Cornish Pasty – Gluten-Free

Ollie

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A Cornish pasty is a distinctive form of a filled pastry pie. A pasty is simply a filling of choice, usually savoury, sealed within a circle of pastry, and with the one edge crimped into a thick crust. It is associated with Cornwall, a county located on England's southwestern tip, and the pasty is part of the county’s culinary heritage; it has a long history.

The word pasty comes from the Medieval French word for Paste or Pasta, and was a pie containing any number of different ingredients, and significantly, without using a dish to bake it in. The 13th Century has documentary evidence of pasties being eaten by the upper classes and the pasties had varied, and often rich, fillings and gravies. Whilst for the working classes, pasties consisted of only a few cheap cuts of meat wrapped in pastry.

In Cornwall, originally the pasty would have been filled with the vegetables which were then abundant in the county. Cheap meat was only added later in the 17th century. The pasty was adopted by both tin miners and farm workers as a means for providing an easy, sustaining meal during the working day: it was self-contained, portable, insulated, and supplied lots of nutrition and carbohydrates. Perfect for miners, both men and boys, engaged in hard, sustained, physical activity. The pastry could keep the filling warm for between 8 - 10 hours. Towards the end of the 18th century, the Cornish pasty was established as a staple diet of working men across Cornwall.

The traditional recipe calls for the pasty filling to be beef, potato, onion and swede, which when cooked together also form a rich ‘gravy’, and all sealed within the pastry crust. Although, any kind of filling will do, as long as it is uncooked before baking. Also, there is some debate as to whether the crimping, or sealing of the crust, was traditionally made on the side or on the top of the pasty; both versions are produced in Cornwall today. Both versions are considered here.

The Gluten pasty pastry calls for the use of a strong, high protein flour, so for the Gluten-free version given here, the addition of egg is made to help the Gluten-free pastry flour mix reach an overall higher protein level in the pasty recipe (a rich short crust pastry).

Ingredients (pastry): (Enough for two family sized pasties)
Gluten-free pastry flour mix* 370g
Gum Arabic 2tsp
Salt 1/4tsp
Butter 160g (softened, room temp, cut into thin slices)
Apple Cider Vinegar 1 1/2tsp (7ml)
Egg (slightly beaten) 100g (approx. 2 large – if necessary, add from another egg to make up weight)
Water (cold) 45ml to 60ml

Ingredients (filling):
Skirt, or Chuck Beef 300g (yielding approx. 250g)
Onion (chopped and diced) 70g
Swede (or, yellow parsnip, sliced) 40g (or Rutabaga, sliced)
Potato (thinly sliced) 110g
Salt 1/4tsp
Pepper pinch
Thyme pinch

Eggwash 1 egg yolk (lightly beaten in 1Tbsp of Hemp milk)

*The Gluten-Free pastry flour mix is: Brown Rice Flour 390g, Sweet Rice Flour 150g, Potato Starch 35g, Tapioca Starch 115g, Arrowroot powder 70g. A total weight of 760g

Method:
Sift flour, add Gum Arabic and mix thoroughly in a bowl
In a mixer bowl cream butter and salt, at a medium speed for ½ – 1min
Scrape down sides and bottom of mixer bowl and combine at low speed for ½ - 1min
Add 50g flour, and combine at low speed
Add Apple cider vinegar; gradually add slightly beaten eggs, and then 50g flour, beating at a low speed until the mixture comes together
Gradually add rest of the flour, occasionally stopping the machine to scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl, restart and mix until the dough comes together, add 3Tbsp cold water, then, one at a time, add 1-3tsp of cold water, with each addition, slice, or break open, the dough ball and add another teaspoon of liquid, and then incorporate with your hands, pressing the dough together. The finished dough will look shiny when handled and pressed together, it will be very malleable. You want it to be right on the edge of it being sticky. It is preferable to be over the edge of sticky rather than under; to be slightly sticky. If it does become too sticky, use your hands to roll it on a floured surface and massage the dough to incorporate the flour until it just ‘unsticks’. This dough needs to be wetter than you would normally expect pastry dough to be.
Lay a piece of cling film/plastic wrap on a pastry board, place the dough on top of it, press into a ½in (13mm) thick rectangle and cover with cling film/plastic wrap.
Chill pastry dough in a refrigerator for 20mins minimum, or even overnight.

