Fun as Pie
Pie Slayer conquers a traditional dessert with creative flavors
LAUREN WRIGHT and KEALA YU met while working at Salt + Charm and quickly bonded over sugar – and Iceland. After both bakers traveled to Iceland, they fell in love with a banana-flavored marshmallow dipped in chocolate. Yu returned with the candy, and they decided to make a pie with it. The result was Banana Stranger, a pie layered with dark chocolate brownie, roasted banana pastry cream, and salted marshmallow meringue, all nestled into a flaky buttermilk crust and topped with more dark chocolate.
“It spiraled from there,” Wright says. The duo launched Pie Slayer, a local micro-bakery, and continued their twist on an American tradition by combining nontraditional flavors. Pie Slayer took lemon meringue to the next level by pairing a lemon and yuzu filling with elderflower meringue. Cola-infused mascarpone adds a fun layer of flavor to their tiramisu. A spicy, sweet, and salty galette is filled with spiced apples, fresh ginger, gochujang (a red chili paste) caramel, puffed rice, and oat crumble.
When dreaming up new concoctions, Wright and Yu rely on a lot of trial and error to create unique confections that hit all the right notes. “Nothing is off limits,” Wright says. “One of us will have an idea and we just spiral and it ends up being magical,” Yu adds. “We like the same flavors and foods, so we go back and forth about what could work well. And as we get to know our brand more, we keep asking ourselves, ‘How do we take a regular pie and make it insane?’”
The thrill of executing an unexpected combination of tastes and textures keeps the venture fresh for Wright and Yu. “That’s what’s fun about pie,” Wright says. “It’s just a plate and you can fill it with whatever you want.” Yu adds, “Once you have a good crust!” Years of experience in the culinary field helped Yu perfect a fluffy, flaky base. The key is a lot of butter and buttermilk instead of water.
Wright and Yu hosted their first pop-up in February 2023 and their popularity quickly grew. “We thought we’d work our jobs, do this for fun, and see how it went,” Wright says. “We didn’t anticipate needing a kitchen space. It became a lot bigger and faster than we thought.” In the spring of 2023, they began renting a commissary kitchen at manna provisions (129 Princess Street). Pie Slayer recently started providing wholesale baked goods to coffee shops and hopes to expand to serving restaurants. As Wright and Yu look to the future, they hope to remain a made-to-order micro-bakery, but in their own kitchen, with a retail space.
For home bakers who want to experiment with new flavor combinations or improve homemade pastries, Wright and Yu emphasize the importance of cold ingredients. “Keep your butter cold, your dough cold, your liquids cold. That’s the most important thing to know,” they say. As for flavors, if it sounds good to you, just do it. “Even if it doesn’t work, you tried it,” Wright says. “Baking is hard and you’re going to mess up,” Yu adds. “Learn from it and change how you do it next time. But, when it works, it’s worth it.”
To view more of photographer Logan Burke’s work, go to LoganBurkePhoto.com
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