What is a Cornish Pasty?

Written by: Eliot Prince

A Cornish pasty is all the goodness of a hot delicious meal wrapped in the shape of a pocket of golden perfection. This traditional oven-baked savoury pastry with its rich and flavorful filling has been delighting taste buds for centuries, having first appeared in Cornwall as far back as 13th century England. It is a traditional type of British pie and they’re pretty much an entire meal all wrapped up into one small bundle. 

Single cornish pasty split open

The recipe traditionally consists of seasoned diced beef, swede, potato, and onion stuffed into a flaky puff pastry,  then sealed into a half-moon shape and baked. They’re both hearty and delicious. So if you ever find yourself fixin’ for a tasty treat that can double up as lunch or dinner any day of the week then you’d better get your hands on a delectable Cornish pasty!

While it can be filled with various ingredients, cornish pasties are most often associated with its original minced beef recipe – making them one of the UK’s most popular savoury snacks. It’s generally accepted that cornish miners popularised cornish pasties in the 19th century. During this time miners needed convenient meals to take down into the mines for their long days of labour. 

Back in the day, members of each family had their own personalized pasty marked with their own initials! It is then best practice for eaters to start at the opposite end from which your initial is marked – after all you wouldn’t want anyone getting away with consuming ‘your’ corner piece. But it wasn’t just about savoury fillings; some even included sweet fruit, jam or treacle as an added course. In fact, according to a 1905 dictionary definition, they called this unique and flavorful combination ‘a meat and potato or fruit turnover’- what better way to treat yourself back then? While we can be grateful that fish heads no longer poke out one side anymore, there’s still so much flavour left on offer today when tucking into a modern-day pasty.

Nowadays you can find Cornish pasties all over the UK either in shops or freshly made in bakeries – often paired with a cup of tea for a delicious snack on the go! In Cornwall, you’ll find a local bakery in virtually every town and village serving baked goods fresh out of the oven all day long.

Half eaten cornish pasty

How to Make a Cornish Pasty

Making your own Cornish Pasty is no small task, and it may take a few attempts to perfect.

Cornish pasty pastry ready to bake

Here’s a starting point for making your first pasties:

Make your pastry using: 

  • 500g strong bread flour 
  • 120g lard 
  • 120g butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 175ml cold water 

Mix the ingredients and need until it becomes elastic. Then place in a bowl, cover with a tea towl and leave it for 3 hours. 

After the pastry proves for 3 hours, roll out your pastry dough and cutting it into circles with a biscuit cutter. Next add the filling – potatoes, onions, steak or whatever else you like – before sealing the edges by crimping them to form that classic pasty shape. Finally, pop them in the oven at 180 ℃ for 45 minutes until golden brown and hey presto – delicious Cornish Pasties ready to serve!

For a more in-depth look check out this tutorial: