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Tips for making Cornish foods at home

Although restrictions are beginning to ease, it will still be a few more months until everything starts to return to some kind of normality with the governments’ roadmap out of lockdown stating that 21st June is the estimated date when all legal limits on social contact will be lifted.

Cornwall is again expected to be a popular destination for many with its world-class beaches and countless walking trails. If you have been on cheap caravan holidays in Cornwall before, you will also have tasted the county’s legendary cuisine.

In this guide, we share tips about making popular Cornish foods at home so you can practice ahead of your holiday to the county.

Best Cornish foods to cook at home:

  • Cornish cream tea
  • Cornish Yarg
  • Cornish pasty
  • Stargazy pie
  • Saffron bun

Cornish cream tea

Cornish cream tea

The traditional Cornish cream tea takes many forms, but the best version is freshly baked scones, strawberry jam and a generous amount of clotted cream.

There is a big difference between the traditional Cornish cream tea and the Devon cream tea. The Cornish version would see you spread the jam on the scone first and the cream ladled on last, but across the Tamar, in Devon, they spread the cream and then add the jam.

Cornish Hampers recommends you try making a Cornish cream tea at home. They said: “We’d recommend making your own Cornish cream tea. There are plenty of scone and jam recipes online, so we’ve focused on the unique part to Cornwall – the clotted cream! Outside of the West Country, it isn’t always easy to find clotted cream in supermarkets all year round but it isn’t massively difficult to make. All cream comes from milk, the difference between clotted cream and other creams is simply that clotted cream has a higher fat content so to produce clotted cream all we need to do is to cook regular heavy cream and remove the liquid layer.

“When choosing the cream to cook you would need to avoid anything that says ultra-pasteurised, we still want cream from pasteurised milk but if it’s ultra-pasteurised it can produce grainy clotted cream. The only hard part is the time it takes, the cream needs to be placed in an ovenproof sided tray and left to cook at 80-90C for around 12 hours. After this point you scrape off the cream / fat layer on top, this is your clotted cream and you can dispose of the liquid. After it has been left to stand you then place it in the fridge ready to be dolloped on your scones!”

Ingredients for Cornish cream tea:

  • 345g self-raising flour
  • 75g castor sugar
  • 75g of margarine
  • 2 small eggs
  • 30ml of milk
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • A medium round pastry cutter
  • Strawberry jam
  • Clotted cream (see description for the method to make this)

Cornish Yarg

This semi-hard cheese, which is wrapped in nettle, and made from grass rich Cornish milk is another Cornish food you could look to replicate at home.

This international award-winning cheese is tangy under its natural rind and slightly crumbly in the core and it has become hugely popular in recent years.

During the 2020 Great British Bake Off, Cornwall’s food was brilliantly showcased by Marc Elliott, not least Cornish Yarg.

Lynher Dairies make some of the best Cornish Yarg you can find and they told us about the method of making Walnut and Yarg scones:

“Preheat the oven to 180C. Stir the yoghurt, cream and sugar, leaving the sugar to dissolve. Rub in the butter to make fine ‘breadcrumbs’. Add the grated Yarg, walnuts and yoghurt. Work the mixture into a sticky dough and scoop onto a floured surface. Dust top and pat into 4cm deep block. Use a 6cm cutter to make scones. Place on a deep-sided tray. Brush the tops with egg and leave for 15 mins. Sprinkle on Yarg and bake for 12-14 mins until just coloured then cool on a rack and enjoy!”

Ingredients for Cornish Yarg:

  • 350g yoghurt
  • 25ml double cream
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1tsp celery salt
  • 2tsp cream of tartar
  • 1tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g Cornish Yarg
  • 12g chopped walnuts
  • Beaten egg, pinch of salt and 10g grated Cornish Yarg.

Cornish pasty

How to make a Cornish pasty

A list about making Cornish foods just wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include a Cornish pasty. The national dish of Cornwall is comfort food at its very best.

