The Pasty Guide: What to Look For in a Pasty When Visiting Cornwall
August 10th, 2022
At The Valley, we pride ourselves on offering luxury holidays in Cornwall for all the family. Since 2019, we have accommodated 3000 amazing guests, with 95.3% arriving from outside of Cornwall. Many of our guests have never tried a Cornish pasty before.
From celebrating this Cornish tradition by hosting pasty tasting evenings at our onsite restaurant, Cafe Azura, and recommending pasty shops all over the county to try, we want to ensure guests experience the best Cornwall has to offer, and a traditional Cornish pasty is undoubtedly one of them!
What is a Traditional Cornish Pasty?
A staple of Cornish tradition, the pasty is one of the main reasons why Cornwall is such a famous and historic tourist destination.
A Cornish pasty contains wholesome ingredients of beef, sliced potato, swede, onions and seasoning paired with the pastry being shortcrust, rough puff or puff, glazed with milk or eggs to establish its iconic golden colour.
What Makes The Traditional Cornish Pasty Unique?
Once the pasty has finished baking, the edges are sealed on one side and crimped, making the iconic Cornish pasty shape. Moreover, the pasty is protected by PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status to stop manufacturers outside of Cornwall from copying the regional product, meaning this signature pasty remains a special treat.
Where Does The Cornish Pasty Come From?
The famous Cornish pasty originates from Cornwall and has a long history of being a companion to miners. Wives and mothers of tin miners baked pasties and would deliver them to the mines. The wives would shout ‘Oggy oggy oggy’ and drop the pasties down the mine shaft to warn the miners that their lunch was coming in red hot.
Pasties were made with a thick, crimped edge on one side so that miners could use the crimp as a handle to hold onto while eating. This meant that miners could avoid anything dangerous being passed into the heart of the pasty from their hands.
Why Did We Do This Campaign on Pasties?
According to the Cornish Pasty Association, Cornish pasty producers generate around £300 million worth of trade annually for the region of Cornwall.
We wanted to comprehend what makes a traditional pasty Cornish, so why not ask the local pasty experts who make these tasty icons daily? We want to make sure our guests have the best Cornish experience they can when visiting The Valley, so the obvious starting place is with a humble Cornish pasty!
Bakeries hold rich heritage not only in Cornwall but across the UK as a whole, and the pasty shops on our doorstep are definitely something to shout about. With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to choose which bakery to visit. Follow our guide below of what to look for in a pasty to enjoy an unforgettable Cornish bite.
Contacting Pasty Shops in Cornwall
We contacted 100 of Cornwall’s most loved bakeries and pasty shops to start. We asked them three generalised questions to make sure no top-secret pasty recipes were spilled during our research.
Some of the bakers we contacted are members of the CPA (Cornish pasty association) who are under the PGI designation, this protects the Cornish pasty and traditional recipes from being imitated outside of the Cornish borders and gives the bakers a platform for their voice to be heard when it comes to all things pasties.
The questions asked were:
- What is the preferred pasty or pasty size that sells the most?
- Are there any attributes of your pasties that make them unique? This can be homemade, handmade etc.
- Any non-traditional pasties/flavours that have been on the rise recently?
We crossed the borders into Devon for a more considerable scope of answers. We asked 53 pasty shops/bakeries the same three questions to compare a traditional Devon pasty to a Cornish one.
The Results of The Pasty Survey
The Preferred Pasty Size
The results found that the preferred pasty size for customers is a medium, with 73% of pasty makers stating customers tend to go for a medium traditional pasty the most.
Popular Attributes of The Pasty to Look For
The attribute that pasty experts ranked highest when asked what guests should look out for when choosing their traditional pasty was ensuring the pasty is homemade and handmade. This was closely followed by the pasties being freshly made daily as the second attribute and bakers using local produce taking third place.
