Warm weather in Asturias is synonym of town fairs and romerías (popular parties where food and dancing reign, usually celebrated in the field near a chapel or church on the day of the patron's day).
I have very fond memories of the summer romerías, where most of the family and some friends would gather together and had a feast based on seasonal, simple food. Each person would bring something. The food was nothing too elaborate. Someone would bring a savoury pie –tuna & peppers or chorizo & onion, both were classics-, others would bring a Spanish omelette, salted pork shoulder, some charcuterie, of course cheese, maybe some homemade bread, fruits –figs and plums come to mind- and some easy-to-carry dessert. The mandatory drink was –and still is- Asturian cider.
Western Asturias holds many of these summer memories. Due to the ongoing rural exodus, most people have left the countryside for the urban life. However, summer is the occasion when many come back to their villages -or their parents and grandparents' hometowns- and re-connect with former neighbours and friends.
Romerías are a time for gathering, for sharing the simple pleasures of life. My memories tell me that the picnic blanket was always under a tree. That contrast of the bright fruits against the white blanket has stayed with me since. After the copious amount of food and drink, adults would devote to the infamous siesta –something that really doesn’t happen as often as Spanish clichés suggest- and children would run around freely. I didn’t realise then, but I can see now how heavenly that was.
My grandmother used to make apple and pear pies as both fruits would be available all-year round at her farm. This is a tweak on that tradition.
Strawberry and Lemon Lattice Pie
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Ingredients for a 9" / 21 cm lattice pie
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
250g unsalted butter
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
180g granulated sugar
40g cornstarch (cornflour in the UK)
A pinch of kosher salt
900g strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 lemon, seeds removed and sliced as thin as you can
Demerara or turbinado sugar for sprinkling (optional)
For the crust I followed Bon Appétit's recipe to the letter. You can find it here.
What I have -painfully- learnt is that if there is one thing that is extremely important when making buttery crusts, that is to manipulate the dough as quickly as possible and to keep it chilled.
First, make sure you have enough space in the fridge for a baking sheet. Then flour your surface and roll out one of the disks of dough -leave the other one in the fridge for now- until you have a circular base of around 13"/33cm. The quickiest the better. Transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and return it to the fridge. Do the same with the other disk of dough and once you have a round, transfer it to a sheet of parchment paper and place it together with the other round in the fridge. As long as they are separated with the parchment paper, you can put one on top another.
In a large bowl, mix granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add the strawberries and lemon slices and stir all the ingredients. Ensure the fruits are coated by the sugar mixture.
Preheat oven to 175C (350F). In a small bowl, beat egg with 1 tbsp of water. Slightly floured the pie tin. Take one of the round doughs outside the fridge and very carefully, transfer it to the pie tin. With your hands, lift the edges so that the dough slumps down into the pie tin. Then press it very softly with your fingers against the pie tin. Let at least 2" overhang. Place the tin in the fridge and take out the remaining round dough, cutting it into four (as the picture below) or as many strips as you wish. If you are unsure, this video is very good.
Take out the pie tin from the fridge and pour the strawberry filling, scraping all the remaining juices. Brush the edge with 1/2 egg wash. Lay the strips on top, arranging them alternatively over and under lengthwise to create your desired pattern.
Fold up the edges of the bottom round -where you applied the egg wash- and seal them with the edges of the top round, now displayed in a lattice pattern. Brush the strips with the remaining egg wash and if you go for it, sprinkle with demerara or turbinado sugar.
Foil-lined a baking sheet -I used parchment paper and it worked fine although foil is likely safer- to avoid the juices bubbling over on the baking sheet and the consequent nightmare to clean. Place the pie tin on it. Bake for an hour or until the juices are bubbling and the dough is golden brown. Transfer pie to a cooling rack and let sit at least four hours before serving.