Cornish Recipes
Savoury Sweet Miscellaneous

Cornish Pasty

I dearly luv a pasty,
a 'ot 'n' leaky wun
Weth taties, mayt 'n' turmit
Purs'ly 'n' honyun

Un crus be made with su't
'N' shaped like 'alf a moon,
Weth crinkly h'edges, freshly baked
E'z always gone too soon!


This is copied (more or less) from the tea-towel hung on the back of my office door.

1lb (450g) shortcrust pastry 12oz (350g) chuck or stewing steak (diced)
4 medium potatoes 2oz (50g) butter
1 onion - peeled 1 egg - beaten (for glazing)
4oz (100g) swede Salt and pepper to taste

Roll out the pastry to ¼" (5mm) thick and cut into four 6"(15cm) circles (or larger if you want a man-sized pasty - my mum used to cut round a dinner plate or a dessert plate depending on which member of the family it was for).  Cut the potato directly on to the pastry by cutting small flakes or dicing first, the choice is yours.  Next cover this with the swede (if you are American - rutabaga) then add some of the onion, diced and the meat (don't be stingy with the meat).  Add a dot of butter and season well. Dampen the edges of the pastry and fold in half to form a semi-circle.  Pinch and turn the edge over to make a rope like effect as shown in the picture above. Some people jab a knife into the top to make a 'steam-hole'. Brush on the beaten egg and place on a greased baking sheet.  Bake, in a hot oven (425°F-Gas mark 7, for 10 minutes then lower the temperature setting to 350°F-Gas mark 4 for 30 minutes.

Eat, hot or cold, preferably by placing into a paper bag and eating from one end, turning the bag back as you go. Obviously, if you want to be posh you can put it on a plate and eat it with a knife and fork.

Tradition is that the pasty shape represents the quarter moon with blunted horns.  This is the emblem of Astarte, Goddess of the Phoenicians who came to Cornwall to trade tin.  Later, since they contain a full meal they became very popular with miners and farm workers.

(Cowl bysk)

1 lb (454gm) ripe tomatoes
2rashers bacon
1 oz (28gm) flour
¾ pint (420 ml) milk
1½ oz (43gm) butter
1½ pints (850 ml) white stock
or water
6-8 oz (170-220 gm) flaked crab
or lobster
1 onion (diced)
1 clove garlic - crushed
¼ pint (140 ml) cream
Cut up bacon, onion and tomatoes into small pieces. Cook gently with garlic and seasoning in a little butter. Add the stock or water and simmer for 35 mins. Make a thin white sauce using 1 oz butter, flour, milk and seasoning. When cooked, blend carefully with the tomato soup (which must be strained). Both must be hot but not boiling. Add the crab or lobster and cream. Serve with croutons.

Cornish Pig's Head Pudding

½ pig's head
3 eggs - beaten
2 hard-boiled eggs - chopped
8oz (220gm) stale breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon mixed spices
Coarse black pepper
Sage and Bay leaves
2 cloves garlic - crushed
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Completely submerge the head in strong brine for 14 days then remove any floating scum and boil for 3 hours. When cool remove all meat from the skull mixing it with the breadcrumbs and spices and finally pass it through a coarse mincing machine. Now add the beaten eggs and mix into a semi-solid paste which is to be rolled out into a square, and the chopped hard-boiled eggs placed in its centre. The sides are now rolled up and the whole placed in a floured pudding cloth and boiled for 3 hours. Alternatively, the pudding can be encased in water-pastry and steamed for the same length of time.

Cornish Under-Roast

1½lbs (900gm) chuck beef
6oz (170gm) ox kidneys
2 large onions
1oz (28gm) plain flour
1pint (570ml) beef stock
Salt and pepper to taste
10 medium potatoes
1½ oz (43gm) beef dripping
Chop the beef and kidneys up into ½in (12mm) cubes. Peel and slice the onions then place meat and onions in bag with flour and seasoning and now toss. Melt the dripping in frying pan and when hot tip out the contents of the bag and cook to seal in the juices. Now add the stock and allow to simmer slowly. Pour the contents into a baking tin and add the potatoes which have been halved so that their ends stand up through the gravy. Bake at 350 degrees F (170 degrees C) for about 2 hours until the top of the potatoes brown. Serve with carrots and beans.