Results From The Rise of Non-Traditional Pasties
We found out from 85 pasty shops that vegan and vegetarian options have gained popularity and have boosted sales over the past three years. Some bakeries have also said that they do not sell these vegan options at this time but are looking into adapting their recipes shortly to cater to vegan customers.
9 of the best selling pasty shops now offer various gluten-free options. This means that customers with dietary requirements are now spoiled for choice with gluten free friendly restaurants and pasty shops full of tasty products/dishes to try.
We also asked if any flavours in particular were popular amongst locals and travellers. Here is a list of popular, non-traditional pasties to try when you are in Cornwall:
- Steak and stilton
- Chicken pasties
- Cheese and onion
- Lamb and mint
- Pork and apple
- Spicy pasties
Pasties by Post
Bakers are evolving with the times, with ⅓ of pasty shops selling their pasties online to customers outside the county who are hungry for more. Pasties by post are typically located on the bakeries’ online website or call to place an order.
The Valley’s Recommended Pasty Shops to Visit When Visiting Cornwall
If you’re struggling to think of where to start your pasty journey, look no further! We’ve compiled some of the best shops to visit in Cornwall! See below:
- Chacewater Bakery in Truro – Located in the quaint village of Chacewater, this bakery is Alex’s go to pasty shop.
- Premier Pasties in Saint Columb – As the name indicates, these pasties are premier and made by world champions in pasty crimping!
- Ice & Bites in Perranporth – Discover a unique flavour experience at Ice & Bites as this shop offers fruit pasties!
- Oggie’s Cornish Kitchen in Falmouth – Home of pixie pasties, this shop brings a modern experience to customers with various options available on the menu.
- CornishPod in Torpoint – The bakers at CornishPod are passionate about flavour as they offer bespoke buffets for catering events and even deliver fresh pasties straight to your door!
What To Look For in a Pasty When Visiting Cornwall
To summarise, when buying a Cornish pasty for the first time, it is essential to make sure the pasty you choose is homemade and created with local Cornish ingredients. On inspection, ensure the crimp is visible from one side of this tasty treat to see if it is 100%, Cornish. Remember to buy local, and support the pasty industry and family/traditional businesses.
If you are vegan, vegetarian or gluten free, there are plenty of bakeries available for you to try some fantastic pasties after visiting some of the best family-friendly beaches in Cornwall. Moreover, pasty shops provide a wide range of flavours to sate your palate!
Now you have heard from the professionals, our range of luxury holiday cottages in Cornwall are available to book all year round and are the perfect companion for you to try local homemade traditional pasties from a range of excellent Cornish bakeries! Don’t hesitate to contact us on 01872 862194 or book online for reservations or inquiries. Oggy oggy oggy!
Cornish Pasty Facts and Faux Pas
February 22nd, 2019
Cornwall is renowned for their famous pasty, and they can be found almost everywhere you go within the county. Each year, pasties contribute around £300 million worth of trade for the Cornish economy, making these baked goods one of the most important parts of life in Cornwall. We take a look at some facts and faux pas associated with these traditional treats.
If you are somehow unaware of what a Cornish pasty is, a traditional pasty is a pastry filled with swede, potato and onion, alongside chunks of beef. Each ingredient goes into the pasty uncooked, allowing all of the flavours to cook together and form its own gravy. To be officially considered a Cornish pasty, there must be 12.5 percent meat and 25 percent vegetables, with the rest being shortcrust or puff pastry. Another unbreakable rule is that all pasties dubbed ‘Cornish’ have to be baked in Cornwall.
Common Pasty Faux Pas
As pasty’s are protected by law in terms of their geographical status and exact percentages of meat vs veg that should be found within their delicious pastry cases, it is perhaps not surprising that there are also a number of non-legal, but equally strictly followed, rules regarding their eating in Cornwall. There is culinary etiquette to follow when enjoying a pasty, so to avoid the faux pas, here are a few common complaints:
Pasties Should Be Eaten From a Paper Bag
When you buy a pasty fresh from a bakery, it should be presented to you in a paper bag. Rather than popping the pasty onto a plate and tucking in with a knife and fork, the pasty should be simply eaten directly from the bag, as it was invented to be a meal to enjoy quickly on the go without the need for utensils. Plus, the bag will help to catch any pastry crumbs that are bound to fall off the pasty when you bite into it!
