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(Image: Oksana Lusnikova)

Auburn's Pie Style is the perfect mix of American and European-style baked goods

We've all eaten our share of sourdough bread over the last year. We've mastered the monster cookies baked at midnight and banana bread at any time of the day rounds out this perfect equation. But this baked goods party is missing some key players: the honey cake, monestary hut cake, the savory prosciutto, basil and cheese piroshki. For these specialties, we're heading to Pie Style Bakery in Auburn.

Opened last May, owner Oksana Lusnikova is bringing her expert baking skills and inventive recipes to spice up what we consider our favorite pastries. Pie Style is the perfect mix of American and European-style baked goods, covering both savory and sweet treats. All homemade from scratch, Lusnikova focuses on using simple ingredients in her bakes. She cherishes her time spent baking and aims to fuel her customers to pursue their own dreams.

Lusnikova started baking when she was a young girl growing up in Ukraine. She has fond memories of baking with her family, and now she's out to share it with the rest of us.

"I really love natural tastes, so we use simple ingredients like unbleached flour, organic sugar, fruits, vegetables and seeds," Lusnikova said. "I am always on the lookout for good ingredients, and this is one of the biggest challenges."

Authentic piroshkis are a highlight of the menu. Baked golden brown with savory fillings like salmon, feta and basil and cabbage mushroom almost all of the reviews rave about these. Lusnikova typically bakes eight to 10 doughs each morning to fill the shop with baked treats, and the menu varies. Some days you'll find cheesecakes in the variety of cherry, kiwi, or strawberry. Pie Style highlights seasonal ingredients, too, and transforms them into delights like apple strudel or poppyseed, blueberry pie. If you're lucky, Lusnikova will have black forest cake on the menu.

Pie Style incorporates many ingredients we're accustomed to in baked goods like pears, raspberries, sour cherries and apples - but Lusnikova's bakes also regularly showcase a filling that shows up often in European baked goods: the poppy seed.

"Poppy seeds bring me back to my childhood," she said. "In Ukraine when I was a child, my family grew poppy seeds in order to prepare rolls in winter for the holidays. I loved to look at the blooming poppy. I loved the flavor of the yeast dough, poppy seeds, walnut rolls and the happy faces of my family. These little things have played a big role in my life. Today you can taste the flavors from my childhood."

It's been hard work to open a bakery during the pandemic, but Lusnikova is doing what she loves, sharing her home country's flavors with each of us. The reactions when a customer bites into one of her heavenly bakes is proof enough that she's doing everything right.

"It gives strength and confidence in what we do," she said. "I love what I do, and I do what I love. I wish you the same and I wish good health to everyone to bring their ideas to life."

Pie Style Bakery is located at 1111 E. Main St., Auburn. The shop is open Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.