Cornish Salt Pork with Pease Pudding

4 lb (1814gm) fresh pork
2 large onions - sliced
1 turnip - cubed
2 carrots - sliced
Head of celery - chopped
2 leeks - chopped
1 teaspoon mustard powder
Sprig of thyme
Chopped parsley
Remove all the fat from the pork and cut into cubes of about ¾ inch (20mm) square then soak in brine for 12 to 24 hours. Remove and thoroughly wash several times before shaking with mustard. This not only keeps the meat moist but also acts as a tenderiser. The meat with all the other ingredients should be placed in a large saucepan and just covered with water. Slowly bring to the boil and then simmer for 2 hours. Fresh vegetables can be added ¾ hour before the meat is ready or they can be cooked separately, however the traditional accompaniment for Salt Pork is Pease Pudding.

Pease Pudding

1 lb (454gm) green and yellow split peas
1 large onion - sliced
1 rasher of bacon - chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
The peas should be soaked in water overnight then drained. Place in a saucepan and add the onion, bacon and seasoning with sufficient water to reach ½in (12mm) above the peas. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer for 2 to 2½ hours stirring occasionally. Just before serving add the butter and finally the sauce. Pease Pudding should have a puree consistency and if too sloppy raise the heat quickly to reduce the moisture.

Crab Pie
(This recipe was supplied to me especially for inclusion here by Mr. John Curnow)

2 large crabs ( preferably freshly caught) ¼ tsp nutmeg
2 or 3 artichoke bottoms (use tinned ones these days) ½ tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons claret ¼ tsp ground ginger
3 hard boiled eggs chopped 2 oz butter
24 white grapes cut in half and deseeded (or use seedless) juice of 1 orange
½ lb asparagus boiled until tender (or use tinned asparagus tips) 3/4 lb puff pastry
¼ lb Cornish clotted cream 1 egg yolk beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dress the crabs (or get your fishmonger to do it) keeping the brown meat and claw meat separate.  Mix the brown meat with the nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and claret and set aside.  Butter a pie dish and put in the artichoke bottoms.  On the artichoke bottoms put the chopped eggs then the spiced brown crab meat.  On top of this put the grapes and asparagus tips.  Add salt and pepper and the orange juice.  Now spread the Cornish cream on and into this press all the crab claw meat.  Roll out the pastry and cover the pie dish with it pressing the edges down to seal ( the pie dish must be of a size which is just filled to the top with the ingredients).  Brush the pastry with the egg yolk and bake at 450F, 230C Gas 8 for 25 minutes and serve immediately with a cold crisp white wine, preferably from a Cornish vineyard.

Herb Pasty

This is a traditional Cornish recipe. The meat and potato varieties of Cornish pasties are the most well-known, but traditionally all sorts of fillings were put in pasties, including vegetable ones.

Shortcrust pastry   Shallots or leeks
Parsley    Butter
Watercress   Beaten egg

Chop and scald a quantity of well-washed parsley, watercress and spinach. Cut up finely either some shallots or leeks.

Make the pastry and roll it out until it is about a quarter of an inch thick. Cut it into rounds, using a saucer or a small plate as a template.

Use the herb mixture for filling, placing an appropriate amount of filling on one half of each circle of pastry. Put a knob of butter on top. Dampen the edges of the pastry with water, then fold over the other half of the circle, to form a pasty shape. Press the edges together with the fingers and crimping to seal, except at one point. Pour a little beaten egg in at this point, then seal that bit too.

Make 2 or 3 ventilating slits in the top of the pasty, brush with milk or egg if you want a glaze, and bake in a hot oven 450F until the pastry is pale brown, then reduce the heat to medium (350F) for about 40 minutes.

Licky Pasty

Another traditional Cornish recipe.  "Licky" is another word for "leek".

Shortcrust pastry   Butter
Leeks   Salt and pepper

Prepare the leeks by removing the dark green heads, and slicing the remainder, then washing thoroughly in cold water to remove any grit.

Make the pastry and roll it out until it is about a quarter of an inch thick. Cut it into rounds, using a saucer or a small plate as a template.