A Pasty Shouldn’t Be Served With Chips or Salad
The pasty was used by miners as a way to enjoy a full meal in one handy pastry parcel. Therefore, putting a pasty on a plate and adding a side of fries kind of defeats the point! Plus, a pasty is typically already packed full of potato and vegetable, so why would you need more on the side?!
Don’t Feed Seagulls
Many visit Cornwall to enjoy the delights of the seaside, but a common problem associated with this area are the pesky seagulls who would love a nibble of pasty! Beware when enjoying a delicious traditional bake by the seaside as a gull may try to swoop in and nab it, and be sure not to feed the seagulls on purpose as this can cause problems!
Discover more facts about the Cornish pasty in our previous blog post! If you’d like a taste of the real deal, fresh from the oven of a Cornish bakery, then a self-catering holiday in Cornwall could be just the thing for you!
18 Things to Do in Cornwall in 2018
May 02nd, 2018
Somehow we’re now in the fifth month of the year, so now may be the perfect time to look back on your 2018 bucket list and think of what you still have left to do! With summer fast approaching, we’re re-sharing our top 18 things to do in Cornwall in 2018, in the hopes that it will inspire you to come and visit us here in the most beautiful coastal county! Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly holiday to Cornwall, short breaks for two, or a luxury trip away with friends, there’s something for everyone:
1. Minack Theatre
A stage like no other, the Minack is an open air theatre nestled into the cliff tops in Porthcurno. With breathtaking views of the surrounding bay, you’ll be in awe as you make your way down the staggered seating steps, carved into the granite cliffs. With performances running from May to September, it’s certainly a must see.
2. Surf Lesson
Cornwall is one of the top surfing destinations in the world, so if you’re heading to the county for your holiday, remember to bring a wetsuit and try and catch some waves. If you don’t know how yet, then it’s time to get a lesson. While there are surf schools all along the coast, by far the greatest surfing spot is on Fistral beach, where all of the top surfing competitions take place in the UK.
3. Walk the Coast Path
Obviously it’s too ambitious to attempt the whole 300 mile stretch at once, but there are plenty of different walks available around the county. Get a map of Cornwall and mark off which paths you’ve walked as you do them. Maybe by the end of the year, your map will be complete!
4. Bude Sea Pool
Want the natural feel of swimming in the sea without as many risks? Try the Sea Pool in Bude. The free to use pool is semi-natural, built in the 1930s underneath the cliffs to form the experience of being in the sea, without having to face the ferocity of the waves.
5. Take Part in a Feast Night at The Hidden Hut
By day a quaint sea-side lunch spot, by night (on selected evenings), a rustic open-air feast extraganza. Buy a ticket and bring your own plate to receive a serving of the best local produce cooked outdoors on their wood-fire, charcoal grill or massive paella pans. Previous offerings have included wood-fired seafood paella, lobster & chips, slow-roasted lamb, and pulled pork with sticky ribs.
6. Experience the Waterfalls at St Nectans Glen
St. Nectan’s Glen is home to three truly spectacular waterfalls. The most famous of these is the magical St. Nectan’s Kieve, where the river has worn it’s way through the slate, creating a fascinating hole which has transformed the river into a magnificent 50 foot waterfall! Walkways through the stunning woodland take you to a further two waterfalls, one of which is a hidden gem, only recently discovered and opened to the public!
7. St. Michael’s Mount
It is one of the most famous landmarks in Cornwall for a reason. From the island you can experience the picturesque panoramic views of the bay, and to Land’s End. While you’re there, explore the spectacular castle and the luscious gardens, as well as the stunning harbour.
