Project 52: Rationing - Week 10 - Cornish Pasties

In honor of yesterday being "Pi" Day, I thought I'd try out a pie for my rationing recipe this week!

I decided on a savory and simple Cornish Pasty out of one of my British rationing cookbooks. I remember the first time I had a Cornish pasty. It was on my way to class when I was doing a study abroad in London back in 2005. We had to walk about a mile from our hostel to our Theater 101 class east of Paddington Station and there was a pasty shop not too far from the theater building. The pasty was delicious with flaky crust and a savory filling. It really is pure comfort food!

Another reason I made meat pasties is because I already made a blueberry pie with crumble topping for Pi Day and I need something non-sweet! There are loads of interesting sweet pie ration recipes, so it's a shame really! I'll just have to try them at a later date.

This week's recipe come from a cool little book which is called Eating For Victory: Healthy Home Front Cooking on War Rations which is a compilation of "reproductions of official second world war instruction leaflets" put out by the British government. Its companion book is Make Do And Mend which is another book of British WWII reproduction leaflets. I highly recommend getting either or both of these books as they are a wonderful addition to your history bookshelf!

Ingredients are simple:
minced raw beef, minced onions, fresh chopped parsley, grated raw potatoes, salt and pepper, and pastry dough of course!
 **Note: I had a bit of a dilemma for the proportions on this recipe. This was going to be for our dinner, and it didn't seem like it would be enough and my husband eats a lot. So to be safe I doubled the ingredients which is what you see in the picture above. If you follow the recipe you won't have nearly as much of the ingredients as in the picture.

Step one - Make and roll out the pastry dough. I made the pastry dough using half National Flour and half all-purpose flour. I imagine it could be made using 100% National Flour and work out just fine. And as I was also under time pressure (This was going to be our Pi Day dinner and it was already 5 o'clock!), I cheated and used my food processor to make the crust. I forgot how fast it is making pie crust in a food processor! It's nice...

I inherited the lovely marble slab from a friend and it is perfect for rolling out pie crust! (Thank you, Lori!)

After rolling out my dough, I used a saucer as a template to cut out pastry rounds. I sat them in a tin pie dish with a sprinkling of flour inbetween each one so they wouldn't stick together. I made a double crust recipe (top and bottom) and ended up with 6 pastry rounds.

 Step two - mix up the filling. Doesn't it look lovely and fresh? Using fresh parsley is essential. I usually use dried herbs because they're easy to keep around, but for this recipe, you really need that fresh herb's oils.

Cornish Pasty filling
I was a little concerned that the filling would be bland. The recipe does call for salt and pepper, but that's it! I pushed ahead with faith in this tried and true recipe that has been made for generations of Brits...

Pastry round with filling. Looking good!

Step three - moisten the edges of the pastry with a little water, fold over, and press to seal.

Step four - Pinch the edge into scallops, or however you're used to doing it.

Step five - Pierce the sides of the pasties and brush with milk or egg. I brushed mine with whole milk.

Pricked pasties brushed with milk

Step six - Bake in a hot oven (I set mine to 400ºF) for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and you can hear the filling bubbling. Keep a close watch so they don't over-brown.

Looking delicious!


Yum! The green parsley stays green and fresh inside which adds just the right amount of color.
I needn't have worried about the pasty tasting bland. It was absolutely perfect! I didn't take into account the meat, potatoes, onions, and parsley cooking in their juices together, blending flavors. The potato acts as a bit of a thickener so any extra juices inside make a teeny bit of gravy, though not much. The flaky crust combined with the lightly salted and peppered filling was awesome. Good ol' Cornish Pasties! How I love you still and I love you even more now that I can make you myself! :-)

The pasties were also very sturdy and would be perfect packing for a lunch or taking on the go. That's how they were designed to be! It's good to see that such a traditional food stayed around through the hardships of the war in England. It's hard to go wrong with a good pasty!

For making these yourself, here's one tip: I used leftover hashbrowns I had in the freezer for my grated raw potatoes. Those were something that the British definitely did not have during the war, but for modernizing the recipe thawed hashbrown potatoes sure make things go faster! I imagine grated carrots would make a nice addition to the filling as well. You could also go all fancy and add chopped mushrooms or leeks...

One final note is that upon looking back over the recipe I realized that it contains this instruction in Step 3: Moisten the edges of the pastry and press them together on top of the filling, making an upstanding edge. I think these were supposed to be baked standing up! I'm trying to think back on when I bought that pasty in London and I can't remember if it was a stand-up kind of pastry. I guess it makes sense to bake them standing up. It adds to their ease of holding or packing for lunches. Oh well! They taste the same either way.

"Making Cornish Pasties"
from Eating For Victory: Healthy Home Front Cooking on War Rations
Cornish Pasties

Short pastry using 8 oz. flour
8 oz. raw minced beef
4 oz. cooked mashed or raw, grated or diced potato
1 onion chopped finely
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

1 - Roll the pastry and cut in large rounds using a saucer or small plate as a guide.
2 - Mix the filling and place some in the centre [sic] of each round.
3 - Moisten the edges of the pastry and press them together on top of the filling, making an upstanding edge.
4 - Pinch the edge into scallops
5 - Prick the sides of the pasties and brush with egg or milk.
6 - Bake in a hot oven (400ºF) for 30 to 40 minutes.

Here's the pastry recipe I used from my Betty Crocker cookbook:

Two-Crust Pie
2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup whole wheat & 1 cup all-purpose which adds a nice texture)
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening (I used butter)
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

Mix the flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until particles are size of small peas. (The size is really important! I've been lazy about it before and my crust does not turn out as well.)

Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl. (1 to 2 tsp. more water can be added if necessary.) Gather pastry into a ball and knead a few strokes to bring it all together. Use for pasties at this point.

If using a food processor: Measure and set aside 4 tablespoons of water, or 5 Tbsp. if using whole wheat flour. Put the flour, salt, and shortening or butter in the food processor and process, using quick on-and-off motions, until mixture is crumbly. With the food processor running, pour water all at once through feed tube just until dough leaves side of bowl (dough should not form a ball.) Remove and knead a few strokes to bring it all together. Continue with making pasties. This recipe makes for a really nice, smooth dough.



  1. Cornish pasties! YUM! I must try this recipe! Yours look gorgeous! :)

    1. Thanks, Mairi! I hope you do try them. They were so good!

  2. I love those books! I own them both, and I recommend them to everyone!


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