Steven's Devon Pasty Recipe
Steve Jones
Steve Jones • Sep 30

Steven's Devon Pasty Recipe

by Steven Jones


When I was growing up in Plymouth way back in the ’70s and 80’s (that’s 1980’s not 1880’s for those who are unsure, or just plain mean), we generally had the same evening meals every week. The highlight of the week was Thursday, when my grandparents would come for dinner and bring freshly baked pasties, wrapped in tea towels and paper to keep them warm.

I will contend that nothing beats an excellent homemade pasty to erase the unpleasantness of the average school day, and my Nan’s pasties were fantastic.  The only exception to this routine happened on the second Wednesday in October every year. This was because the whole family went to the Tavistock Goose Fair. Obviously, the pasty is the ideal food to hold and wolf down whilst walking through the market stalls and fairground rides.  

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I recently posted photos of pasties I made for my birthday on our app, and the Bright team requested the recipe. I will say now that this is a recipe for a Devonshire Pasty because, as everyone knows, Devon is where they were invented. The Cornish are just better at marketing. It is also not quite my Nan’s recipe, but it is very close and still delicious. One word of warning: do not put chopped carrot in a pasty, or else the Pixies will get you.

Ingredients

Shortcrust Pastry

  • 125g chilled and diced butter

  • 125g chilled and diced lard

  • 500g plain flour, plus extra

  • Pinch of salt

  • Iced water

  • 1 egg, beaten

For the Filling

  • 350g/12oz beef skirt, chuck steak, or braising steak finely chopped

  • 175g/6oz or 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 350g/12oz potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced

  • 200g/7oz swede/rutabaga, peeled, thinly sliced

  • Butter

  • Salt

  • Ground white pepper

Method

Pastry

Chill the lard and butter in a freezer until very cold, then quickly cut into small (1.5cm) cubes.

Tip the flour into a food processor, add the lard, butter, and a pinch of salt, and mix until a fine breadcrumb texture is achieved.  Add 6 Tbsp of iced water and mix again to make a firm dough. If it is too dry, add a little more water.

Alternatively, use a spoon to combine the ingredients and then work together with your fingers to make a relatively dry dough

Turn the dough onto a work surface (you shouldn’t need to flour the surface as the pastry is very tight). Knead the dough to combine the ingredients properly. Use the heel of your hand to stretch the dough. Roll it back up into a ball, then turn it, stretch, and roll it up again. Repeat this process for about 5-6 minutes. To ensure it is smooth and glossy, you will need to be quite rough with the dough.

When the dough is smooth, wrap it in cling film and chill for at least 60 min. 

Filling

Peel and slice the swede cutting into small thin slices. I use a small knife and cut pieces as if I was peeling the vegetable, creating odd-shaped small thin slices. Put the swede in a bowl and cover it with water.

Peel the potatoes and slice the same way as the swede, place in a bowl, and cover with water.

Finely chop the onions and place them in a bowl covered with water.

Cut the beef into 1 cm square chunks and put it to one side.

Assembling the Pasty

Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/425°F/ Gas Mark 7. Take the rested dough from the fridge and divide the dough into four equal-sized pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and roll each ball into a disc approximately 25cm/10in wide (about the same size as a dinner plate).

Spoon one-quarter of the potato slices onto the centre third of each dough disc, making a canoe-shaped layer. Leave about 2.5cm of dough at the pointy ends of the potato layer and 1/3 of the pastry disc free of filling on either side of the potato to wrap over the filling at the end. Season the potato with a little salt and white pepper (a little white pepper goes a long way, and you will season each layer, so be sparing). Top the potato with the sliced swede and season, add one-quarter of the beef, season again, and then finish with one-quarter of the onions. Top with a small knob of butter.

Use the beaten egg to moisten 2.5cm of pastry around the outside of the disc.  Bring the two edges of the pastry to the top of the pasty filling. Press the two edges together to seal the parcel, then crimp where the two edges joined  to make a nice tight seal. Make a small cut in the pastry on one side of the seal to allow steam to escape. Repeat with the remaining pasties and transfer to a baking tray. Brush with more beaten egg to glaze, place the tray on a rack in the middle of the oven, and bake for 10 mins. Turn the heat down to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F/ Gas Mark 4, and bake for a further 45 min. Serve warm.

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Steve Jones
Steve Jones

Steve is a recovering public health scientist and academic. He is a Terry Pratchett fanatic (which explains a lot when you know him). He loves Dr. Who and can now watch almost every episode from the sofa not behind it. He has the great good fortune to be the COO of Bright and work with this amazing team. He has travelled a lot often to places with dangerous diseases. He thinks this was fun.

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