8. Bodmin Jail
Discover the history of this 18th Century jail with thrilling tours and activities. If you’re brave, there are after dark activities, like taking part in the night time ghost walks. If that’s not enough spookiness for you, every Thursday a scary movie is screened in the jail, followed by a tour through the historic building accompanied by a Medium.
9. Tate St. Ives
A gallery space featuring work by modern British artists with links to St. Ives. As part of the Tate art institution, the collection here is impressive and exhibitions change regularly, so there’s always something new to see.
10. Barbara Hepworth
Another spot in St. Ives for those interested in art, the Barbara Hepworth museum, set within the sculptor and artists home and gardens, is a stunning sight that absolutely must feature on your Cornwall bucket list. This is perfect for garden lovers too, as you will quickly see where Hepworth gained her inspiration as you stroll through the gardens accompanying her studio.
11. Camel Valley Vineyard
Is there a better way to spend an afternoon in the sun than at an award-winning vineyard that serves up top-quality wines? With guided tours and wine tasting sessions, you’ll learn all about the grape growing and winery processes, with the added bonus of a refreshing glass of red, white or bubbly!
12. Rick Stein Cookery Course
Pick up some top tips and hone your kitchen skills with the very best. With daytime courses running for a wide variety of cuisines, from shellfish to Indian Curry and from Italian to Far Eastern dishes, there’s certainly something for everyone to enjoy! Alternatively, if you just fancy a treat on your holiday, then grab a delicious portion of fish and chips from Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips in Padstow.
13. Eat a Proper Cornish Pasty
Yes, you can get a pasty from pretty much any bakery around the country. But will it be as good as a traditional Cornish bake, fresh out of the oven? No!
14. Visit the Eden Project
Home to the largest indoor rainforest, this will be an educational day out like never before. For an even more intensive experience, or for something new for repeat visitors; head up high and soar over the biomes on the 60mph SkyWire!
15. Visit Land’s End
With stunning views and an incredible coastline, Land’s End is the perfect spot to roam the cliff tops. Take your camera to keep some memories of the picturesque scenery on display. Looking into the sea surrounding you, it’s even possible to catch a glimpse of exciting marine life, such as seals, dolphins and even basking sharks!
16. Catch Your Own Supper
Being a coastal county, with almost every area surrounded by water, it is no surprise that fishing and sea food make up a major part of the Cornish life. Why not join in on a fishing trip at any of Cornwall’s harbours and reel in a bite for dinner?
17. Visit a National Trust Property
The National Trust currently manages and maintains over 40% of the Cornish coastline, but they also tend to a large number of the finest properties in Cornwall. There are so many to choose from, including the stunning Cotehele House and Lanhydrock House.
18. Explore the Cornish Mining Heritage
Cornwall is renowned for its mining heritage, with many sites to visit, explore and learn about throughout the county. From Poldark Mine, featuring a museum and tour to the Levant Mine, near Land’s End, which houses the oldest beam engine in Cornwall; now in full working order having been restored in recent years.
Which of these things would you like to try? Let us know which feature on your 2018 bucket list, or if there any attractions in Cornwall that you are planning to visit that we haven’t included!
Upcoming Events: Cornish Pasty Week
February 19th, 2018
When asked to think of Cornwall, it surely won’t be long until the iconic and beloved Cornish pasty comes to mind. As such a staple of Cornish life, it only seems right that the pasty has been awarded its own celebratory week this year, with the first ever ‘Cornish Pasty Week’ kicking off on Sunday 25th February. Beginning on Sunday, a whole week of pasty related activities will be taking place, ending in the ‘Oggy Oscars’, the World Pasty Championship, held at the Eden Project on the 3rd of March.
The events, hosted by the Cornish Pasty Association, so far include pasty-making sessions, with essential crimping techniques being taught in local community groups and schools, as well as pasty themed pub quizzes and kids craft workshops! In the spirit of the week, many pasty shops around the county will be offering discounts and deals, ensuring you get the most pasties you possibly can out of pasty week!
