Lauren Ko, who baked her first pie just four years ago, has become a social media sensation thanks to images of the gorgeous pies and tarts she whips up in her Seattle home, posted to her pun-filled Instagram account, Lokokitchen. Now she has authored a cookbook, “Pieometry: Modern Tart Art and Pie Design for the Eye and the Palate” (William Morrow).
Ko’s appetizing artistry will be featured on “CBS Sunday Morning” November 15.
Ko offered “Sunday Morning” viewers her recipe for a cranberry tart festooned with geometric designs, which she calls “Happy As A Gram.”
“I’ve never been very mathematically inclined, as my brain has always been more adept at arranging words than numbers,” she writes. “The amount of nights I’ve cried over frustrating problem sets I couldn’t solve over my lifetime is incalculable. That I’ve been able to contribute anything to the discipline of pieometry seems incongruent with my history, but as we know, life rarely moves in a straight line, and the thrill of this unforeseen angle has been acute.
“Inspired by the tangram, a Chinese dissection puzzle made up of geometric shapes arranged in varying combinations to form other shapes, this design is one that has come to define the Lokokitchen aesthetic. While the concept is derived through coplanar placement of polygons and assorted angles, don’t get bogged down by the formula. Ultimately, the sum of its parts is simply a tart, and variables will translate, too.”
Happy As A Gram
1 baked Speculoos Cookie Crust (see recipe below)
15 ounces (425 grams) cranberries, fresh or frozen
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¾ cup (149 grams) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, at room temperature, cut into ½-inch cubes
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Combine the cranberries and 2 tablespoons water in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the cranberries burst and start to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and press the cranberries through a fine-mesh sieve with a silicone spatula, extracting as much purée as possible. Discard the remaining pulp and return the purée to the saucepan.
3. Add the lemon juice, sugar, salt, eggs, and egg yolks to the cranberry purée and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, whisking continuously, until the mixture is thickened enough to coat a spatula, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping the corners of the saucepan. Add the butter gradually and stir until all the cubes have melted.
4. Remove from the heat and strain the curd through a fine-mesh sieve.
5. Keep the baked tart shell in the tart pan and place on a baking sheet. Pour the curd into the tart shell, smoothing the surface. Bake the tart for 5 minutes, just to set the filling.
6. Cool completely before decorating.
Tangram Design Process
1 firm mango
1 white-fleshed dragon fruit (pitaya)
2 or 3 firm kiwis
1. Peel and cut the fruit into ¼-inch slices. Arrange the fruit slices on a large plate organized by type.
2. Cut any type of triangle – equilateral, scalene, obtuse, acute, isosceles, right – from a piece of mango, slicing as close to the edge as possible to maximize the yield of each fruit slice. Pause here if you feel the need to Google image search some triangles. Otherwise, throw math to the wind and cut any sort of shape with three sides. Place it along a tart edge.
3. Cut another shape from a kiwi slice and place it next to the mango, leaving some space between the fruit, not unlike tile grout lines. Generally, polygons like triangles, parallelograms, and trapezoids work well for this design. I avoid shapes with more than four sides mainly to save time, but if manually sliced hexagons or even hendecagons (back to Google…) are your thing, by all means, go wild! This is your tart, your life.
4. Cut another shape, perhaps a rhombus, from a slice of dragon fruit, and fit it next to the kiwi. Continue cutting shapes, alternating among fruits, and puzzling the pieces together on the tart. Build out from your starting point and slowly fill the whole surface, gradually working your way to the other edge.
5. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This tart is best consumed within 2 days.
Papaya, pineapple, persimmon.
For design alternatives, you can opt to use a single variety of fruit for a monochromatic aesthetic, and you can also arrange your tangrams to cover only a crescent-shaped area of the surface rather than the full slate.
Speculoos Cookie Crust
32 (250 grams) packaged speculoos cookies
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick/85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Put the cookies in a food processor and blitz until the cookies are a uniformly sandy texture. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse until the mixture comes together like wet sand.
3. Turn the mixture out into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Use your fingers to pack the mixture tightly into the pan, going all the way up the sides, then use your palm to flatten the bottom. Make sure the edges and the bottom are compact and of even thickness. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet to catch any butter drips that occur during baking and to provide stability as you transfer the tart shell in and out of the oven.
4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the crust is no longer shiny with butter. It will continue to crisp up as it cools.
5. Keep the tart shell in the pan, cool completely, and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to fill.
From “Pieometry: Modern Tart Art and Pie Design for the Eye and the Palate” by Lauren Ko. Copyright © 2020 by Lauren Ko. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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