Thursday, 21 August 2014

Cornish Classics Veganised: The Cornish Pasty

I live in a county that is famed for its culinary delights: pasties, saffron buns, heavy cake, Cornish fairings, cream teas, splits and much more. When I went vegan I wasn't worried about giving up these delicious foods, as I would simply veganise the recipes! 
This is going to be the first in a series of Cornish recipe posts, and what better way to start off than with the thing that Cornwall is perhaps most famous for - the Cornish pasty. Pasties were a staple food for Cornish working men back in the day; the size and shape made them ideal for carrying to work, and the pastry would help keep the filling warm. Pasties were perfect for miners as they could hold them by the crimped edges whilst eating to prevent transferring arsenic on their fingers to the pasty. The crimping was then discarded and left for elfin creatures called 'knockers' in the hope that they would protect the miners from harm (don't discard your crimp though, it is the best bit!). Pasties were a complete meal and often consisted of half savoury and half sweet filling. After the collapse of the tin mine industry, miners emigrated from Cornwall and now variations of the pasty can be found all over the world, although a true Cornish pasty can only be made in Cornwall!
The following recipe is the one that my mum and I use, and it is really a rough guide more than anything. We usually make 2 large pasties and 2 small pasties out of the pastry (or sometimes 4 medium), but you can adjust the quantities accordingly. Similarly, you can add more or less potato and turnip to suit your tastes. Once you have mastered the basic recipe you can play around with additional ingredients and flavours such as creamy mushroom and sweetcorn, vegan cheese, vegetable curry and even sweet pasties such as peanut butter and chocolate or apple and blackberry.
Pastry (enough for 4 pasties):
  1lb strong white bread flour
  4oz vegetable shortening such as Cookeen or Trex
  4oz vegan margarine
Filling (for one pasty):
  2-3 decent sized potatoes, diced
  4oz swede, diced (confusingly we call this turnip in Cornwall, but swede is what you actually want to use)
  2oz onion, diced
  salt and pepper
1. Place the flour in a large bowl and add a large pinch of salt. Rub the shortening and margarine in with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Add enough cold water to the mixture to form a dough. Knead the dough a little then chill in the fridge for at least an hour (you can make the pastry the day before if needed, just wrap in clingfilm and store in the fridge).
3. Generously flour your work surface, then roll out some of the pastry to form a circle the size of your desired pasty (make sure your pastry is not too thin or it will split when cooking). Cut around a plate to form a neater circle (use a dinner plate for a large pasty and a side plate for a smaller pasty).
4. Place a layer of turnip, onion and potato across the middle of the circle. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Repeat the layers, seasoning as you go but do not season the top layer as the salt can make the pastry taste slightly bitter. Place a knob of margarine on top of the vegetables. Don't overfill your pasty as it may split.
5. Dampen one side of the pastry with a little water. Fold the damp side over to the other and press firmly together so that you are left with a semi-circle shape.
6. Crimp the edges of the pasty to seal. It's probably easier if you watch a video rather than me try to explain, so click here to learn how to do it (and hear a proper Cornish accent!).
7. Make a small slit in the centre of the pasty and patch up any holes with a little dampened pastry. Brush the pasty with soya or rice milk and place on a lightly greased baking tray. Bake at 180°C for about 50-60 minutes until the pastry is golden and the potatoes are soft.
8. Take the pasties out of the oven and leave to cool slightly before eating. If you want to take your pasties on a picnic or a journey and keep them hot, wrap them up in greaseproof paper and a clean tea towel straight from the oven.
Pasties can also be enjoyed cold the next day (or reheated if you wish), making them a perfect lunch or snack to take to work or on a day out. Simply leave to cool completely then wrap in tinfoil and store in the fridge. Pasties are also great to keep in the freezer for when you can't be bothered to cook.
Creamy mushroom pasty
Let me know if you have a go at making your own pasties!

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1 comment:

  1. Oh yum yum yum!
    I made sweet vegan pumpkin pasties lady Halloween. I think I'll give these a go and add a mince substitute to make it meaty.


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