Friday 29 March 2013

"Cornish pasty" pie

Last Saturday Jane went into London for a club meeting, and it therefore fell to me to make dinner (not that I mind in the slightest!). It was a cold, windy day and chucking it down with snow, so I decided that a pie would be appropriate. Pies are good comfort food, ideal for this sort of day.

Now first an admission: I had never made pastry before. Well, certainly not "solo". I think I have only made it once before with Jane watching over my shoulder and providing advice. However, I wanted a pie, and you can't make a pie without pastry... I dug out Jane's little Be-Ro recipe book - a rather dog-eared volume, but with evidence of frequent use - always a good sign. Aha, "Making pastry", page 19. So I followed the instructions very carefully. They worked! I dutifully rubbed the fat into the flour, added the water, formed the dough, chilled it, rolled it, draped it over the rolling-pin and plonked it on top of a pie-dish full of nice stuff (details in a moment). I even remembered to cut some holes in the top to allow steam to escape. So here we are: Exhibit 'A' - one pie ready for baking.

"So, what was in the pie?", I hear you ask. Well, it was what you would put in a Cornish pasty: diced stewing beef, potato, onion and swede turnip. I browned the meat and cooked it in seasoned stock to make a nice rich gravy and then reduced the liquid so that I would have a fairly firm filling for the pie. I also part-cooked the vegetables, since one of the things I dislike about many commercially-produced pasties is that they often contain potato that is still almost raw. I mixed these ingredients together and put them into the pie-dish, and once the mixture was cool I put the pastry on top, crimped it round the edge with a fork and brushed the surface with beaten egg.

At some point along the way I realised that I had more ingredients than would fit in my pie-dish, so I decided to make another, smaller, pie. This was actually a stroke of genius, because not only did it provide me with lunch, but it also gave me the opportunity to test-drive a prototype of my pie. You see, I wasn't certain that my pastry would be any good, and I thought that if it turned out to be horrible I could always tell Jane I had just made a casserole and conveniently omit any mention of pastry...

So here is the mini-pie. Firstly, in its raw state (with rolling-pin in the photo to give an idea of scale):

Then in its finished state. Doesn't that pastry with its glossy golden coating of egg-wash look yummy?

And now an "interior view"...  Unfortunately the top wouldn't come off in one piece. Nevertheless, I was quite happy with the pastry's texture. By the way, I forgot to mention that this was Shortcrust pastry, so crumbly rather than flaky.

I have to say I was satisfied with the result - and not a little relieved too, because I know that making pastry can easily go wrong. So it was with more confidence that I set-to to prepare the rest of our dinner.

This is how the main pie came out - thankfully just a bigger version of the small prototype!

The filling of my pie was moist enough not to need any separate gravy. All the meal needed was a splash of colour and a change of texture, so I served the pie with some lightly-boiled Savoy Cabbage.

Well, it wasn't exactly a Cornish pasty, but it was fairly pasty-esque! Beautifully tender savoury meat, firm (but fully cooked!) vegetables and crisp tasty pastry. I was really happy with this result. There'll be no stopping me now! I might even make a quiche next...


  1. Sounds very tasty. Obviously you mustn't have sweaty hands - enemy of successful pastry making.

  2. I have made pasties once having had them in MI once as a child when we vacationed on the upper peninsula which is Cornish country here in the states (or at least that was my childish impression.) In January I thought I would make them but then chickened out in favor of a pie like yours. It was good though I used ground pork instead of beef. I may just try it again.

  3. I'm often too lazy to actually make a real pie crust (except for sweet pies) so I top my pot pies with cheesy biscuits. Though I suppose that would technically be a pastry too since you've got to do the whole butter thing (I hate shortening and always use butter, slightly tougher pie crusts, but it tastes so much better).

  4. Very impressive pastry it is too. I have to admit to buying mine most of the time which is a tribute to my laziness. Pastry and bread are the things that I would love to make but when it comes down to it I can only be bothered on the odd occasion.

  5. I'm very impressed with that great looking pastry! It looks beautiful and I'm certain it was delicious. Kudos to the cook!

  6. Hey that looks pretty good for a first attempt!

    If you're interested, I'm currently writing a book about the Cornish pasty which is due to be released in a couple of months, and includes my award winning Cornish pasty recipe and a whole load of other traditional and modern recipes, and my pasty pie recipe which was published in The Guardian last month. If you're interested, take a peek at


  7. Your pie looks very tasty and just looking at it has made me very hungry :)

  8. Well that is such a coincidence because yesterday I used the last of my Steak and Ale pie recipe (from St. Patrick's Day) to make similar individual pies x3.
    By the look of your pie Mark, I think you may be a closet pastry chef! It looks fantastic.
    The cold snowy conditions obviously helped making the pastry process. Cold hands and all that! I can now see you making lots of pastry recipies ;D
    The cornish pasty is one of my favourite pies :D

    Happy Easter to you, Jane and your family :D

  9. Looks delicious! Especially that little one! It's a nice shot.


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