Use the leeks for filling, placing an appropriate amount of filling on one half of each circle of pastry. Put a knob of butter on top and season with salt and pepper. Dampen the edges of the pastry with water, then fold over the other half of the circle, to form a pasty shape. Press the edges together with the fingers and crimp to seal.

Make 2 or 3 ventilating slits in the top of the pasty, brush with milk or egg if you want a glaze, and bake in a hot oven 450F until the pastry is pale brown, then reduce the heat to medium (350F) for about 40 minutes.

Star Gazy Pie
(Pastes hern lagesek)

8 herring or mackerel   1 tablespoon butter
Flaky or short crust pastry   2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
3 eggs   Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon tarragon   8 sprigs parsley
or 2 oz (50gm) cream    

Clean and bone the fish, leaving the heads on, and season with salt and pepper. Butter a pie dish, sprinkle with a thick layer of breadcrumbs and put in the fish so that the heads point upwards. Beat the eggs with the tarragon or cream and pour into the pie dish. Cover the dish with pastry, making slits for the fish heads to gaze out of the top. Put into a very hot oven then reduce, after 10 minutes, to moderate and bake until the crust is golden brown. Serve hot with a sprig of parsley in the mouth of each fish.

Potato Cakes

(This is a traditional Cornish recipe)

4 medium potatoes   2 oz margarine
a little milk   salt
4 oz plain flour   white pepper

Peel the potatoes, chop into 1" cubes, and boil until soft in lightly salted water. Drain potatoes, mash with a little milk and season with salt and white pepper. Leave to cool.

In a bowl, rub the margarine into the flour, until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the (cool) mashed potatoes, and mix well.

With floury hands, form the mixture into patty shapes the size of burgers, and fry in a little butter in a frying pan, turning halfway through. Delicious served with a little butter on top.

(These can be frozen easily after forming into patty shapes. Flash freeze on trays, then gather up into bags later. Easy to make a lot in advance and then just pull out whenever you want a fry-up.)     (makes about 8)


Port Navas Oyster Soup

2 Dozen oysters
4oz (110gm) butter - unsalted
2oz (50gm) plain flour
½ pint (280ml) single cream
Salt and ground white pepper to taste
2 egg yolks
Juice of 1 lemon
Cayenne pepper
2 pints (1140ml) fish stock
Prepare the fish stock by boiling fish and fish bones in water for ½ hour. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan. When melted stir in the flour and add the strained fish stock then bring to the boil stirring all the time. Add most of the cream, retaining a little to mix with the egg yolks, plus the juice from the oysters. Season to taste. Bring back to the boil, then strain into a tureen and just before serving add the oysters and the egg yolks which have been whipped with the remaining cream. Stir vigorously. Decorate the top with a dash of cayenne pepper.

Pilchard and Leek Pie

4 salted pilchards
4 or 5 large leeks
1 cup fresh single cream
Shortcrust pastry
Beaten egg (for glazing)
salt and pepper to taste
Remove the coarse outer leaves from the leeks, wash and cut into equal lengths of about 2 inches (50mm). The leeks should be scalded in boiling water for two minutes then removed and allowed to drain. When dry they should be laid along the bottom of a pie dish which has already been lined on the bottom and sides with pastry. Four salted pilchards, previously soaked in salt water for 24 hours, should be washed and placed along side the leeks. The pastry cover should be loosely applied and glazed and the pie baked in a moderate oven at 300 to 325 degrees F (130 to 160 degrees C) for fifty minutes. When cooked remove the top crust and drain off the gravy replacing it with the cup of heated cream.

Marinated Pilchards
(Hern ys aysel)

4 to 6 medium pilchards
1pint (570ml) vinegar wine
½ cup cold tea
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Pickling spice
Bay leaves
Brown sugar
Remove the heads, tails and fins from the gutted fish and wash them thoroughly in cold water. Rub pickling spice into the inside of the belly and place a bay leaf inside. Place the fish in an open pie dish and season with pepper and salt, then pour over the cold tea and add sufficient vinegar wine to cover each fish. Leave to stand for 4 to 6 hours before sprinkling a little brown sugar over them. Cover the dish with foil or grease-proof paper and bake in an oven at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 30 minutes or until the bones become soft. When cool drain off the fluid and replace with fresh vinegar wine and allow to stand for 24 hours.

