I’ve never liked pumpkin pie. I like pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread, but pumpkin pie is too wet and eggy for my taste, and I’d rather have apple or pecan pie, thank you. On the other hand, I love the mellow sweetness of baked winter squash (such as acorn or butternut) plain or dressed up with a little butter and even cinnamon and brown sugar. I decided I wanted to make a pie that captured that baked squash flavor but avoided getting too custard-y. In other words a pumpkin (or pumpkin-type) pie that I would love!
Since I like baked winter squash I knew I would be using butternut squash in my pie. I also had another one, new to me, that I had just tried: delicata squash. This is smaller than butternut squash and it doesn’t have such a tough skin. It is even sweeter and creamier than the delicious butternut. If you can find it, you might give it a try.
While looking at different pumpkin pie recipes online to see one I might adapt, I found this recipe for pie dough at Comfortably Domestic and the name was enough to convince me to try it: No Excuses Pie Dough. I’ve made pie crust from scratch before but I’m not a pro at it and so usually opt for the refrigerator kind that comes folded or rolled – Trader Joe’s makes one and I’ve also used Pillsbury crust.
I convinced Rem to help me with this project and we decided to spread it out over several evenings. The first evening we baked a pumpkin and a delicata squash in the oven and whipped up a batch of No Excuses Pie Dough. It was as fast and easy as the recipe said it would be. However, I kind of messed it up. More on that later.
The pumpkin was one we bought for Halloween and didn’t carve but sadly once roasted we agreed it was bland, stringy and watery. The next evening after work I came home with a butternut squash, more delicata squash and chose another (smaller) pumpkin to try.
I cooked the squash until it was very tender (the delicata was done before the other two) and let it cool enough that I could handle it. Then I scraped the flesh out of the skin and pureed it in the food processor. The pumpkin was more watery than than the other two so I let the pulp sit in a fine mesh sieve to drain a bit before I pureed it.
The recipe I adapted for my Not-Just-Pumpkin Pie has more pulp than most pumpkin pie recipes. It also has has just less heavy cream than typical pumpkin pies. Instead of two eggs it has one egg but three egg yolks. The texture is dense and creamy, and the pie is rich with a deep flavor of pumpkin and squash warmed with fresh ginger and other spices.
While the pumpkin, delicata squash and butternut squash were baking, I pulled out a disc of No Excuses Pie Dough to roll out. I’d read that blind baking or partially pre-baking pie crust when making a custard type pie was a good idea to avoid soggy or underdone crust. Since I wanted the best pie ever, I decided to include this step. Bad idea. I rolled out the dough, put it in my glass pie plate and pricked it a few times with a fork. I put it in the oven while the squash were still baking and checked it after about 4 or 5 minutes.
The dough had melted down the sides of the pie plate to the point that the sides were almost gone! All the buttery pastry had slid down into a soft puddle of dough. I grabbed it out of the oven, I mushed the melted dough part way back up the sides of the pie plate. I had a thick, creamy, lovely pie filling waiting to bake and I wasn’t going to let a little melted pie crust stop me.
It was clear that the filling was going to go higher up the sides of the dish than the crust, so I spritzed some nonstick spray on the sides of the pie plate and poured in the filling and put it in the oven with my fingers crossed. If and when I make this again, I will consider doing it in a graham cracker crust.
Adapted from Lauren Weisenthal’s recipe on Serious Eats
4 cups pureed, baked winter squash (combination of butternut, delicata and pumpkin)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger root (or 1 tsp. ground ginger)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
pinch black pepper
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the pumpkin, delicata and butternut squash, cut in half, scrape out seeds and stringy flesh. Place cut side up or down (either way works fine) on baking sheets covered with parchment paper or foil. Bake until very tender when pierced with a knife, 35 to 60 minutes. When tender let cool on pan until cool enough to handle. Scoop out insides and discard the skin. Process in Cuisinart or other food processor until all squash is pureed.
[Note: One butternut squash, two or three delicata squash and one small pumpkin will yield more cooked squash than you need for this recipe. You have several options of how to make the best of the leftovers: freeze and use later; bake a second pie; bake in custard cups; make pumpkin butter.]
Turn oven down to 350 degrees. Combine all the ingredients up to the crust, stirring with a fork until well mixed. Pour into unbaked crust and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until just barely set in center. Cool before serving.
Serve with sweetened whipped cream with a bit of vanilla extract added.
Baked in Custard Cups
I haven’t tried this but my sister and my parents enjoy baking pumpkin pie filling in custard cups so they skip the crust entirely. Make pie filling, as in recipe above, pour into custard cups up to an inch from the top. Set in baking pan and pour hot water into pan to the level of the pumpkin mixture. Bake in 350 oven 25 to 30 minutes until center is barely jiggly when custard cup is gently shaken.
However you fix this recipe – whether in a crust as a traditional pie or in custard cups, your house will smell heavenly while it is baking.
I’ll write about Pumpkin Butter in another post soon. Thanks for stopping by!