Monday, April 8

Give Me Some Sugar: Lauren Mitterer

WildFlour Pastry's sticky buns. Photo by Lauren Mitterer.

In "Give Me Some Sugar," Emily Hilliard introduces us to some of the South's most talented female pastry chefs. They do right by the classics while developing a new canon of their own. Check back every Monday to meet a reason to save room for dessert. 

Who: Lauren Mitterer
Where: WildFlour Pastry, 73 Spring Street, Charleston, SC

When pastry chef Lauren Mitterer opened Charleston’s WildFlour Pastry in 2009, she set out to make a big impact with a small shop. She offered handmade baked goods for every occasion, from Sunday-morning sticky buns to fancy wedding cakes. “My vision for WildFlour was to create a place that people could come to, be part of the community, and really connect with one another through baking.”

Photo of Lauren Mitterer courtesy of the Charleston Food + Wine Festival.

A degree in studio art from the University of Virginia informs Mitterer’s appealing baked creations, from her brown-butter caramelized apples in phyllo pouches topped with caramel and aged cheddar, to cupcakes perfectly stacked with frosting almost as tall as the cake itself. While she has an eye for aesthetics, she keeps her approach to baking simple. “I try to not overthink things. Many people get so caught up in being trendy or being complicated, they miss the boat on what actually tastes good. Using real ingredients with somewhat traditional methods has always worked for me, and is what I always go back to.”

One of Mitterer's desserts for the James Beard Foundation Awards finalist announcement luncheon in Charleston this spring. Left: vanilla bean and blood orange panna cotta. Right: caramel cake with kumquat marmalade. Photo by Lauren Mitterer.

Though she’s not a native Southerner, Mitterer has lived in the region for half her life, and finds that that a Southern sense of tradition informs her work as a pastry chef. “Those traditions come from what was available at that time: pecans, peaches, bourbon, and all things that were grown, picked, or made locally. So naturally they were used and elaborated on through the years. That to me is the exciting part—to see how you can take these basic ingredients and make them into something new, without losing what they really are.”

When it comes to her favorite baked good, Mitterer also sticks to the basics: “Chocolate chip cookies are my absolute favorite. To me, they are the best of all the worlds. Actually, add ice cream—then they are the best!”