Pastry, in the right hands, can be the pinnacle of cooking. Perfectly baked buttery dough plus all manner of sumptuously flavoured fillings always equals foodie bliss. Certainly, there can be few things better or more elegant than an expertly crafted tart. The only thing that may come close to being as satisfying is a well constructed pun. And when both come together, you have something truly magical.
There can be no pastry auteur as brilliant at both baking and punning as Seattle pastry artist Lauren Ko. Ko specialises in hand sculpting gorgeous tarts using homemade pastry and fruits. Creating her own recipes from scratch, she’s made some of the most gorgeous and visually stunning creations found anywhere on the internet. And she tops every beautifully put together image with a pun-shaped cherry. Perfection, don’t you think?
Despite the complexity of her creations, Ko’s process is actually extremely straightforward. With a focus on pattern, symmetry and visual appeal, she uses geometry to help her brainstorm ideas before beginning construction. According to Ko:
“I usually have some nebulous idea in my head for design and then improvise as I go along, depending on how well the dough or fruit cooperates with my vision. My final products are generally happy accidents.”
Each pie takes between four and five hours, with several steps, including pastry, pie filling and, perhaps most importantly, the crust design.
Ko usually bakes on the weekend, but has been known to successfully attempt bakes on weekdays after work. As a full-time executive assistant to the chancellor of Seattle Colleges, it remains a mystery how she’s able to find the time for such doughy indulgences.
Much of Ko’s inspiration comes from her family, who are just as passionate about the kitchen as she is. Growing up in a family where cooking was a central focus has clearly left its mark. Speaking to Mashable, Ko stated:
“I come from a family of good eaters and phenomenal home cooks, so it feels a bit as if I’ve been cooking and baking my whole life. I have a lot of memories growing up of being in the kitchen and baking with my mom or watching my grandmother cook. I do really enjoy cooking and baking, so have continued to do it on my own since.”
Though the foodie influence in her upbringing is clear, what is less obvious is where she developed her love of puns. With pictures captioned with gems such as, “life’s a peach and then you pie”, “love makes the swirled go ’round'”, “a breath of fresh pear” and “lost for curds”, it’s clear that Ko is as much a wordsmith as she is a pie-master.
For many people, pies are the exemplar of unfussy, home-cooked comfort food. Most of you will have a friend or family member whose recipe you will absolutely swear by, and you would never acknowledge that someone else’s pastry could possibly come close. What Lauren Ko has done, however, is take a homely classic and turn it into art. However impressive your Aunt Mable’s apple pie may be, there is no way it can come close touching one of these.