There are a few pasty rules in Cornwall that must be followed. First rule: don’t eat a pasty with chips; second rule: swede in a pasty in Cornwall becomes turnip (this even confuses the Cornish); third rule: a high street pasty from a railway station or the high street IS NOT A PASTY; lastly: the Cornish pasty has protected PGI status which means even more rules.
There are more than four best pasties in Cornwall, but here are mine (and no-one can disagree with the last):
Aunt Avice’s Pasties, St Kew Services, Saint Kew Highway, Bodmin, PL30 3ED
This is one of the best pit and petrol stops you can make in Cornwall. Avice learnt her pastry making skills from her mother-in-law and has kept it a firm secret. Generous, buttery but not flaky, these are the real deal. Get some of the egg and bacon pie if it hasn’t sold out.
Ann’s Pasties, annspasties.co.uk
From mail order and weddings to gift boxes and unusual ingredients, Ann, and now her son Fergus, are fabulous diplomats for the Cornish snack (meal) of choice. With barely a crimp and more of a crispy fold, Ann’s pasties are crammed full of carefully sourced ingredients, including Davidstow cheddar and Cornish grass-fed beef. Get filling in that mail order form now!
Dave Webb developed the pasty recipe at this organic farm with his aunt, taking full advantage of the produce from the chemical-free fields around them. The farm has been certified organic since 1996 and, coupled with the sweet air of the river Helford, these are some of Cornwall’s finest pastry offerings as well as hugely popular exports.
My mum’s: the gravy forms a puddle in the corner as you eat downwards, the pastry is thin and crisp and the meat has to come from the excellent Liddicoats in Lostwithiel. Oh and only white pepper will do. Here’s how to make them at home:
- 1lb plain flour
- 6ozs fat (half lard, half butter)
- Pinch salt
- Cup of cold water
- 1lb beef skirt (chopped to the size of a fingernail)
- 2 medium-sized potatoes (thinly chipped in a bowl of water, in pieces approx the size of a 20p coin)
- 2 finely chopped onions
- Turnip (optional, best finely chipped but grated will do)
- Sea salt and white pepper
Preheat oven to 200°C. Breadcrumb the fat with the flour and a pinch of salt. Add cold water a little at a time, gently stirring with a knife until all the dry bits are picked up. Take the dough in your hands and gently squeeze, rather than knead, together to form a ball. Take a small lump about the size of a clenched fist and roll it out on a floured surface. Once about 2mm thick all over, place a side plate on top and cut round with a knife. Repeat with the rest of the pastry, using the off cuts for the last one.
Strain and thoroughly dry the potato chips. Place approx. 2 finger fulls of meat onto the top third of the pastry disc, sprinkle a little pinch of salt over the meat, then add a scattering of onion, a more hefty scattering of potato and some more onion. Season with salt and pepper this time and add a small knob of butter. Put some milk in a cup, dip your fingers in and run them around the edge of the pastry circle.
Now gently but firmly bring the bottom half of the pastry disc up over the filling and pinch together in 2 or 3 places, joining the edges. Shuffle the pasty slightly to encourage the filling to settle a little. Now pinch firmly all the way along the side of the pasty, so that about a centimetre is pinched all along. Then go back along, crimping as you go (folding the pastry between thumb and forefinger to form a little ‘hem’).
Rub milk lightly on the bulging surface, create a little vent in the top for steam to come out and put in the oven on a lightly-floured tray for approx one hour or until golden brown.