If you’ve been lucky enough to have stayed in holiday parks in Cornwall and have visited a nearby Cornish bakery or even experienced the smells wafting out of pasty shops inside train stations, you will know Cornish pasties are universally loved.

The simple yet effective combination of buttery shortcrust pastry and chunks of beef, root vegetables and gravy is hard to resist. It’s no surprise Cornwall’s miners looked forward to their lunch after spending their mornings doing backbreaking work underground in the mines.

The Cornish Pasty Association, who champion and protect the authenticity and distinctiveness of the genuine Cornish pasty and talk about the trademarks a pasty needs to be able to call itself a genuine Cornish pasty. From the ingredients inside such as roughly diced or minced beef to the shortcrust pastry on the outside and the crimp.

Ingredients for a Cornish pasty

For shortcrust pastry:

  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 120g lard or white shortening
  • 125g Cornish butter
  • 1tsp salt
  • 175ml cold water

For the filling:

  • 400g good quality beef skirt, cut into cubes
  • 300g potato, peeled and diced
  • 150g swede/turnip*, peeled and diced
  • 150g onion, peeled and sliced
  • Salt & pepper to taste (2:1 ratio)
  • Beaten egg or milk to glaze
  • *The vegetable to use is the yellow-fleshed swede, not a white turnip.

To find out more about the recipe for making a Cornish pasty, click here.

Stargazy pie

how to cook Stargazy pie

The Stargazy pie is an old English favourite that is believed to have been born in Mousehole in Cornwall. The pie is arguably the Duchy’s most famous fish pie and although a little odd-looking with the heads and tails of sardines poking out, it is a delicious, hearty dish.

The Cornish Fishmonger shares the method people should use if they are looking to make the Stargazy pie at home.

“Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Heat a frying pan, add the vegetable oil, and soften the fennel, garlic and tomatoes, with spices and sea salt. Neatly arrange the diced up fish in a pie dish.

“Lay the sardines on the mixture, with their heads facing skywards. Roll the shortcrust pastry to fit the size of the pie dish.

“Cover the pie dish with shortcrust pastry, leaving the heads of sardines looking out of the pastry and seal the edges with egg wash. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Serve hot, with lots of dressed salad leaves and buttered potatoes.”

Ingredients for Stargazy pie:

  • 100g rolled shortcrust pastry
  • 6 gutted Sardines
  • 400g Hake filets or diced Cornish fish
  • 1 large, chopped fennel
  • 1 clove, peeled and chopped garlic
  • 2 chopped tomato
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 1tsp coriander
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • 1 egg
  • 20ml vegetable oil
  • A pinch of Cornish sea salt

Saffron buns

How to make saffron buns

The Saffron bun is another Cornish classic that you can look to make at home. These golden fruited buns were traditionally a treat for children at church functions and their flavour and colour comes from saffron, which was once grown in the county.

Patisseries Makes Perfect recommends making Proper Job Cornish Saffron Buns. The food blog says they used the Cornish IPA called Proper Job, which is brewed at the St Austell Brewery, to make Saffron buns by soaking the raisins in the beer and using them in the dough as well.

Patisseries Makes Perfect talks about the saffron bun on their blog: “Beer really works in baking and these buns would be a great alternative to Hot Cross Buns this Easter. These buns don’t have a very long proving time, so they are a really easy bake, a nice touch is to glaze the warm buns with a sugar solution as soon as they come out of the oven.”

You can find their recipe here.

Ingredients for Saffron bun:

  • 220g raisins
  • 100ml Proper Job
  • 575g strong white bread flour
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 120g lard/trex/butter
  • 7g fast action yeast
  • 275g Proper Job
  • Large pinch of saffron
  • Butter for greasing
  • To glaze:
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • 2tbsp boiling water

These are just some of the most iconic Cornish foods that you can look to make at home, but when it is safe to travel you can taste them for yourself from little quaint bakeries and restaurants. To read more stories about Cornwall, check out our blog.

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