With the chilly weather upon us, there's no better time to curl up with a good [cook] book and get inspired for the upcoming holiday season and beyond. For many people, Thanksgiving means baking or buying a traditional pumpkin pie. But there's one local woman who has a fresh take on it. Over the past three years, Lauren Ko has become something of a pie celebrity. She's transformed the act of baking a pie into edible art. Known for her colorful, modern and fresh approach, the 'home baker' has written a new book. Refined [virtually] visited her kitchen to get the deets.
Seattle Refined: Lauren Ko, you’re the artist and baker behind the super popular Instagram account @lokokitchen, and you’re based right here in Seattle! I am so excited to talk to you because you have a brand new book out. How did you discover your passion for making pies?
Lauren Ko: It was actually kind of an accident. I moved to Seattle about four years ago, and just happened to stumble across these beautiful pictures of pies on Pinterest. I wondered if I could make one. A year later I started my @lokokitchen Instagram account. It just so happened that the first picture I put up was a pie and then my account almost immediately went viral.
You’ve only had your Instagram account for three years but you’ve been incredibly popular - you have over 340,000 followers. Are you a formally trained baker?
I have no culinary, pastry or design training.I’m not an engineer, I’m not a mathematician I am just a regular, you know, nerd puttering around in her home kitchen!
Your work - and I want to call it pie art (!) looks like it would be super hard for a novice, but you say anybody can do it?
That’s kind of the premise of my book 'Pieometry' is that it’s written for professional chefs, home bakers, armchair baker and eaters alike. These recipes and instructions and photos will walk you from start to finish.
Can you tell is about a few of your favorite pies that are truly a feast for the senses?
We’ll start with the savory one since that's a good segue - I have a Bacon Butternut Mac and Cheese Pie with a cheddar crust that’s kind of become a fall tradition. There’s a whole range of sweet pies as well, and tarts. A Cardamom Coffee Tart with a hand sliced pear, a White Carrot Miso Pie that has I have a black sesame crust that I really love. Lots of different flavors in the books hopefully people are excited about experimenting.
What characteristics make a great pie?
Of course I want it to look good, but bottom line is flavor, so you want something that tastes good and especially for pies you want something with a crisp golden crust - no soggy bottoms!
If you could only take one pie with you to a desert island - or should I say in your case a dessert island - what would it be?
There’s one in the book that has potatoes, caramelized onion, and Irish border cheddar - and I am actually not allowed to make it that often in our house because it’s so dangerously delicious!
Any chance you could show us how to make one of your pies?
I’m gonna walk you through the Signature Spoke. It’s the cover design of my book and it’s been dubbed the modern lattice
[Lauren prepped the blueberry pie ingredients and dough to demo her 'Signature Spoke'].
How to Make Lauren Ko's 'Signature Spoke'
- Toss blueberries with a little bit of sugar and tapioca starch.
- Place a circle [cookie] cutter right on the surface of the pie as a center reference point.
- Have a second disc of dough that has been rolled out and cut into strips that are a quarter inch thick.
- Continue down the line placing the strips [around the circle cookie cutter] until the pie is covered over all the way around twice
- Gently remove the circle cutter from the center
- Take a paring knife and just run it around.
- Add some fresh berries in center
Lauren Ko from @lokokitchen and Pieometry - I think the pie is the limit for you!
I hope so, thank you. I see what you did there [laughing] ... appreciate it!