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Butternut squash pie recipe

Slice of butternut pieDo you like pumpkin pies?  If so, you're in for a treat because butternut squash pies are twice as good.  You can make pumpkin-like pies out of any kind of winter squash, but after taste-testing pie pumpkins, acorn squash, cushaw, and butternut we concluded that the last was by far superior.  That said, the recipe below can be used to create a pie out of any kind of winter squash.  You can even turn Jack-o-lanterns into pie if they haven't been sitting out for too long.

Baking a butternut squash

Step 1: Bake the butternut.  Cut your butternut squash in half (carefully!) and scoop out the seeds.  Lay the two halves, cut side down, on a cookie sheet and bake until the skin begins to blacken and the flesh is very tender.  You can bake the squash at just about any temperature, so I try to plan this step to coincide with my other baking needs, such as pizza night.
Mash the butternut
Step 2: Process the butternut.  Cool the butternut and peel off and discard the skin.  Then mash up the flesh with a potato masher (or just with the back of your spoon.)  Measure out two cups of flesh, which will equal one medium butternut, half of a large butternut, or two small buttercups.  I don't worry too much if my butternut is a quarter of a cup too large or too small --- I throw it all in.

Pat in the pan pie crustStep 3: Make your crust.  I'm lazy, so I've settled on a quick and easy, pat-in-the-pan recipe.  I throw 1 cup of white flour, 0.5 tsp of salt, and 7 tablespoons of cold butter in the food processor and blend until the butter is cut into coarse pieces.  After adding two tablespoons of cold water and blending a bit more, the dough generally starts to stick together --- depending on your humidity, you might need to add more or less water.  Pour the dough into the bottom of your pan and press it into place.  Then put the pan in the fridge to stay cool while you make the pie filling.  (I like to make our pies in a cake pan to leave room for more filling.)

Nutritional information for butternut squash pieStep 4: Mix up the pie filling.  Combine 2 cups of baked butternut squash from step 2, 1.5 cups of evaporated milk or rich cream, 0.25 cups of brown sugar, 0.5 cups of white sugar, 0.5 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 0.5 tsp of ginger, 0.25 tsp of allspice, and 2 eggs.  Blend well.  (I seldom have evaporated milk or cream on hand, so I substitute a concoction of powdered milk and water --- fill a cup with milk powder and slowly add water, stirring, until the cup is full of liquid, then repeat with a half cup measurer.  The nutritional information reflects the extra protein from using powdered milk rather than cream.)

Step 5: Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 425 F for 15 minutes, then at 350 F for about 30 minutes.  This combination of temperatures just happens to work quite well for baking a chicken as well, so once again you can double up your oven time.

Cutting a butternut pieStep 6: Cool completely before eating.  I usually ignore this admonition, but with butternut pies, the spices really do meld and taste better once the pie is thoroughly chilled.

These pies are the reason Mark became so obsessed with making sure we have plenty of butternut squash on hand.  Although no dessert is precisely good for you, the hefty dose of protein and vitamins found in an eighth of this butternut pie make me feel better about baking one every week.

Ditch dirty water with our homemade chicken waterer.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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This sounds and looks really yummy. I'm not sure I've ever seen butternut squash around here, though.

There's a variant on the spices you've used that's very popular here in so-called "speculaas" (translates as "brown spiced biscuit"). I think it might work quite well in this pie (quantities are just for proportion);

  • 3.5 parts grated cinnamon
  • 1 part ground clove
  • 1 part grated ginger (or powder)
  • 1 part ground white pepper
  • 1.5 part ground anise seed
  • 1 part ground nutmeg
  • 1 part ground allspice (pimento)
  • 1 part grated orange peel (can be fresh or dried)
Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Sep 13 16:54:13 2010

What kinds of winter squashes do they sell over there? (If any...)

Your speculaas sound a bit like ginger snaps (a kind of hard, spicey cookie, aka "biscuit.") Some folks do put cloves in pumpkin pies, but I think they're far too strong. I'll bet your spice list would make a spice-lover happy, though!

Comment by anna Mon Sep 13 17:36:29 2010

I've seen the odd pumpkin, but generally only in ethnic food stores. Not sure why. They are becoming more common, though.

