My Quornish Vegetarian Cornish Pasties are simple to make and every bit as tasty as their meat-based cousins.
Growing up as a vegetarian in 1980s/90s Yorkshire meant that my options for a quick bite on-the-go were limited to either an egg and cress sandwich or a cheese and onion pasty. Pasties were square blocks of puff pastry – the fillings indistinguishable by sight alone from all the chicken and beef varieties on the bakery counter. This resulted in an unfortunate incident with a steak bake one lunch time – something which later traumatised my hypochondriac 15-year-old self during the days of rampant BSE media frenzy!
In my post-vegetarian days, I still gravitate towards Quorn and other vegetarian meat substitutes. I like the taste and texture and find that it is very easy to cook with. Plus, beef remains one of the meats that I just cannot get on board with, so vegetarian mince substitutes will always be found in my freezer.
Like Champagne, Wensleydale Cheese and Newcastle Brown Ale, the Cornish Pasty has Protected Geographic Status under EU law. This means that for a pastry to be marketed and sold as a Cornish Pasty, it must adhere to some strict criteria:
- The pasty must be encased in a robust pastry case, crimped on the side (never on top!) and formed into a D shape
- It must contain a minimum of 12.5% meat (diced or minced beef) and 25% vegetables (potato and swede/turnip)
- The filling must be uncooked when it goes into the oven
- The pie must be made within Cornwall, west of the River Tamar
The Cornish Pasty Association polices the reputation of this hallowed pastry so in developing my recipe, I read their guidance closely. While my Gateshead-based kitchen could never be classed as Cornish and my vegetarian mince substitute flies in the face of convention, I see no reason to throw all tradition out of the window…
My pastry follows their instructions to the letter – forming a tough, robust dough more akin to a bread or the hot water crust normally found in pork pies. This strong dough helped to make the pies so popular among 18thCentury Cornish tin mining families who would use the thickly crimped seam as a handle to keep the rest of the pie clean from their arsenic-coated fingers.
My filling is minimally adapted from the meat version of this dish with the notable exception of the vegetarian mince. Quorn mince is delightfully lean – something to be applauded in most recipes. However, with this pasty, I want a bit of fat to help hold the filling together after baking. It is for that reason that I add a little vegetable suet to the mix to help bind the Quorn mince and everything together. I’ve played about with this recipe a little and rest assured that the amounts here do not make the pasties greasy and heavy.
The quantities here make 6 generously filled Quornish Pasties – perfect for lunchboxes, summer picnics and long car journeys.Print
For the pastry:
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 120g Vegetable Shortening (I use Trex)
- 125g Unsalted Butter
- 1tsp salt flakes
- 175ml cold water
For the pasty filling:
- 350g Quorn mince
- 25g Vegetable Suet
- 300g potato
- 250g turnip/swede
- 150g white onion
- 2tsp salt flakes
- 0.5tsp ground white pepper
- 2 eggs (1 whole egg and 1 yolk)
- Begin by making the pastry dough at least 3 hours before you want to make the pasties as the dough needs some time to rest in order to make it easy to handle. I tend to make the dough on an evening and leave it sealed in an old ice cream tub in the fridge over night.
- Measure the flour and salt into a bowl before rubbing the butter and vegetable shortening in to form light, crumbly breadcrumbs. Add the cold water and mix to combine before kneading vigorously to form a soft, pliable playdough like texture. I find it easier to use my stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook for this stage. When you are happy with the texture, seal the dough inside a plastic tub and place in the fridge to rest for a minimum of 3 hours (or overnight).
- To make the filling, finely dice the white onion. Peel and cube the potatoes and turnip/swede to form 2cm diced cubes and mix all the veg together. Tip in the Quorn mince and sprinkle over the vegetable suet, salt and white pepper. Toss everything together to mix well.
- When ready to assemble the pasties, preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3 and line two baking sheets with a piece of greaseproof paper.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut into six equally sized portions. Roll out on a clean worksurface, using a little dusted flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Use the base of a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin (or a similarly sized lunch plate) as a guide to cut circles of pastry about 1/2cm deep. Pile 1/6th of the pie filling on one half of the circular dough before folding the dough and pressing the dough edges together with you thumb. Pinch the sealed seam together and fold the edge back over itself towards the pie, pushing the seam down as you fold it backwards. The Cornish Pasty Association has a guide detailing how to achieve an authentic finish to your crimped edge.
- Place three pasties onto each prepared baking sheet, leaving a small gap between each pasty. Whisk 1 whole egg with 1 additional egg yolk before thinning a little with a splash of water. Brush this egg wash all over the pasties – being sure to get into every crevice. When you have brushed each pasty all over, go back over and give a second egg wash. This will ensure a golden glaze to the pasties.
- Bake the pasties in the oven for 50-60minutes. The pasties will be beautifully golden and have no soggy bottom when they are done. Remove the pasties from the oven and allow them to cool slightly on a rack before tucking in. The pasties will keep in a sealed tub in the fridge for several days after making.
- Category: Pie, pasty, Cornish pasty, vegetarian
- Cuisine: British
Keywords: Cornish pasty, Pie, Vegetarian, Quorn