Cornish Cherry Choclets

6oz (1 cup) margarine   16oz (3 3/4 cups) plain flour
1 oz Cornish butter   1 tablespoon baking powder
8oz (1 cup) sugar (caster is best)   6oz chopped-up chocolate
2 tablespoons golden syrup   4 oz glace cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 220C (425F, GM7). Grease baking trays lightly.

Mix well together in a large bowl the margarine, sugar and syrup. Add the flour, baking powder, cherries and chocolate chips. Mix thoroughly.

The dough should be slightly crumbly and just holding together when you squeeze it. Press walnut-sized balls onto baking trays, and bake in the oven for 8 minutes (until just starting to turn brown).   (makes approximately 70).

Cornish Cinnamon Cake

6 egg whites
½lb (230gm) castor sugar
8oz (220gm) sifted S.R. flour
½lb (230gm) butter
Cinnamon - powdered

Beat the egg whites until firm froth is obtained and then stir in the castor sugar, then the butter and finally the sifted flour, mixing it lightly all the time. When mixed add sufficient powdered cinnamon to obtain the desired colour. pour the mixture into a well buttered cake tin and bake for 45 minutes in a pre-heated medium to hot oven about 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).

Cornish Fairings

(Traditional recipe)

4 oz butter   2 tsp baking powder
4 oz sugar   2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
8 oz flour   2 tsp mixed spice
4 tbsp golden syrup   3 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt   1 tsp cinnamon

Sieve together the flour, salt, spices, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Rub in the butter, and add the sugar. Spoon the syrup in to a cup, stand in shallow water in a pan and heat gently until soft.

Pour the liquid syrup onto the other ingredients and work in thoroughly. With floury hands, roll the mixture into small balls and place on a greased baking tray, well spaced out. Bake at 400F, moving the biscuits from the top to the bottom shelf of the oven the moment they being to brown.

Cornish Splits
(Splytys Kernewek)

1½lb (680gm) flour
4oz (110gm) butter
1oz (25gm) lard
1oz (25gm) yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ pint (140ml) warm water
¼ pint (140ml) milk

Put the yeast, sugar and 1 teaspoon flour in a basin, pour on the warm water, mix well and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes. Sieve the flour into a large basin and leave in a warm place. Heat the milk gently, add the lard and butter, leave to melt. Make a well in the middle of the flour and gradually pour in the yeast water and the warmed milk, and butter and lard, mixing all into a soft dough. Leave in a warm place for 1½ hours to rise. Knead for 4 minutes, roll out ½in (12mm) thick. Cut in pieces and form into small balls about the size and shape of a tangerine or small rissole. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Serve cold, split in half, filled with Cornish clotted cream and jam, especially raspberry.

Cornish Tea-Cakes

8 oz self-raising flour   1 oz candied peel
4 oz lard or margarine   2 oz sugar
4 oz currants   1/2 pt milk
1/2 tsp mixed spice   (beaten egg to glaze)

Rub the fat in the flour, then add the currants, sugar, peel and mixed spice. Add sufficient milk to make into a soft dough. Roll out to half an inch thickness and cut to shape with a round cutter. Brush with beaten egg to glaze and bake at about 350F for 10 to 15 minutes. These are nice split and spread with butter.    (Serves 4)

Figgy 'obbin

This is a traditional Cornish recipe. The "figs" refer to the Cornish common name for raisins.

8 oz suet   raisins
1 lb flour   milk
1 tsp salt   sugar
2 tsp baking powder    

Mix together the suet, flour, salt and baking powder. Add water gradually, to form a dry elastic dough. Knead lightly, then roll out to about 1/2" thick. Sprinkle on two handfuls of raisins, roll them in lightly with a rolling pin. Fold up, like a jam suet pudding, sealing the ends. Criss-cross the top with a knife, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Heavy Cake

This is E. Doreen Lewis' recipe for 'Heavy Cake'.  With thanks to Dean Lewis.