Other none-native vegetables like bell peppers and tomatoes are quite popular here and are frequently grown here in glasshouses. And of course potatoes (which are more or less our staple food) aren't native to Europe either!

Since there can be multiple and very different looking cultivars in the same species, I find plant namings quite confusing. For instance, the cucurbita moschata is known here as the "muskaatpompoen" (nutmeg pumpkin) when it's round, but as the "flespompoen" (bottle pumpkin) when it's elongated in shape, and the latter looks to be what you call a butternut squash. Count me confused!

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Sep 13 18:03:49 2010

I never considered a pumpkin ethnic food. Although, to be fair, I don't think that most Americans actually know how to cook one --- we eat our traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie either straight from the store or made "from scratch" out of canned pumpkin. I can't imagine why winter squashes haven't become a more prominent food in peoples' diets, though --- they're delicious and so good for you!

The problem with scientific names for cucurbits (squashes, cucumbers, etc.), is that a lot of very different varieties are all in the same species. We've done so much breeding from the ancestral plant, that it's a bit like broccoli, cabbage, and collards --- if I told you their scientific name, I'm sure you'd rather have the common name so that you'd know what I was talking about. You did guess the scientific name right, though. :-)

Comment by anna Mon Sep 13 19:28:55 2010

Well, often I don't have a clue as to the Dutch name for the plants or vegetables you mention. So I look up the scientific (latin) name on the English wikipedia, and use that to search for the Dutch name on the Dutch wikipedia. :-) Works quite well.

The same goes for wood, which interests me as an engineering material. There are sometimes many different names for one kind of wood. And the other way around, one name can be used for several totally different species, like e.g. ironwood (which I associate with lignum vitae).

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Sep 13 19:43:42 2010
Yup, ironwood was actually the plant that tempted me to start memorizing scientific names. We have two different trees sometimes given that same scientific name just in my backyard...
Comment by anna Mon Sep 13 20:25:27 2010
Mark asked for a chocolate crust on our most recent pie, and it turned out quite well! I made it the same as the one above, but substituted cocoa for half the flour and added in 1/4 c. of sugar. So --- 0.5 c. flour, 0.5 c. cocoa, 0.25 c. sugar, 0.5 tsp salt, 7 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp water. Yum! Only barely sweet, but the filling added any sweetness it needed.
Comment by anna Tue Sep 14 08:22:27 2010

(I know it's a bit silly to keep making comments on my own post, but it's how I keep track of recipe changes...)

Since we've got gobs of honey from our bees, I thought I'd see how the pie does as a sugar-free dessert. Deleting both types of sugar and adding a half a cup of honey to the filling made a pie that tasted even better than the original, especially if you take it out a bit prematurely.

I had less luck using honey in the chocolate crust --- stick to sugar there!

Comment by anna Wed Nov 24 16:49:54 2010

Anna, from this blog I see that you have a scientific bent. I thought you might be interested in this article from the NYT about the advantages of baking using a digital scale. I'm an American transplant to Canada, and I'm making your butternut squash pie recipe for Canadian Thanksgiving! I'll reserve the pumpkin pie for next month :)

Comment by Cameron Mon Oct 10 08:38:36 2011
That's a very good argument for using scales. I have to admit, though, that after I use a recipe once, I rarely follow it to the letter again, so measuring utensils don't make that large of an impact on my cooking. (My method does make it tougher to write down recipes for the blog, though. I have to cook something several times to figure out how to repeat what I did the first time! Mark doesn't seem to mind when the recipe involves chocolate, though.... :-) )
Comment by anna Mon Oct 10 15:18:19 2011
It was sooooo good! I noticed a huge difference eating it at room temperature and eating it cold though. At room temp it seemed pretty sweet, but when it came out of the fridge today that sweetness wasn't really there. I think that I'm going to replace the pumpkin with butternut, it's tastier and easier- pretty good combo.
Comment by Cameron Tue Oct 11 16:47:43 2011
I'm one of the worst offenders of eating foods without any mandatory waiting periods, but we always let our butternut pies cool completely before cutting into them. They seem to be most tasty about 24 hours after baking. So good I want one now! :-) I'm glad you tried the recipe and enjoyed it.
Comment by anna Tue Oct 11 19:47:29 2011

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