Top-Crimped Pasty Recipe

I decided I’d stretch out a bit for the top-crimped version, and do a steak & leek treatment on the concept. It’s still within the boundaries of traditional, assuming that word has much meaning. For as you know well by now, pasties were a make-do food. Anything and everything can — and did — go into them. In fact the old, old, old joke in Cornwall is that the Devil himself has always been afraid to cross the River Tamar (the historic border between Devon and Cornwall) for fear some Cornish housewife would catch him and bake him into a pasty.

Still, I’m taking a semi-stab at authenticity here. This pasty calls for the “rump steak” I mentioned in my earlier post on fillings. Here I should mention that there is no “rump steak” available in modern supermarkets. The closest you can find outside of a standard “rump roast” is bottom round. It’s not an expensive cut, though it does cost more than stew meat, which is a perfectly acceptable alternative.

This dough is a drier version of the formula I put up for the side-crimped pasty dough. The reason for the reduction in moisture is that this crust literally has to stand up by itself. It’s still nice and workable, however, so don’t fear. The result is that it’s a bit flakier and a bit more tender than it’s side-crimpable cousin — which I like. In fact that’s the reason I prefer the top-crimped pasty over the side-crimped. But that’s just me. For the dough:

12 ounces all-purpose (AP) flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 ounces lard (or shortening if you prefer), cold and in pieces
3 ounces butter, cold and in pieces
4 ounces cool water

Preheat your oven to 400. Whisk together flour and salt. Add the fat and work it in with your fingers until you get than corn meal consistency everyone always talks about. Add your water and work it in gently by hand until a dough is formed. Leave to sit at room temperature while you prepare your filling ingredients. You’ll need:

12 ounces bottom round or stew meant, cubed small
2 leeks, white ends only, trimmed, split and sliced
1 medium yellow turnip (rutabaga), cubed small
1 russet potato, sliced thin
salt an pepper to taste

Egg wash:

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

Begin by cutting the dough into four roughly 5 ounce pieces. Roll each into a ball. To make pasties, select a ball and roll it out to a roughly 10″ circle. Lay in the ingredients like you would for the side-crimped pasty, making an oblong heap down the center of each dough circle. Remember to salt and pepper each layer of ingredients as you lay them in. Start with the sliced potatoes, then the turnips, beef and finally the leeks.

Moisten the outer edge of the dough with water, slip your hands under the sides of the circle and bring them together in a “prayer” position, thus enclosing the ingredients. Squeeze the moistened edges together to form a ridge down the center of the pie, and crimp. Poke a few steam holes in the top of the pasty with a fork, and paint the pie with egg wash. Bake at 400 for twenty minutes, then lower heat to 350 and bake and additional 20-30 minutes until golden.

Makes four meal-sized pasties.

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