Nanny Smith's PROPER Cornish Pasty




Introduction: Nanny Smith's PROPER Cornish Pasty

There’s nothing better than delving into Nan’s old recipes, and I’m sure a lot of people have their own way of doing things, but this is Nan’s way for what has got to be, the tastiest pasties (and I’m from the South West UK, so surrounded by them!).

There’s written records of the pasty dating back to the 15th century and some people claim there’s actually much earlier cave paintings of them too, but this is my family go to recipe.

I'll apologise in advance as I didn't take any pics while making the pastry, but I did shoot this video to cover the whole process :)

Oh and I'm entered into the Heirloom contest, so if you like my instructable, I'd really appreciate if you could hit the 'vote' button in the top right :)

Step 1: The Pastry

Many would argue that short crust should be used, but I’m a fan of rough puff pastry. I just think it sits better with a pasty. Make your pastry in advance ready for your pasty venture, or shop buy some if you don’t fancy it, but trust me, it’s worth it and not hard to do, you just need some patience.

  1. 500g plain strong (bread) flour if possible (2 1/5 cups)
  2. A pinch of sea salt (or regular) 500g unsalted butter or baking fat (2 ¼ cups)
  3. 250ml ice-cold water (1 cup & it’s got to be ice cold, so make sure you’ve chilled it right down in the fridge).

Cut the butter into cubes or strips & put them to one side for a while to warm up to room temperature a little (not too warm). In the meantime weigh the flour and drop in a pinch of salt. I like to do this directly on a clean surface, so pour it out onto your work surface.

  1. Make a well and add the butter, and then start bringing the flour in from the outside, into the middle to coat the butter. Keep doing this over and over until you’re sure it’s well coated. I like to use a scraper to bring it all in.
  2. When it’s all coated, you can start squeezing it together a little. Try to handle the butter as little as possible to start as you don’t want it to become too warm.
  3. Make another well and pour most of the water in. Start mixing with your hands as best as possible and continue from the outside in.
  4. Once everything is mostly together, add the rest of the water. You want to see chunks of butter in there, that's what makes it light and puffy.

TIP: A good tip is if the pastry mix sticks too much to your fingers, just rub your hands with some flour and over the pastry, it cleans them right up.

Now you should have what’s starting to look like pastry.

Add some flour to work with and we need to roll a strip, and fold it in on itself, kind of how you’d fold a letter in three (see the pic).

  1. Once you’ve done this, roll a strip the other way and fold it in again.
  2. Don’t worry if you can still see big bits of butter – that’s what you want
  3. At this point, your pastry is probably getting pretty warm so we need to pop it in the fridge and chill it for around 30 mins.

Go and stick the kettle on, you’ve earned it! After 30 minutes are up, grab your pastry and repeat the step above again, folding in 3 once, then into 3 again. Wrap it in some cling film (food wrap) and pop it in the fridge again to rest. I’d suggest about 30-45 minutes or so. In the meantime, you can prepare your fillings.

If you are in any doubt, check the video :)

Step 2: The Filling

  1. 450g (1lb) beef skirt cut into cubes
  2. 450g (1lb) potato, diced
  3. 250g turnip (or swede) cubed (or if it's your 1st time, you may find it easier to shred the turnip and create a cushion bed top/bottom so sharp potato and turnip doesn't pierce the pastry
  4. 250g onion, finely diced
  5. Salt & Pepper to taste
  6. A strip of butter for each pasty Beaten egg for glazing

Try to layer the ingredients from the softest touching the pastry to the hardest in the very middle. Don't forget to add in your butter.

Step 3: Let's Make Pasties!

Firstly fold your pastie in half so it's a D shape. Press down firmly to seal the pastry. The best way is to touch your fingers together and make a half moon, then press down with the side of your hand. It should look like the picture above.

Next, and for me being a left hander, this was the hardest part - the crimp!

How do I explain this? I think it’s best if you watch the video from if this doesn't make complete sense, but here goes. Start at the top of the D (far left point of the pastry where the straight line meets the curve in the pic).

Place your right thumb on the flattened part of the pastry and fold over the corner of the pastry back in on itself towards your thumb. Then move your thumb a thumbs width to the right and fold towards it again (kind of a 45 degree angle towards your thumb. Keep repeating this until you've worked your way around the pasty :)

If you're unsure (and I'm sure you may be) please watch the video as this will give you a much better idea.

Once you've finished 'crimping', that's it. Take your beaten egg and glaze generously.

Place in a pre-heated oven at 200c for 20 mins (392f) and then drop to 160c (320f) for a further 20 or until golden brown.

Step 4: The Result

And here you have it, your proper Cornish pasties.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy.

I'll be entering the Heirloom recipes contents, so if you like it, please vote for me & definitely come and comment if you make it, or have any questions at all :)


Heirloom Recipes Contest

Third Prize in the
Heirloom Recipes Contest



    • Water Contest

      Water Contest
    • Game Life Contest

      Game Life Contest
    • Organic Cooking Challenge

      Organic Cooking Challenge

    17 Discussions

    Mine are in the oven right now! I did not follow your recipe to the letter, but then it is not my first ever pasty. And I just had to share our turnip in the shape of either the pink panther or ET, depending on what way you look at it.

    16 21:56.jpg16 21:56.jpg
    1 reply

    Where is the video? I may just be having issues because I'm reading on my iPhone

    1 reply

    Hi, how odd. Just checked on my android phone and its all working OK. Its the first part of the instructable, I hope you get to see it, but if you can't and you get stuck, let me know and I'll help out :)


    2 years ago

    Puff pastry! You should be cast adrift in a boat. ;-) It's much better with proper pastry and a lot less faff (technical term).

    1 reply

    See, I did say it'd cause controversy :)

    Well I'll be! I guess I didn't know how to make a proper one! I always use cooked meat and veggies for the filling! I do love some pasties! So great to make & freeze! Thank's for setting me straight!

    1 reply

    No worries :) there's a lot of variation, and traditional should have shortcrust pastry, but I find the rough puff pastry nan used to use a lot less dry, and subsequently I believe it's also what's been adopted by the majority of pasty manufacturers. Always raw ingredients though, and with the butter as the juices from the meat, veg and butter merge to make the lovely pasty gravy :)

    Super job... will attempt this over the weekend. By the way, I found your video very relaxing.

    4 replies

    P.s. I've also added a quick video on Pasty crimping which is linked to in the video above:

    Thank you for letting me know. I don't enjoy cooking but will definitely have your video on as my tutorial this weekend :)

    Thanks very much. I'd make the pastry the day before if you can so you're in no rush. The video was very rushed & I'm sorry as not all of the text is super clear, but if you get stuck on anything, give me a shout :)