If you’re accustomed to roasting a winter squash and then scooping out the soft flesh to make soup, then you can create a pumpkin pie easily without canned pumpkin. You can roast the squash and let it cool while you’re working on the crust. I won’t lie; making an entire pie from scratch can take some time, but it gets easier with time.
The best thing about using fresh winter squash instead of the canned puree is variety of flavors. In my opinion, just about every other type of winter squash is better for pie-making than classic round pumpkins. Butternut, acorn, kabocha (the nutty Japanese variety), and most any other deep orange-fleshed squash works beautifully. Actual pumpkins tend to be fairly watery and stringy once cooked. For this pie, I used a carnival squash that had been adorning my apartment since the beginning of October — it had green and white speckles on orange skin, and looked a bit like a fireworks display.
In the end, no one could tell what type of “pumpkin” I’d used in my pie, least of all that I had salvaged my Halloween decoration for this dessert. With a bit of caramelization, that roasted squash tasted much better than the average can o’ pumpkin mush, and required less sugar than most recipes, too.
Winter squash pie
Makes one nine-inch pie.
3-4 lbs winter squash (such as butternut, acorn, kabocha, hubbard, delicata, carnival, etc., just not spaghetti squash.)
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
For the crust:
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
about 2 tablespoons cold water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and place the squash cut side down. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the tops of the squash give when pressed. Turn the squash pieces over and let them cool until you’re comfortable handling them.
Meanwhile, make the crust: Combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes. Using a pastry blender, your fingers, or a food processor, cut the butter into the flour. If using the food processor, pulse several times until the pieces of butter are no larger than a pea. If using your hands, smush the butter between your fingers several times in the bowl with the flour. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. Add water one tablespoon at a time and stop when the dough is malleable enough to form a ball. (If using food processor, slowly add water one tablespoon at a time to the mixture while pulsing it just until a ball is formed). Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes. Roll it out onto parchment paper into a large round, and carefully place in a nine-inch pie pan. Arrange the pastry into the pan and crimp the edges.
Scoop out the squash flesh from the skins with a spoon. Mash well with a fork (or a blender if you prefer a very smooth pie filling). Beat the eggs with the sugar and combine in a bowl with the cream and mashed squash. Stir in the spices. Pour the filling into the prepared pie pan with the pastry. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.