Intrigued by an invitation to visit Queens Mill in Castleford last year, I was delighted to be taken on a tour of the mill and site. They say that the mill’s history can be traced back to Norman times but there’s a hint that the Romans were grinding flour nearby too. It’s a mammoth task to restore the mill and its gigantic waterwheel but it’s very clear that the ambitious vision to provide first-class community facilities is well underway.
I was privileged to be offered a bag of Castleford stoneground flour with the proviso that I should try out one of their recipes. The volunteers had already put together a book of their favourite ones using their special flour, so I was keen to get baking.
I lighted upon ‘Yorkshire Mint Pasties’. This turns out to be one of those old Yorkshire recipes which has been adapted over time as it gets passed down through the generations. You can take your pick of small or large-sized pasties. The combination of fresh mint from the garden, dried fruit and spices work surprisingly well.
For the wholewheat shortcrust pastry
450g/1lb wholewheat flour
110g/4oz butter (cut into small pieces)
110g/4oz lard or butter
water to mix
Rub the butter into the flour to the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Mix with water to form a ball. Leave to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes.
For the filling
50g/2oz candid peel
50g/2oz brown sugar
1 tbsp chopped fresh garden mint
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tsp water
Milk or beaten egg and caster sugar to glaze
How to bake:
Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5/375F. Line or butter a large baking tray. Prepare the filling by melting the butter gently in a pan over a low heat and mixing in all the other ingredients. Roll out the pastry thinly. Cut out small 10cm/4-inch circles (makes about 14 small pasties) or two large 25cm/10-inch circles for a large round pasty.
For the small pasties, spread the filling evenly over half the circle, and moisten the edge of the pastry with milk or beaten egg to seal the edges. Fold over the other half of the circle over the filling to make a crescent shape. Crimp the edges of the crescent to make a pattern. Place the pasties on the baking tray, then brush the tops with the rest of the milk or beaten egg and sprinkle the caster sugar over them. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.
For a large pasty, place the filling in the centre of one of the pastry circles and put the other circle on top. Seal the edges in the same way as the small pasties. Prick all over the top with a fork, brush with milk or beaten egg, sprinkle with caster sugar and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
Queens Mill is currently the main focal point of enquiry for community support in Castleford, since Castleford Heritage Trust is providing an essential service as a community hub in the Wakefield District. In addition, because of the shortage of flour, sales have vastly exceeded expectations and the team has been milling almost daily. So, bravo and well done to all those volunteers involved.
Why not try out these traditional Yorkshire mint pasties and when it’s safe to visit the mill, support the tremendous work the volunteers are doing!
You can read more about Grandma Abson’s life, her passion for baking and recipes HERE. Or head over to @potsaway on Instagram to check out how Meryl and Patrick are still cooking together apart in #lockdown.