We’ve been on a squash kick lately, and this post is no exception. Squash is taking over the blog! (But not for long, the 22lbs of chocolate sitting on the counter will have its day very soon.)
The truth is that butternut squash is so interchangeable with pumpkin that you could take any recipe that calls for pumpkin and swap it with pureed butternut squash instead. Yes, it’s that simple and a medium squash costs about the same as a can of pumpkin. Really.
This is a 3rd generation recipe, and I suspect it goes back much farther than that. My mamaw (that’s grandma to y’all) has always made it for the holidays, as does my Dad and he passed it down to me. Someday I’ll pass it along to my kids too.
Mamaw made butternut squash pie because squash is what grew in the garden, so it was used instead of pumpkin. You make what you grow. That’s how it always went. (You can see where I get my habits from.)
She would always ask me what kind of pie I would like (for my birthday, which always lands next to or on Thanksgiving) and it always made me feel special because it meant I got to choose one of the holiday pies. I’d always ask for this, or apple pie, or both if I could get away with it.
(And we all know that grandmas make the best pie, but it’s not just the food or they way they cook it; the real ingredient is the love that goes into making it. There’s something uniquely special about a pie made by grandma.)
The first time I ever made this pie by myself, I had to call my dad to double check the recipe (and I quote “look at the side of an evaporated milk can, then improvise”) as well as how to tell when it’s finished (ye olde butter knife trick, see the recipe).
Later on, I also learned the importance of paying attention to your spices. This came from an incident a few years ago at a friend’s house where I grabbed nutmeg instead of cinnamon. All I will say is that your pie should never, ever taste like over-spiced soap (oh, it was awful!).
Then I learned not to be afraid of making homemade pie crust. I used to always go with refrigerated or frozen until one day I waited until last minute and the local stores were sold completely out of premade crust. That’s when I found out making pie crust actually is not hard or scary. Sure, it can take about 30 minutes, but using a couple of simple tricks made it painless.
Now I like to experiment a bit with the crust, adding extras or swapping around the butter to lard ratio (yes, lard, vegetable shortening can bite me). For this pie, I went with half whole wheat pastry flour, half all purpose, some cinnamon and ground hazelnuts. It turned out to be an excellent combination!
As a side note, maybe someday I’ll also remember to buy a crust guard thing and not have to resort to aluminum foil to prevent the outer edges from burning… someday.
Of course, the worst part about any pie is waiting for it to cool off enough to eat it, but in the end the pie was wonderful, crust and all.
I say “was” because a quarter of it was already eaten (including a slice for breakfast this morning) and there is no way it will to make it to Thanksgiving. Guess I’ll have to make another.
Oh no, more pie! Whatever will I do?
Butternut Squash Pie
- 2 cups (16 oz) pureed butternut squash
- 2 large eggs
- 1 can Fat Free Evaporated Milk
- 3/4 to 1 cup sugar or sugar substitute (to taste)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Whipped cream
- Extra cinnamon or cloves for sprinkling
- 1 unbaked deep dish pie crust
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 425°F.
Step 3: In a small mixing bowl, blend together the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt then slowly add this to the liquid ingredients, mixing it the entire time. Blend it completely, dissolving all the sugar. When you’re done, you should have a smooth, liquid mixture. It will not thicken until you cook it.
Step 4: Pour the mixture into your unbaked deep dish pie crust. You will want to fill the crust to 1/4” below the edge. If you fluted your pie, fill it 1/4” below the fluting. Filling it too little means not enough pie, filling it too much means bubbling over the edges. Very carefully carry your pie to the oven and place it on the center rack.
Step 5: Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and cook for another 45-55 minutes. Your pie will be done when you can take a butter knife and stick it into the middle of the pie and it comes out completely clean. When you remove the pie, it might jiggle a bit – this doesn’t mean it is not done. Trust the knife, don’t overcook!
A note about pie crust: Edges love to burn. Cover them with a crust cover (~$5) or use aluminum foil to do the same thing. I usually do this right away, if you forget, no worries, use an empty pie pan for a pattern to form the foil, open the oven and do it mid-bake, just cook the pie 2-3 minutes longer than you would otherwise.
No one enjoys burnt edges!
Step 6: Remove from the oven and let the pie cool on a wire rack for a minimum of 2 hours (I generally go for three) before you either serve or refrigerate.
The pie is good served at room temperature but also wonderful served cold, right from the fridge.
Serve with a dollop whipped cream that’s been lightly sprinkled with a bit of spice.
Refrigerate any leftovers.
Yield: 8-12 slices, depending on how you cut it.
Hazelnut Pie Crust
- 1/4 cup finely ground hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup each all-purpose & whole wheat pastry flour OR 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup lard (or vegetable shortening)
- 1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
Step 1: Using a food processor or blender, add the hazelnuts and powdered sugar and then grind until the hazelnuts are finely chopped, almost flour consistency. This should take 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Step 2: Add in the flour, salt and cinnamon (optional) and pulse a few times to mix all the dry ingredients together.
Step 3: If using a food processor, then add in your lard/shortening and butter, pulse again until the mixture resembles coarse meal. If not using a food processor, transfer ingredients to a medium mixing bowl and cut in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Step 4: Add the egg yolk and cold water, again either pulsing or tossing the mixture with a fork until it is moist. If it’s a little dry, add a tsp of cold water at a time. If it’s a little moist, do the same with flour. If using whole wheat pastry flour & nuts, the dough will be a bit darker than your standard pie crust.
Step 5: Lay down two overlapping sheets of plastic wrap on top of a pastry mat or a large cutting board, you want to overlap them so that you get at least 14” of covered space, height and width. Roll your crust gently into a ball and then place it onto the plastic wrap, then pat it down to a 4” circle. Lay two more sheets of plastic wrap over the ball and then roll it all out into a 12” circle. If this takes a couple tries to properly roll out it’s ok, that’s normal.
Step 6: Take the dough, plastic wrap, mat/cutting board and all and stick it into the freezer for about 5-7 minutes. Not TOO long or it’ll get too solid and you’ll have to wait for it to warm up to work with it. Just enough time to let it solidify a bit so it doesn’t flop all over the place.
Step 7: Remove the dough from the freezer and let it stand about a minute to become pliable again. Then remove the top sheets of plastic wrap, they should come off super easy. Fit the dough, remaining plastic wrap side up, into a 9” deep dish pie plate that has been coated with cooking spray, allowing it to extend of the top edges.
I can’t for the life of me make a proper fluted edge without adding it separately, so I end up rolling long little pieces and sticking them on the top edge then making them fluted and pretty. You can do exactly the same thing, no one will notice once it’s baked.
Step 9: Place pie crust back into freezer until ready to use.
- Pumpkin works too, you should know this if you read the very first part of the post. (I still say be adventurous, go for the squash instead.)
- Yes, you can add more spice, however be careful. And don’t grab nutmeg instead of cinnamon. Ever.
- You can omit the hazelnuts if you are allergic to nuts, or swap them for pecans. I’ve used pecans before and both work really well.
- Ok, fine, if you keep kosher, use vegetable shortening or all butter in the pie crust… I still sing the praises of lard.
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