Butternut Squash Pie
As up-to-date and as current as blogs try to be, they’re always a little bit dated, aren’t they? Case and point: me posting about a pie I made for Thanksgiving a week ago. Now, I suppose I could have posted about it the day after Thanksgiving, to make it seem a little more current. Or! Better yet, I could have made a test pie ahead of time and posted about it. But as much as I appreciate the blogs that do that, I’m not sure I could or would even want to aspire to do that around here. If me reading Jane Eyre all through Thanksgiving break (and thereby forcing myself to sift through a pile of work on my return to school) causes me to post about a pie a week later than I ought to, then so be it.
With that long-winded introduction taken care of, I present butternut squash pie. Spiced, silky-smooth, creamy butternut squash pie. It may have been my biggest accomplishment over my Thanksgiving. Which, granted, is not exactly saying much seeing as I did absolutely nothing besides laze around and eat, but bear with me. It is a pie to remember, and keep for the future. If I were a better and more disciplined person I would promise myself that I’d make it again, before the next Thanksgiving comes around. It really is that good–the type of pie you shouldn’t need a holiday to eat. (Luisa says as much in her post, where I found this recipe.)
This pie is a little different, but that’s the best part about it. I have nothing against pumpkin pie, but this one tastes a little more special, a little more decadent. The flavor is both lighter and creamier, which along with the spices give it almost an eggnog custard-like taste. (I don’t like eggnog too much, by the way, but the custard-like taste is perfect here.) It does take a bit more effort than the usual pumpkin pie, though, but most of it is just in waiting time as the squash roasts and caramelizes. I’d say it’s a fair trade-off: a little bit more work to roast the squash yourself, but in return the squash rewards you for the time and love and care and gives you its silky, creamy, nutty flesh.
Anyway, I know it’s a little much to demand that everyone start making squash pies all winter long, instead of just on one day of the year. I can’t decide which I prefer: to have pumpkin/squash pie hold something of a sacred status whose rarity makes it taste extra good and special when we finally do have in on Thanksgiving, or to make it throughout squash season as a regular dessert. If you’re of the latter opinion, this is a fun pie to try sometime before the end of the season. And well, if you’re of the former camp and think that squash pie had its place among the theoretical happy Pilgrim and Native American feast scene and that’s where squash pie shall remain, then it’s never too early to start planning for next year’s Thanksgiving… joking. Please don’t. (Need I repeat my first paragraph/rant about being proud of how much of an underachiever I can be?) But when that time of year comes around again, you’d be wise to keep this recipe in mind.
One Year Ago: Potato-Buttermilk Dinner Rolls (I passed these up this Thanksgiving for a try at Parker House rolls. Pure heaven. I’ll try to make them again and blog about them soon.)
Butternut Squash Pie
Adapted from Kay Rentschler of the LA Times via The Wednesday Chef
Makes 1 9-inch pie
You’ll probably have both a little extra squash puree and pie filling. For both things, I’m sure you can manage some way to use the leftovers (ahem, see photo following the recipe).
1 single crust pie dough round, chilled
1 3-4 pound butternut squash
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
To make the butternut squash puree, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed sheetpan with aluminum foil. Trim off the stem from the top of the squash, and then cut through the squash horizontally where the bulb begins. Reserve bulb for another use–you’ll just want to roast the stem for this. Cut squash neck in two lengthwise. Place on lined sheetpan and drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil; spread to coat. Bake, turning occasionally, until the squash is tender and beginning to caramelize, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool slightly, trim the skin away with a paring knife, and puree the flesh using either a food mill or a food processor. Use immediately in pie or store in a plastic container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To prepare the crust, see attached link, or use your own favorite recipe. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the pie dough into a 14-inch round on a lightly floured work surface. Carefully transfer rolled pie dough into a 9-inch pie pan, and trim and crimp the edges. Place in the freezer to firm for 30 minutes. Once chilled, line the pie pan with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove the foil and the weights and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork to prevent bubbles, and bake for about 5 minutes more or until the crust is flaky-looking and golden. Once removed from the oven, reduce the oven down to 350 degrees F.
While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. Process the eggs and yolks, vanilla, sugars, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in a food processor until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups of reserved squash puree (you probably will have some puree left over) and process until smooth, about another 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides. With the machine running, pour in the heavy cream in a steady stream and process until combined. Pour the filling into the hot pre-baked pie shell (as mentioned above, you may have a little extra filling). Bake until the filling is set and the center doesn’t jiggle, about 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool to room temperature on a rack. Serve with whipped cream.
As mentioned above in the recipe, you might have a little leftover filling that just can’t fit into the pie. Consider it a surprise treat, cook it in a ramekin or individual serving dish alongside the pie (just take it out early, after about 30 or 40 minutes), and enjoy as the best kind of afternoon snack a baker can ask for.