Tiny Test Kitchen: We Bake the OITNB Cookbook’s ‘Exploding’ Strawberry Pie
Courtesy ABRAMS Books; Morgan Gibson
Welcome back to our new column at PEOPLE.com: the Tiny Test Kitchen. Here, we test recipes from the latest and greatest cookbooks and let you know how it went. Why Tiny Test Kitchen? Because we whip up these dishes in our very own (very tiny) New York City kitchens to show you just how easy or difficult, tasty or terrible the food turns out to be.
I am a huge — correction: HUGE — Orange Is the New Black fan. I follow all of the Netflix original’s stars on Instagram, I used one of my vacation days to binge watch season 2. Point is that I jumped at the opportunity to whip up something from the show’s released-this-week Orange Is the New Black Presents: The Cookbook.
The show’s creators packed 65 recipes into the book, which is written “in character.” Each recipe comes from an inmate, prison guard or other person in the series, and most of the dishes are pulled directly from the show’s script (like Red’s Chicken Kiev and Miss Claudette’s Coconut Cake).
Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) is one of my favorite characters, so I just had to make her “exploding” pie recipe. In case you need a refresher on the reference, at the beginning of season 1 Alex (Laura Prepon) is bothering Piper (Taylor Schilling) in the cafeteria, and, to get Alex to go away, Crazy Eyes chucks her pie at her. It’s amazing, here’s a clip (warning: NSFW).
Plus, I had never made a pie before!
It’s actually an incredibly simple recipe, since it calls for pre-made crust: Make the filling, layer it in the crust, refrigerate, eat. The book even includes a homemade crust recipe in case you want to go the extra mile. I did not, but I don’t love pre-made pie crusts, so I opted for the middle of the road: refrigerated dough that I could bake myself.
The strawberry pie calls for halved and puréed berries. Just stick half of them in a blender and pulse until it makes a nice, smooth puree.
Add unsalted butter, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and then whisk in the pureed strawberries. Simmer the mixture for about four minutes until it’s a shade darker, thick and shiny.
Meanwhile, place some halved strawberries in the pie crust to make a bottom layer.
Pour the cooked mixture over the pie crust to coat. Add more halved strawberries, and then pour the rest of the mixture on to the pie. Shake it to make sure it’s all even, but careful not to break your crust! Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
Patience is a virtue.
Ta-da! I made a pie. And it was remarkably easy.
I was a little disappointed by the look of the pie. When it comes to pie, I want it to be pretty. And this just sort of reminded me of a Jell-O mold with fruit in a pie crust.
But alas, time for the taste test.
I need to not be so shallow. That strawberry pie was DELISH, and required very little effort on the baker’s part. This is an important life lesson to learn — frumpy desserts tend to end up tasting the best.
And, if we’ve learned anything from the ladies of Litchfield, it’s that you can’t judge an inmate by her uniform.
I recommend whipping up this super quick fruit dessert, plopping down on your couch and binge-watching OITNB until season 3 premieres in mid-2015. Or at least until the weekend’s over.
Crazy Eyes’s Exploding Strawberry Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
1½ quarts fresh strawberries, hulled
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into bits
One 9-inch baked pie crust, store-bought or homemade
1. Put 2 cups of the strawberries in a blender or food processor and blend until puréed. Cut the remaining strawberries in half if they are large; otherwise leave them whole.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in ½ cup water, then add the puréed strawberries, followed by the lemon juice and butter. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer; simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until thickened, slightly glossy and a shade darker.
3. Arrange 2 cups of the uncooked strawberries in the bottom of the baked pie crust and pour half of the cooked berries over them; shake the pan to evenly coat the uncooked strawberries. Arrange the remaining 2 cups uncooked strawberries on top and cover with the remaining cooked berries; shake the pan again to make an even layer. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours to set before serving (or throwing).