A pasty is a filled pastry case, commonly
associated with Cornwall in England. 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.
Left: A Cornish
Pasty cut in half. The filling is beef steak, potato, turnip and onion.
The traditional Cornish pasty is
filled with beef, sliced potato, swede (also known as a Swedish turnip) and
onion, and baked. Pasties with many different fillings are made; some shops
specialise in selling all sorts of pasties.
The origins of the pasty are largely unknown, although it is
generally accepted that the modern form of the pasty originated in Cornwall.
Tradition claims that the pasty was originally made as lunch ('croust' or 'crib'
in the Cornish language) for Cornish tin miners who were unable to return to the
surface to eat. The story goes that, covered in dirt from head to foot
(including some arsenic often found with tin), they could hold the pasty by the
folded crust and eat the rest without touching it, discarding the dirty pastry.
The pastry they threw away was supposed to appease the knockers, capricious
spirits in the mines who might otherwise lead miners into danger.
Pasties are still very popular throughout Cornwall, Devon,
Wales, North East England, other parts of the United Kingdom, Ireland and
Brittany. They are also popular in the northern United States.
Pasties are often eaten on the move like other fast foods.
While there are no completely standard pasty ingredients, the
traditional recipe includes diced or sliced steak, finely sliced onion, and
potato. Other common ingredients include swede and sometimes parsley. The use of any carrot in a Cornish
pasty is frowned upon by purists, and is rarely found in commercially made
pasties in Cornwall. Traditionally skirt steak is used, although sometimes other
cuts can be found. Pasties made with ground beef or beef mince are also common
and are often sold alongside steak pasties as a cheaper alternative. While meat
is a common ingredient in modern pasty recipes, it was a luxury for many 19th
century Cornish miners, so traditional pasties usually include many more
vegetables than meat.
Pasty ingredients are usually seasoned with salt and pepper, depending on
Today pasty contents vary, especially outside Cornwall. Common fillings include
beef steak and stilton, chicken and ham, cheese and vegetable and even turkey
and stuffing. Other speciality pasties include breakfast and vegetarian pasties.
Pasty crust recipes also vary, but traditional recipes call for a tough (not
flaky) crust, which could withstand being held and bumped in the Cornish tin
mines. Modern pasties almost always use a short (or pastry) crust.
Pork and apple pasties are readily available in shops throughout Cornwall, with
the ingredients including an apple flavoured sauce, mixed together throughout
the pasty, as well as sweet pasties with ingredients such as apple and fig or
chocolate and banana, which are common in some areas of Cornwall.
|Making a pasty: a circle of
pastry is cut out, using a dinner plate as a pattern
||The home-made pasty is usually crimped
along the top
||The cooked pasty, ready for eating
Pasties were traditionally eaten as a complete meal (accounting for the
large size of the traditional pasty) with the vegetable and meat juices acting
as a form of gravy. Nowadays, pasties are sometimes served with chips and/or
gravy or ketchup as a dressing.
The original Cornish pasty
- 225g lean
skirt of beef, very
- 1 large
potato, finely diced
- 1 large
Onion, finely diced
- 1 turnip or
Swede, finely diced
- 225 g
- 1 Egg, beaten
Recipe Cooking and Preparation
1. Preheat the
oven to 180C/gas 4
2. In a large bowl, mix the meat with
the potatoes, onions and turnip or swede and
season well with salt and pepper.
3. Divide the dough in two and roll
each into a circle about 0.5cm thick on a
lightly floured surface.
4. Divide the filling equally between
the two rounds, leaving a 0.5cm space at the
5. Dampen the edges and draw up to
meet on top of the filling. Crimp the edges
firmly together and make a small slit in the
top to allow the steam to escape.
6. Place on a baking tray, brush with
beaten egg and bake in the middle of the
oven for 45-60 minutes.
Food Serving Suggestion
Eat hot or cold.