Culminating in the World Pasty Championship at the end of the week-long pasty festivities, keen bakers are in with a chance of winning the ‘Pasty Pageant’ with their Cornish bakes. Registration for entering the competition is still open until midday on the 1st March, so it is not too late if you wanted to try your hand at competitive pasty making. Don’t worry if your pasty skills aren’t quite perfect though, as there are several categories available to enter.
There are four skill level categories, company (such as bakeries), professional (those working as a professional cook or caterer), amateur (over-16s not working as a professional cook), and junior (those under 15). These skill categories are then each split into two sections, one for those producing Cornish pasties, made following a traditional recipe, and one for pasties made using more unconventional ingredients, or that have been made outside of Cornwall. There is a Protected Geographical Indication on Cornish pasties, meaning that only those baked within Cornwall, using a traditional recipe, can actually be considered Cornish pasties! As such, the winner of last years ‘professional’ Cornish pasty category, who came from Canada, had to travel to Cornwall to bake his entry in order to legally class his pasty as Cornish.
If you want to enter the competition, you must bake two identical pasties; one for the judges to try, and one to be put on display in the Pasty Hall of Fame! The pasties should be baked the day before and must be between one and eight degrees Celsius when they are brought to the Eden Project between 9am and 10am on the 3rd March. The judged pasty will then be reheated at 180 degrees Celsius for the judges to enjoy! To enter the championships and for more information, find the details here on the Eden Project’s website.
Registration costs £10 per adult entrant and £5 for a junior entrant, which includes the admission price for the Eden Project, and a plus one. Visitors to the Eden Project can watch the championships taking place for free with an Eden admission. If you would love to take part in this pasty pageant, or just want to join in with the pasty related festivities, why not book a Cornwall short breaks at one of our luxury cottages?!
Traditional Cornish Pasty Recipe to Warm You this Winter
December 14th, 2017
With snow falling all around and the weather getting colder every day, there is nothing better than a tasty Cornish pasty to warm away the winter chills. The pasty in Cornwall originates from the 17th century, when the miners in the area needed a filling all-in-one meal that would withstand a trip down a mine shaft. Typically a pasty consists of a vegetable and meat filling within a pastry circle, featuring one thicker, crimped crust.
The flour used for the shortcrust pastry should be stronger than normal, as the extra strength in the gluten is needed to produce a pastry that is strong and pliable. Beef skirt is typically used in Cornish pasties as it has no gristle and minimal fat, and also as it cooks in the same amount of time as the vegetables used. For the potatoes, use a firm waxy variety such as a Maris Peer, as floury potatoes tend to disintegrate and go to mash.
Recipe to make six traditional Cornish pasties:
500g strong bread flour
125g Cornish butter
1 tsp salt
175ml cold water
For the filling:
450g quality beef skirt, cut into cubes
450g potato, diced
250g swede, diced
200g onion, sliced
Beaten egg to glaze
Salt and pepper
1- Rub the lard and butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
2- Gradually add a small amount of water to bring the mixture together and knead until the pastry feels elastic.
3- Cover the pastry with cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for around three hours. This will help make the rolling stage easier.
4- Roll the pastry out and cut circles of approximately 20cm diameter. A side plate is a great size to use a guide.
5- Layer all of the vegetables and meat on to the pastry and season.
6- Bring the pastry together and crimp the edges. To do this, gently brush the edge of the pastry with water, then fold one half of the pastry over the filling to the other, and squeeze the edges together firmly. Use your index finger and thumb to twist the edge of the pastry over to form the crimp. Repeat this the entire way along the edge of the pasty. Tuck the corners in underneath.
7- Glaze the pasty using a beaten egg.
8- Bake for 50-55 minutes at 165 degrees C
If you would rather try a genuine Cornish pasty in their home county, why not look for luxury family Christmas holidays in Cornwall and enjoy getting warm with a delicious bite!