2 cups flour   1 cup mixed raisins and currants
4 tablespoon sugar   salt
5 oz. butter and lard mixed   milk to mix

Sift flour with a pinch of salt.  Rub in fat roughly. Mix in sugar and fruit.  Add milk to make a fairly soft dough. Roll out into an oval shape about three-quarters of an inch thick. Score the top both ways in a lattice pattern. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Cut into
squares while hot.


Saffron Cake

8oz (225gm) flour
3-4oz (85-110gm) butter
or margarine
6oz (170gm) sugar
1 egg
1 gill (140ml) warm water
packet saffron
pinch salt
3oz (85gm) seedless raisins
¼oz (15gm) yeast
1oz (25gm) candied peel
Work the yeast, warm water, and part of the flour into a soft dough. Mix well, cover with cloth and leave in a warm place to rise. Sift the remaining flour into a basin with the salt. Cream butter and sugar, add the beaten egg and the saffron infused in a little warm water and combine with the yeast dough. Knead with the raisins and peel, put into a greased baking tin and leave to rise again. Put into a moderate oven and bake for 1-1½ hours.

Whortleberry Pie
(Ys du)

(can be picked on the
moors in late summer
when ripe
Sugar Shortcrust pastry
Cornish cream
Stew the fruit with sugar until tender then make the pie with the shortcrust pastry. Serve with Cornish cream.

Yeast Buns

1 oz yeast   4 oz currants
1/4 pint warm milk   1 lb plain flour
2 oz lard   2 oz sugar
1 level teaspoon salt    

Mix fat, flour, salt and sugar together by rubbing in.  Add currants and yeast mixture then knead all together with warm milk and let it rise to twice its size. Next make little round buns and let rise again.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes in medium oven (400 deg. F. )


1 cup black treacle
2 cups Plymouth Gin

Warm the treacle slightly then stir in the gin until both are well mixed. Now beat furiously for 5 minutes.

Cornish Burnt Cream

1½pints (850ml) thick custard
1pint (570ml) clotted cream
4 egg whites
Citron powder
Castor sugar
For this recipe you require two aluminium pudding basins, the smaller being able to fit inside the other and leave a ½inch (12mm) gap all the way round. Put a layer of custard in the bottom of the smaller dish about ½inch (12mm) thick, then a layer of clotted cream the same thickness, and repeat the layers until both custard and cream are fully used and ending with a cream layer. Sprinkle citron, or even thin lemon slices, on top then a dusting of castor sugar. Now whip the egg whites until stiff and place on the top. The smaller basin should now fit inside the larger and the gap packed with ice. Bake in a very hot oven about 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) for 2½ minutes or under a fierce grill to brown the top lightly.

Cornish Mead

3lbs (1360gm) clear honey
1oz (28gm) yeast
1 gallon (4.55l) water
2 lemons
2 oz (56gm) root ginger
Rosemary sprig

The water should be boiled for 30 minutes then the honey stirred in and the mixture simmered for a further hour. Remove any scum produced with a wooden spoon. The ginger should first be bruised and tied in a muslin bag along with the rosemary. This is added to the fluid along with the juice and rind of the lemons. When the fluid has cooled to luke-warm add the yeast and stir. Cover the vessel and stand in a warm place removing the muslin bag and floating lemon peel after 5 days but allow the mixture to ferment for a further 6 days. Strain with a cloth sieve and bottle, leaving the corks loose initially but when the gas production ceases tighten home. It should be kept bottled for at least two months before drinking.

This drink was traditionally drunk by newly married couples for a month after the wedding hence the term 'honeymoon'.

Summer Punch
(Kemyskyans Haf)
½pint Mint leaves 3tbls Hot water ½pint Apple juice
Juice of 2 lemons   1 pint Ginger Ale  
Wash mint leaves and drain. Put into a jug with the lemon juice and add the dissolved sugar and water. Stand for 2 hours stirring at intervals. Strain and add Ginger Ale and Apple juice. Serve in a punch bowl with lemon.

For other sources of Cornish recipes see my Cornish Links Directory page.

Home|Cornish Pages|About me|Photo Gallery|Genealogy Links|Rings&Links|Bookshop|Guest Book
© Alan Richards 1997 - 2013 Last updated - 24 September, 2013 Web page design by 'Sounds Exciting'