the top of the pasty to allow the steam to escape and brush liberally with egg wash. Cook on the middle shelf of the oven for an hour. Controversially I like my Cornish pasty served with sauteed cabbage, Sorry but I do!