Professor Joanna Verran’s Cornish Pasty


What is your role at Manchester Met?

Professor of Microbiology, National Teaching Fellow, Head of School of Research, Enterprise and Innovation, Head of Science Communication and Public Engagement

What does that involve?

The longest job title in the world (see above), sums it up.

Which women inspire you and why?

No-one particularly – I think there is inspiration to be taken from so many women for all sorts of different reasons.

What is the greatest challenge to women working in Higher Education?

I think women lack confidence in their own ability and need to ‘take a punt’ more often. They are typically brilliant, thorough, conscientious, warm and collegiate – what better person to work with?

What is your favourite recipe?

Cornish Pasty

My recipe – well I thought something a little quirky.

Why cook something from scratch when you can buy it? Cornish pasties, amongst the least healthy but most exceptional foods. Pastry, potato, turnip (swede), onion, skirt (beef), white pepper, bit of butter (in that order), and a clever twist with the crimping. Parsley an option (inside the pasty, not as decoration!).

When in Cornwall, whence I came, the best experience is to get a pasty from the Philps shop in Marazion and eat it out of the bag, sitting on the beach wall, looking at St Michael’s Mount, with either the sun blazing on your head, or the wind blasting through your hair. The inside of the pasty is so hot you have to take in gulps of air with the steaming food.

So, cooking your own: the good thing is the minimum of dishes to wash up; the irritating thing is cutting up the potatoes, onions, turnip and meat into small chunks. Either prepare in advance or as you go. Try not to make them bigger than your biggest plate and if eating at home, then ketchup is a desirable side!

If you are making your own, here’s a traditional recipe:

This recipe is for six good sized Cornish pasties.

For shortcrust pastry (rough puff can also be used):

  • 500 g strong bread flour (it is important to use a stronger flour than normal as you need the extra strength in the gluten to produce strong pliable pastry)
  • 120 g lard or white shortening
  • 125 g Cornish butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 175 ml cold water

For the filling:

  • 450 g good quality beef skirt, cut into cubes
  • 450 g potato, diced
  • 250 g swede, diced
  • 200 g onion, sliced
  • Salt & pepper to taste( 2:1 ratio)
  • Beaten egg or milk to glaze
  1. Rub the two types of fat lightly into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Add water, bring the mixture together and knead until the pastry becomes elastic. This will take longer than normal pastry but it gives the pastry the strength that is needed to hold the filling and retain a good shape. This can also be done in a food mixer.
  3. Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 3 hours in the fridge. This is a very important stage as it is almost impossible to roll and shape the pastry when fresh.
  4. Roll out the pastry and cut into circles approx. 20cm diameter. A side plate is an ideal size to use as a guide.
  5. Layer the vegetables and meat on top of the pastry, adding plenty of seasoning.
  6. Bring the pastry around and crimp the edges together (see our guide to crimping).
  7. Glaze with beaten egg or an egg and milk mixture.
  8. Bake at 165 degrees C (fan oven) for about 50 – 55 minutes until golden.

How to crimp:

  1. Lightly brush the edge of the pastry with water.
  2. Fold the other half of pastry over the filling and squeeze the half circle edges firmly together.
  3. Push down on the edge of the pasty and using your index finger and thumb twist the edge of the pastry over to form a crimp.
  4. Repeat this process along the edge of the pasty.
  5. When you’ve crimped along the edge, tuck the end corners underneath.

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