Prepare Filling
The pasty should be firm and full. With this Gluten-free dough, and with this particular dough which is quite soft, if the pasty is filled too full, the dough will bulge in lots of places, caused by individual pieces of meat, and may split as the dough is pulled over the filling.
Set out two small bowls, one for each of the two pasties.
Trim skin, gristle, and any fat from the beef cuts to leave lean meat. With a sharp knife, cut the lean meat into rectangular strips, approximately 12mm x 8mm x 8mm (1/2in x 3/8in x 3/8in), halve the cut pieces of beef between the two bowls. The trimmings can be kept for making beef stock.
Thinly slice the swede and cut into smaller pieces, halve the cut pieces between the two bowls.
Dice part of an onion, to get to the required weight, and distribute between the two bowls.
Add seasoning to each bowl.
Cover the bowls with clingfilm whilst you roll out the dough.

Rolling
Bring the pastry dough back up to room temperature.
Wrap a pastry board with parchment paper, dust evenly and lightly with flour, along with dusting the rolling pin.
Cut the dough in half (place the other half back in the refrigerator); dust hands with flour; then roll the pastry three times in one direction, evenly, gently and briskly (ie, confidently); rotate the pastry a ¼ turn (ensuring that the pastry is not stuck to the board, lift with a spatula and re-flour if necessary); and repeat; and repeat until the dough is 5mm thick (for this application it needs to be thicker than normal pie dough). This dough is very easy to roll, the edges tend not to split, and handle.
The scraps can be rolled up and re-rolled - the pastry is very forgiving.
Roll the dough out to accommodate a 25 - 28cm (10 - 11in) diameter circle, such as the size of a dinner plate. Place an upturned dinner plate on top of the dough and, using the point of a paring knife, cut around the circumference of the dinner plate. Transfer the parchment paper containing the dough onto a baking tray for assembling the pasty.
Repeat with other half of the pastry dough.

Assembly and Baking:
For the side crimped version, place a layer of sliced potato to the left of centreline (if you are righthanded) and centrally in that half of the dough, leaving a border of approximately 4cm – 5cm (1½ - 2in) on the outside edge. Place the rest of the filling, seasoned diced beef, cut sliced swede, and diced onions, on top of the sliced potatoes.
With a pastry brush, wet the outer, clear border with water.
Using the right edge of the parchment paper slowly lift up the dough, supporting the top surface with your other hand, and draw the dough over the filling to meet the other side edge, to make a half circle. Gently press the two edges together, and then crimp the edge with either, your fingers and thumb, or with the prongs of a fork. Traditionally the edge was first sealed and then turned back over on itself before being crimped.
With a skewer, pierce three holes in the top centre of the dough pasty for the steam to vent out of as it is baking.
Finally, eggwash the whole of the visible surface.

For the top crimped version, place a layer of sliced potato in the centre of the dough disc, leaving a border of 4cm (1½in) around the circumference. Place the rest of the filling evenly on top of the sliced potatoes. With a pastry brush, wet the outer, clear border with water. Place both hands underneath the parchment paper and gently ease the dough up and around the filling to meet at the top of the filling. Gently press the edges together. Crimp, or scallop this top edge with your fingers and thumb, going right over the top of the pasty. Turn up each end of the join and fold inwards and upwards to fully seal the filling within the pasty.
With a skewer, pierce three holes in the top centre of the dough pasty for the steam to vent out of as it is baking.
Finally, eggwash the whole of the visible surface.

Preheat oven at 200C for 45mins
Place baking sheet in a refrigerator for 30mins before baking (for the pastry to harden)
Remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator; place it in the middle of the oven and bake for 15mins, reduce heat to 180C and bake for 30mins (check at a further 15mins to see if the crust is browning too quickly, if it is, cover with a parchment paper ‘hat’ and continue baking).
Remove pie tray from the oven and cool for 20 – 30mins, so as use your hands to handle the Cornish pasty (although it will still be warm, especially the filling, for considerably longer).

The Cornish pasty will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, or, tightly wrapped in clingfilm for up to 2 months in a freezer.

Eat hot, warm, or cold, and enjoy.

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After these photos were taken, the filling ingredients were increased to those given in the recipe above.
 
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