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Cookbook Club: Pieometry
Getting geometric with our fruits and vegetables with author Lauren Ko.
Just when I thought I’d seen everything that Instagram had to offer, Lauren from Lokokitchen burst onto the scene - forcing everyone to stop the scroll to see her intricate pie lattice and colorful tarts. Now a New York Times Best Selling author, Lauren teaches us her woven ways through colorful photos and witty puns in her book Pieometry.
Lauren grew up on Marie Callender pies, but after moving to Seattle to look for a new job, she began filling her free time learning how to lattice. She went back to basics with a paring knife and began hand-carving geometric shapes out of dough and produce. Just months after posting on social media, Lauren landed a segment on Martha Bakes where she unlocked the mystery to her signature “Spoke Signals” design for culinary icon Martha Stewart.
Lauren’s pies and tarts embody “edible art” to the fullest. The tarts use striking colors and a range of fruit from all seasons. Her intricate crusts are like woven tapestries that top both sweet and savory pies. Sound intimidating? Don’t worry, Pieometry is full of step-by-step photos for recreating her designs at home.
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Tessa Huff: Why did you decide to write this book?
Lauren Ko: What began as a casual hobby in my humble home kitchen launched me into the world by accidental storm. I didn't have a food blog or really any other avenue that I was sharing my work beyond Instagram images, and I wanted to share the recipes and design how-to’s. It felt important to me to show that this art is accessible to everyone - whether baking novices or professionals.
TH: Which recipe should readers try first? Or which has become a stand-out recipe with readers so far?
LK: I'm partial to a good savory tart, and No Rings Attached is perfect for the current summer season. The tart is comprised of an everything but the bagel crust, a smoked salmon filling, and an ombre design made with fresh tomatoes (which can be substituted for any summer fresh veg like cucumbers, carrots, radishes, or peas)! Not to mention, it comes together very easily and pretty quickly with minimal bake time!
TH: Can you name a must-have ingredient or signature flavor that you use in your recipes often? Or do you think there is special quality about your recipes or writing that readers can identify as being uniquely yours?
LK: Butter is probably the main character of this book. :) But beyond basic ingredients, I think overall Lokokitchen is associated with colorful geometric design and a humorous voice rife with terrible puns and dad jokes. Since those elements have really come to define my Instagram account, it felt important to feature them in the book as well.
TH: What keeps you inspired and creative in the kitchen?
LK: A love of art, design, baking, and feeding those I love!
TH: What were you listening to or reading at the time of writing this book?
LK: I'm generally terrible at multitasking, but somehow the manual labor of pie-making (hand-making pie dough, peeling and cutting produce, and meticulously designing) leaves my brain enough space to absorb a high volume of audiobooks and podcasts. I spent all of 2019 working on PIEOMETRY and my favorite audiobooks from that period were: Permanent Record (Mary H. Choi), Washington Black (Esi Edugyan), and Night Tiger (Yangsze Choo).
TH: Walk into a reader’s home and where can you find your book? Displayed on a coffee table, next to the bed for late-night studying, or splattered with batter in the kitchen?
LK: All of the above!! The book features 25 pies and 25 tarts with dough recipes, filling recipes, and design tutorials, and was written for professionals, home cooks, and armchair bakers alike. Whether one considers themselves a baker, designer, or enthusiastic eater, there's a slice for everyone!
TH: What is one important key to success for home bakers wanting to try new recipes?
LK: Practically speaking, the golden rule of pie-making is to keep everything cold! Your butter should be cold when you go to make your dough. Your dough should be cold when you go to roll it out. And your pie should be cold before baking to ensure the crust design doesn't melt away into oblivion.
It's also important to remember that there are no baking fails, just opportunities to learn and improve for the next baking session!
“Happy as a Gram” Cran-Rasberry Tart
‘But does it taste as good as it looks?’ Oh my goodness - yes! This is one of the tastiest tarts I’ve tried. The curd has the perfect balance of tart and sweet. I was a bit intimidated by the design, but this one turned out much easier than I thought. Although the shapes are cut free-hand, creating the puzzle pieces was fun and rewarding. - Tessa Huff
1 baked tart shell (in its pan)
15 ounces (425 g) cranberries and/or raspberries, fresh or frozen*
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, diced
2 to 3 firm kiwis
½ white-fleshed dragon fruit (pitaya)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the fruit and 2 tablespoons of water in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, cook the fruit until the cranberries burst and the fruit begins to break down, about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and press the fruit through a fine mesh sieve set over a mixing bowl. Use a rubber spatula to press on the pulp and extract as much juice/puree as possible. Discard the skins and seeds.
Transfer the fruit puree back to the saucepan. Add the lemon juice, sugar, salt, eggs, and egg yolks and whisk to combine. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until warmed through.
Add the butter pieces, a few at a time, and stir until melted.
While stirring frequently, continue to cook the fruit curd until it thickens enough to coat the spatula, 5 to 8 minutes.
Place the baked tart shell on a rimmed baking sheet. Strain the curd, again, through a fine mesh sieve and into the baked tart shell. Spread out the surface with an offset spatula until smooth. Bake the tart for 5 minutes, or until the filling is just set.
Completely cool the tart before decorating.
To decorate, peel the fruit and slice them into ¼-inch pieces. From there, use a sharp knife to carefully cut the fruit into triangles and other small shapes.
Begin by placing one of the pieces of cut fruit near the edge of the tart. Continue to carefully arrange the fruit on top, doing your best to keep them evenly spaced, until the top of the tart is covered.
Keep the tart in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The tart is best served within 2 days.
*Lauren calls for fresh or frozen cranberries for the curd. I only had about 10 ounces of cranberries, so I added another 5 ounces of frozen raspberries. The curd tasted delicious! Cranberries and raspberries have a similar level of tartness, so I did not adjust the sugar or any of the other ingredients. However, I do suspect that this might be why my final curd, despite straining twice, still had some small seeds and a bit more texture.
Lauren says to cut the fruit into 1/4-inch slices before cutting. Admittedly, my fruit slices ended up being on the thinner side. To make sure the fruit really ‘pops’ and is less translucent, stick with her recommend 1/4-inch thick slices.
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