This is the original portable meal, eaten by Cornish tin miners and farm labourers. The pastry had to be robust to make it portable, and it was quite common to have a savoury filling at one end, sweet at the other. It now has protected status and must be made in Cornwall. The vegetables need to be cut thinly so they almost melt into the meat on cooking, and the crimping is all-important. I was told you need 21 crimps to make a proper pasty.
Makes 5 Bake 50 minutes
450g plain flour
½ tsp salt
115g cold lard, diced
75g cold unsalted butter, diced
About 90ml ice-cold water
1 egg, lightly beaten, to glaze
1 large onion
1 large floury potato, such as King Edward or Maris Piper
400g beef skirt
salt and pepper
a 24cm plate (to use as a guide)
1.To make the pastry, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, add the lard and butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in enough water to make a fairly firm dough, then knead briefly until smooth. Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.
2. For the filling, slice the onion finely; cut the swede and potato into small, thin strips; keep each separate. Cut the beef into small, thin pieces and divide into 5 portions.
3. Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Divide the pastry into 5 equal pieces. Roll each out on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm thickness and cut out a 24cm circle, using a plate as a guide.
4. Scatter a scant layer of swede on a pastry semi-circle, leaving a 1cm border. Add a similar layer of potato, season lightly and top with some onion. Repeat the swede and potato layers seasoning as you go. Check the pasty will close, then add the beef. Add a final layer of onion, season and dot with butter.
5. Brush the pastry border with a little beaten egg, then close the lid of the pasty, making sure that the edges meet. Press together firmly and then crimp the edges together by pinching all the way round between your thumb and forefinger.
6. Fill and seal the remaining circles of pastry in the same way. Place the pasties on 2 baking trays and cut 2 small slits in the middle of each one. Brush the pastry with beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the oven setting to 160°C/Gas 3 and bake for 30 minutes longer. Best eaten hot from the oven.
Taken from Paul Hollywood’s British Baking, published by Bloomsbury
Photograph © Peter Cassidy