how to use this site
origins, early history and folk lore
family trees (direct line)
related trees
others by parish emigrés and immigrants
documents and sources
contextual date charts
you are here


There are many variations on recipes for the old Cornish standards, and everyone will tell you theirs is the original. You can ignore most such claims and recreate the authentic taste with your own twist, provided you stick to certain basic principles. To start with the most popular and contentious:

The Pasty

First, be clear that in Cornwall turnip means swede. If you hear of old recipes using turnips they mean swedes and assume you knew that.

Pastry is traditionally made with lard. You can use butter or even make puff pastry, but whichever you choose, use it cold so you can grate it into the flour in smaller pieces.The meat is proper steak in chunks. Some shops in Cornwall use mince now, but such dens of iniquity should be avoided. If you want to buy one, try Choaks in Killigrew St., Falmouth, or the West Cornwall Pasty Company. But making your own is always best.

Heat the oven to mark 6 (400). Mix pastry with 1lb flour, 5 oz lard, pinch of salt and water. Rest for an hour in frifge then cut and roll into 4 pieces about 7 inches round.

Cut up Ilb good beef into small cubes, removing any gristle but leaving a little fat. Cut up 1lb old potatoes into small pieces and grate 1lb swede. Finely chop an onion. Layer onto the pastry rounds in this order; onion, then meat with pepper and salt to taste, potato next and swede last.

Bring edges together and crimp to seal. Use water if necesary but fold over to make the traditional rope edging. Glaze with milk or egg. Cook for 45 about minutes.

Eat one hot and one cold to compare. If not sure which you prefer, try again. Then start the recipe over. Best taken with proper cider and a loosened belt.

Pasties in Mexico, Cornish miners and chili sauce.


Heavy Cake

Heat the oven to mark 4 (350). Mix 1lb plain flour with 3 ozs each of sultanas and currants, 2 ozs grated lemon peel, 1/2 pound of butter and 1/4 pound of lard. Rub in fats, add pinch of salt and mix to a dough with water. Roll out to about 3/4 inch, brush with milk and bake on a greased and floured tray for about 45 minutes.

Variations use baking powder, sugar, milk, a small percentage of self-raising flour. Lemons are a modern invention so could be omitted. Instead of being rolled it can also be dolloped. The main thing is - no eggs.

Saffron Cake.

From a cheap standby to this more expensive treat, also known as sufferin' cake.

Steep one packet of saffron (10 grains) in water overnight.

Whisk an ounce of yeast into half a cup of milk. Put 1lb of strong white flour in a bowl and rub in 3oz each of lard and butter. Add 2 ozs sugar, 6 ozs currants and one oz peel. Pour in steeped safrron, milk and yeast (use latter to rinse out former to avoid wasting any). Add one egg. Mix with a knife then knead.

Cover with a cloth and wait until it doubles in size. Knead again. Place in greased tins, about half way up. When it starts to rise over the top of the ofthe tin, put it in the oven at 352F for about a hour.


Set the oven to mark 4 (350). Mix a teaspoon of baking powder with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and a teaspoon each of ground ginger, mixed spice and cinnamon. Sieve in 4 ozs flour and add 2 ozs brown sugar. Mix, then rub in 2 ozs margarine. Warm 2ozs of golden syrup and add that too. Roll the final mix into small balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes, reduce to mark 3 and cook another 5-10 minutes. Or you can buy them in tall tins from Furniss of Truro.

Star Gazey Pie

This involves pilchards baked in a pie, with their heads sticking out so they can stare at the sky. It can be bought in a pub in Mousehole but I have never heard anyone order it. You really don't want to know.