Cornish Pasties – The Recipe

For the pastry
400g plain flour
200g lard or vegetable fat, chilled and cubed
Milk or beaten egg, to glaze

For the filling
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
150g swede, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
450g chuck steak, cut into 1cm cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
Freshly ground white pepper

Place flour and salt in a bowl, rub in the fat, until the mixture is so fine that it falls through the fingers. Tip mixture onto a lightly floured table top. With your index finger make a well in the centre of the mixture. Add water a little at a time until it forms a pliable but stiff dough. knead gently to bring together then wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

Divide the pastry into 4 equal pieces and roll each one out on a lightly floured work surface using short sharp strokes, always rolling in one direction. Give the pastry a quarter-turn, then roll it again to form a round of about 20cm in diameter and about ¼ inch thick. Cut into a circle using a plate as a guide.

Cut all the solid ingredients up into small pieces. The onion should be finely cut. They are not only easier to eat this way, but cook quicker too. Remember to get rid of any gristle or fat etc from the meat.

Mix the now chopped up potatoes, meat, water, onion and salt and pepper thoroughly (otherwise you may find that all the pepper seems to be concentrated into one spot!)

With the pastry laid out, use the ingredients to fill half of it in a bit of a pile – as it cooks it will flatten a bit, make sure though, that you leave about an inch clear pastry from the edge.

Dampen the exposed edge with water.

Carefully lift the empty half of the pastry over the top of the mixture. In effect, you are folding it in half.

Crimp the edges of a Cornish pasty.
  • Press the edges of the pastry together to seal them as before.
  • Now carefully turn the pasty so that the sealed edge is now along the top.
  • Start at the left edge of the pasty, take hold between the left finger and thumb and turn it so it points along the line of the sealed edge.
  • Now move your left finger and thumb over the bit you just turned. Place your right finger and thumb on the edge immediately adjacent to it and do what I would describe as a lift-turnover toward you.
  • Repeat until you reach the end of the pasty. At this point turn the end inwards like you did previously.
With that all done, make a knife slit in the top to allow air to escape whilst cooking – this helps to keep the pasty crisp and stops it being too soggy.

Brush the whole thing with beaten egg/milk if you want a glaze, but you don't have to.

Place the pasty on a baking tray and cook in a hot oven (about 450F) until the pastry is pale brown at which point reduce the temperature to around 350-370F for about 40 minutes. It is important to get it right as crunchy and chewy ingredients just doesn't make for a good pasty!

Enjoy it and make sure you fly the flag for a genuine Cornish pasty!

Of course you could freeze the uncooked pasties on a tray and place in an airtight container in the freezer until required. Thaw completely and cook as above

Chocolate Christmas Cake

The challenge was from Sweet and Simple bakes this month, for a chocolate Christmas cake.

So shopping on Friday night at Asda, for most of the ingredients I didn't have such as icing, marzipan etc... as I had stacks of mincemeat to use and most of it was very alcoholic having spent the last 9 months soaking up the best part of a bottle of brandy.

The recipe was simple in itself, see at the end of this post, and the hardest part was weighing out the ingredients. No complicated beating of eggs/sugar etc... though I did beat the butter and sugar together then added the eggs before I put in the dry ingredients. I did change the chocolate drops for grated chocolate, but that is because I forgot them on the shopping list.

My oven was a little low at 160oC, so after an hour and 15 mins I turned it up to 180oC and 45 mins later it was done perfectly. Taking it out of the oven, it smelt wonderfully chocolately and fruity.

Left to cool overnight, and Sunday afternoon was spent decorating it.. more improvisation as I hadn't been able to get hold of some glitter or chocolate shapes, so these are aero bubbles, chocolate stars, and icing shapes coloured with cocoa.

Preparation time: 20 minutes + cooling
Cooking time: 1¾ -2 hours

150g (5oz) soft butter
150g (5oz) light muscovado sugar or soft brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
185g (6½oz) self-raising flour
40g (1½oz) cocoa powder
400g jar of luxury mincemeat
80g (3oz) each of sultanas and raisins
50g (2oz) blanched almonds, chopped
100g packet of white chocolate chips

For decoration (decorate as you wish!)

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/electric 160ºC/fan oven 140ºC. Line a 20cm (8inch) cake tin (see below for instructions).

Lining the cake tin: One of the keys to success when baking a fruit cake is the preparation of the tin before you start mixing the ingredients. Because of the length of cooking time, you need to use two sheets of greaseproof paper or baking parchment inside the tin.

Lightly butter the inside of the tin.Cut out a strip of paper about 2.5cm (1inch) longer than the outside of the tin and 5 cm (2inches) wider. (Measure using a piece of string).Fold in about 2 cm (¾ inch) along the long edge of the strip. Then make diagonal cuts along the folded edge at 2.5 cm (1inch) intervals.Fit the long strip of paper inside the tin with the folded edge sitting flat on the base. If you have a square tin fit the paper tightly into the corners. Place the tin on two sheets of greaseproof paper of baking parchment and draw around the base of the tin. Cut two pieces of paper to fit snugly into the base of the tin. Before baking, tie some thick brown paper or newspaper, which comes above the tin by about 10cm (4inches), around the edge of the tin.

Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat together for a minute or two until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 1¾-2 hours until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. You will probably need to cover the cake with foil towards the end of cooking to prevent the top from browning too much. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Because we hadn't had anything like this before, SOH and I cut the cake and had a slice for our tea .. SOH rated the cake 8.5 which was very good. It was moist and fruity with chocolatey overtones and perfect for christmas so I will be making another one to give to the family.