Did you know that we have been eating Cornish pasties since the thirteenth Century? That’s over 800 years!
It wasn’t until the sixteenth and seventeenth century that the Pasty was adopted by tin miners and farmers in Cornwall as a way of providing them with an easy to eat, tasty and sustaining meal while they worked. This was when it became known as the Cornish pasty.
It was the women of the Cornish tin miners who prepared these all-in-one meals to sustain their men folk during their gruelling work down in the deep, dark, damp mines. The men worked deep down in the mines and there was no time to come up for lunch so the needed something that could easily be eaten in the mines – this is why Cornish Pasties have a thick pastry which is sealed on one edge crimped into a thick crust. This is explained how this is done in the recipe supplement. The crust helped the miners to hold the pasty with dirty hands without contaminating their meal. Arsenic is common in tin mines and so to avoid arsenic poisoning the miners would hold the pasty using the thick crust edge.
The tin miners traditional Cornish pasty had two sections; one containing meat, potato, onion and swede and the other half containing typically apple with cinnamon and sugar. The two sections were divided by pastry – so the miners literally ate the savoury part first followed by the sweet.
The women used the left-over pastry to put the initials of their men folk on the pasty; these were always put on the sweet side of the pasty. Often the miners kept the sweet half of the pasty for later
on the same day and the initials meant that they knew which pasty belonged to each of them.
Three other facts about Cornish Pasties that will interest you:
1) they were cooked in the morning and the miners took them to the mines whilst they were still hot so that when they ate them they were still warm and helped to keep the miners warm too;
2) the ingredients are cooked from raw inside the pasty so the meat and veg side makes delicious gravy and the sweet side makes a lovely syrup;
3) The Cornish pasty is famous around the world, especially in mining areas – and many Cornish tin miners migrated to other countries once the tin mines in Cornwall began to close and they took the Tin Miners Cornish Pasty recipe with them.
Recipe for tin miner’s Cornish pasty with Afters (cooking time 60 minutes):
Ingredients (Makes 1 pasty) –
1 Jus-Rol shortcrust pastry block per pasty (1 block per pasty)
For the savoury filling – Prep, Peel and Cut to size in this order:
1 Potato per pasty: Use a Wilja or Charlotte waxy Potato, cut into ¼ inch (5 mm) cubes
Approximately 1 swede, cut into ¼ inch (5 mm) cubes
Good quality diced beef, cut into ½ inch square (1cm) cubes (1 packet will make 6 pasties)
Sprinkle of Flour.
Onions, cut into ¼ inch (5 mm) cubes (1 onion will make 6 pasties)
Salt & Pepper to season.
A Knob of butter per pasty
For the afters filling –
1 slice (1cm thick) cooking apple, peeled and cored
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Sprinkle of brown sugar
1 egg beaten, to glaze the pasties
1. Lightly dust the work surface and rolling pin with flour, then roll out the dough into a ½ cm thick circular shape, 27cm in diameter. Lay a dinner plate over the dough and cut round the plate (save the scraps). Make the divider with the scraps: Make a small oblong of pastry, wet one edge and press down in the top semi-circle of pastry to make a hinge to divide the savoury and sweet fillings (the sweet filling should take up about a third of the pasty).
2. At the top left hand side of the pastry, layer the raw filling in this order: Potatoes, swede, beef (sprinkle some flour over the beef – this helps make the gravy), onions, adding salt and pepper between each layer to season. Add a knob of butter (this keeps the pastry moist), then fold the divider up and over the end of the meat/vegetable filling.
3. Afters: To the right hand side of the divider, lay the cored slices of raw cooking apple to fit, then add the cinnamon, brown sugar and the sultanas.
4. Wet the edges of the pastry circle, lift the pastry dough over the filling and bring the two edges together to make a semi-circle, then squeeze them (do not stretch the dough as it will shrink later). Turn the pastry round so the rounded edge is facing you, then fold in the first corner, crimp the edges, then fold in the other corner.
5. Put your initials on the sweet side using the scrap pastry, and in the meat and veg end, insert a small hole to let the steam out.
6. Line greased parchment paper on a baking tray, then lay the pasties on this. Glaze the pasties with a beaten egg (this will help the pastry go golden brown).
7. Pre-heat a fan assisted oven and bake at 170c for 60 minutes or until golden brown (everything must cook equally). Take out the pasties to cool down a little.
8. Serve the pasties warm.
NB) Many thanks to Archway Project for providing this.