A true Cornish pastie would only have beef chunks, swede (rutabaga), potatoes and onion seasoned with salt and pepper and a sliver of butter. I’ve swapped the beef for lamb fillet, kept the traditional vegetables and added fresh mint. I thought this would be a nice alternative during Easter time and to make the most of some great lamb cuts as we enter Spring in the northern hemisphere. It’s similar to eating a pastry-filled Irish stew!
How did Cornish pasties evolve?
Tracing the Cornish pasties to the eighteenth century, they grew more popular amongst the working men across Cornwall, U.K, specifically tin miners. As the main ingredients were cheap and plentiful, the pastie made an ideal lunch on-the-go, plus the pastry crusts were perfect for holding each pastie with dirty hands, leaving the end crusts to be thrown away.
Nowadays, Cornish pasties are loved worldwide and actually protected. In 2011, the Cornish pastie achieved PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status so that any pasties made commercially that are named “Cornish pastie” must be made in Cornwall; contain only beef, swede, potato and onion; baked (not fried) and have the edges of the pastie sealed by using the “crimping” method.
What is crimping?
As I mentioned in my gluten-free lamb and egg pastie, this is the method used to seal the pastry edge and ensure the filling doesn’t leak out. The best way to describe crimping is by twisting and pressing the pastry edges along the longest side of the pastie. It takes some practice and can be a bit tricky to perfect when dealing with gluten-free pastry as it can tear or rip easily. If it proves to be too hard to crimp, they can be sealed pressed down with a fork.
How do you eat pasties?
Besides being a perfect snack or meal, these robust pasties are sturdy travellers to take on road trips, train journeys, picnics and school excursions or simply to have a packed-lunch. In fact, if you happen to travel by train across England, you will smell Cornish pasties wafting through the major train stations from pastie stands and coffee shops. There are usually plenty of different fillings to choose from, but unfortunately, not many sell gluten-free pasties. Now that you know how simple they are to make, give it a go and take them on your next train ride wherever you are travelling in the world. Something to look forward to once travel resumes after this pandemic ends.
GLUTEN-FREE TRADITIONAL LAMB & MINT PASTIES
For the pastie pastry:
- 600g store-bought or homemade gluten-free flour blend
- 2 teaspoons xanthan gum or 4 teaspoons psyllium husk powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 100g butter, chilled, cubed
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 280ml – 320ml iced water
- an extra egg for the egg wash
For the lamb & mint filling:
- 350g lamb fillet, sliced thinly into bite-size pieces
- 200g swede (rutabaga), peeled and diced in 1.5cm pieces
- 200g potatoes, peeled and diced in 1.5cm pieces
- 2 medium onions, chopped in 1.5cm pieces
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, shredded
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder (eg: hot English mustard)
- 1 teaspoon mace powder or nutmeg powder
- 2 teaspoons black or white pepper
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons cornflour or rice flour
- 50g butter, cubed & chilled
Mint sauce, to serve
1. Prepare the pastie pastry first by mixing the flour, salt and xanthan gum together in a medium bowl.
2. Add the chilled cubed butter and rub it into the flour mixture using your fingertips.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix it into the crumbled flour mixture using a wooden spoon.
4. Add the chilled water gradually, mixing well between each addition. Once the pastry starts to come together as a ball, cover the bowl with a tea towel and set it aside for 30 minutes to rest.
5. Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F.
6. While the pastry is resting, start to prepare the filling by mixing the lamb fillet pieces, swede, potatoes, onions, mint, parsley and the rest of the ingredients listed.
7. Start rolling out 8 equal-sized pastry portions into circles measuring approximately 14cm in diameter and place several spoonfuls of the lamb mixture on to the centre of the pastry disc.
8. Brush the pastry edges with some water and bring one side of the pastry circle over to the other side, pressing down along the edges.
9. To finish off the pastry edges, start by folding the corner into the pastry edge. Then continue folding and pressing until you reach the opposite corner.
10. Place the pasties on a lined tray with baking paper and brush each pastie thoroughly with egg wash.
11. Bake the pasties for 10 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 180 C/350 F and continue to cook for another 20 minutes, or until the pastry appears golden brown.
12. Serve them warm or cold with mint sauce on the side and a fresh garden salad.
Makes 8 pasties
If you would like to try a different filling that can be sliced easily and served cold, take a look at my gluten-free lamb & egg pasties.
Any uncooked leftover filling can be frozen for future pastie making. Cooked pasties can be frozen. Thaw completely, before heating in a 180 C/350 F oven covered in foil for 15 minutes.