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Dorothy Hodgson

Pasties
Shullsburg, WI

Lots of Ways to Make Good Pasties

Do you know people who care about making good food? Do they try to use the perfect ingredients, search for excellent flavors, make sure to cook the dish just right, and love to see other people eat what they make? That’s what Dorothy did with her pasties!

Good cooks try to perfect their dishes, and that includes people who make pasties. Pasty makers try new things. They add less flour or more water in their crust. They leave out carrots or put in rutabaga in the filling.

Pasty makers have to decide how they’re going to shape the dough. There’s no one right or wrong way, just lots of different preferences by different cooks.

The pasties here are crimped on the side. They were made by members of a church in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Some say this was the original Cornish way, because miners would have an easier time eating it.

     

These pasties are crimped on the top. They were made by Dorothy and her friend Evelyn Clark. See the difference from the pasties above? These pasties have a “rope” of dough on the top.

Dorothy also made pasties that are like a pie. She makes these when a group of people eat together, family style.

Other cooks make pasties in other shapes. If you go to this restaurant in Mineral Point, you’ll be served pasty made The Red Rooster Cafe. Photo by Andy Kraushaar.in a long pan, like lasagna. That’s fine in a restaurant where you’re sitting at a table with forks and knives. But that style would have been hard for the miners to eat. For them, pasty was the perfect meal because it came in its own wrapper (the crust) and it didn’t need to be eaten with silverware.

Then and Now

With so many different ways to make pasties, you might be wondering: “How can I tell what is a pasty and what isn’t?” Here are three basics—

The ingredients should be raw, not pre-cooked, when they go into the rolled-out dough. The crust should be made with flour, shortening and water. (Dorothy used lard for her shortening.) The pasty should be baked. (Dorothy baked her pasties at 350 F for one hour.)

In Wisconsin, pasties began as a Cornish food eaten by miners in southwest Wisconsin. Today, pasty makers and eaters are people from many ethnicities and different parts of the state and region. Let’s look at this contrast—

Then:

 

Now:

Typically pasties were made by Cornish women for their families.

Dorothy, who was Swiss, not Cornish, made pasties for her family and her church.
 

Then:

 

Now:

Cornish miners ate pasties in the lead mines of southwest Wisconsin.

So many people eat pasties in Shullsburg that Dorothy’s church makes and sells them to raise money.
 

Then:

 

Now:

The dough for the crust was mixed with a person’s hands, not a mixing machine.
 

Dorothy mixed the dough with her hands.
 

Then:

 

Now:

Steak and potato were the original ingredients. Cooks often added onion and rutabaga.

Along coastal regions, you can find pasties with fish. Italian cooks like to put peppers in their pasties. Some cooks serve pasties with ketchup or gravy on the top or to the side.
 

Then:

 

Now:

Cornish wives sometimes carved their husband’s initials on the pasty with a knife. This was to stop a miner from “accidentally” taking another man’s pasty.

When Dorothy’s church makes pasties, they carve initials on some. The initials tell which pasties are made with no salt, less onions or no onions.

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“I do not use a pastry blender. I like the feel of the pie crust. I like to do it with my hands because I know by the feel of the crust whether it is mixed enough.”

– Dorothy Hodgson

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