How to: Bake a perfect pastry

How to bake a perfect pastry: With their price set to rocket, this is the perfect time to try making your own



21:32 GMT, 1 April 2012

The beloved pasty has found itself at the centre of a political storm over the past fortnight, with the Government announcing that, along with other hot baked goods, it will be subject to 20 per cent VAT.

So with their price set to rocket, this is the perfect time to try baking your own. Here, we reveal how to perfect this simple, but delicious dish…


'True pasty aficionados bake with rough puff pastry, never shortcrust,' says Andy Bates, TV chef and owner of Eat My Pies market stalls. The recipe for four pasties is easy.

Beat the VAT: Make your own delicious pasties

Beat the VAT: Make your own delicious pasties

Sift 260g of strong plain flour into a bowl with a teaspoon of sea salt. Add 225g room-temperature butter, cut into small cubes. Rub the ingredients together with your fingers until the ingredients look like breadcrumbs, but leaving a few chunks of butter.

Make a well, then add 200ml of water and mix well to make a dough. 'To make your pastry flaky, it's vital to chill it in the fridge – an hour will do,' says Andy.


There are strict instructions on what
goes into a Cornish pasty after it was given protected status by the
European Commission last year, putting it on a par with other foods and
drinks such as champagne.

traditional pasty is always filled with beef, onion, swede and potato,'
says Andy. 'But don't be afraid to experiment when making your own
creations. 'The joy of a pasty is that you can fill it with whatever you
want and it can be as simple – or as fancy – as you like.

and cheese is an amazing combination – try Cheddar or Stilton. I even
do one with a confit chicken thigh and a white wine and cream sauce for
special occasions.'


effort into finding good quality ingredients and it will really pay
off,' says Andy. If you're using beef, skirt is the best cut to use,
although for a real treat you can use finely sliced rib-eye steak.

need about 400g of meat for four pasties, then one medium swede, one
medium potato and one medium onion. Though carrot is frowned upon by
purists, it often appears in pasties.

Whatever you're using, all the ingredients need to be finely diced to ensure they cook properly inside the pastry.

Pastry and pie sales were valued at 962 million in the UK in 2010


'On a floured surface divide the pastry into four balls,' says Andy. 'Roll out each piece until you have a rough circle 1/4 in thick. 'You will still see small lumps of butter in the pastry, but don't worry, that's normal.'

Some people brown their meat, but you don't actually need to cook any ingredients beforehand. Layer your ingredients, starting with potato, followed by the rest of the vegetables, then finishing with the meat and cheese on top.

'This enables the meaty, cheesy flavour to seep through into the vegetables,' says Andy. 'And be generous with seasoning. That peppery flavour is what makes a good pasty great.'


The right way to finish a pasty is a contentious issue. Some make the join in the middle, so that the crimped edge runs along the top, but the traditional method is a D-shape with the crimp running along the curved edge.

This thick crust was developed because miners could not wash their dirty hands at lunchtime, so instead they held the pasty by the crust and discarded it afterwards.

'Fold the pastry over and with hands cupping the edge, cut around to give a semi-circle,' says Andy. 'Take a corner of the edge and then fold over and pinch with your fingers. Repeat to form the crimp around the pasty. 'Then brush with egg yolk for a rich glaze and bake on a baking tray in an oven pre-heated to 190c for around 40 minutes.'


The folded shape of a pasty was designed to keep the filling hot for as long as possible – something Chancellor George Osborne is counting on to bring in lots of VAT payments.

'Pasties are best served ten minutes after coming out of the oven, otherwise they will burn your tongue,' says Andy. 'They can be eaten cold or even microwaved, but this means the pastry will lose its bite.' A pasty is meant to be a complete meal, so there's no need to serve it with anything. In fact, pasty aficionados even look down on sauce.

'I once asked for some brown sauce in Cornwall and got a look of horror,' says Andy. 'I was told the traditional way to enjoy a pasty is with a cup of sweet tea, a proper sugary English cuppa – and I can confirm this is truly delicious.'