| by Marcie Cuff |
Ahh! The air has a sudden new crispness. As the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, we find ourselves straddling the line between fall and winter. That tiny respite between hot-tempered seasons. An ending, a new beginning. An energizing breath of fresh air. October.
If you are like me, you spend the majority of October devouring anything within the squash family—acorn, sweet dumpling, buttercup, kabocha, red hubbard, sugar pumpkin—Ooo! So many! These climbing annual squash-y plants (Curcurbita is the fancy name for them. It’s Latin for “gourd”), know they cannot hide from me. I will somehow find them. And, if you know me, you will know that my all-time favorite go-to October food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is, well, pumpkin pie. Cardamom, crystallized ginger, five-spiced powder, coconut milk—I’ve heard that all can do wonders for a homemade pumpkin pie. But, I stick with a few simple ingredients that I have on hand for my pies—flour, butter, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg—and I opt to do something a bit revolutionary. I swap out the canned pumpkin for fresh roasted butternut squash. The result: a sweeter, fresher, silkier pie—so good you’ll have not one, but two slices.
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp salt
10 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs ice water
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large, refrigerated bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter only until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Don’t overwork the dough. Shape dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour. Unwrap the dough disk and roll out on a lightly floured surface. Invert over 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Ease dough into pan bottom and corners. Prick crust all over with a fork. Refrigerate for ½ hour. Cover crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (you can use dry beans for this instead). Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pie weights (or beans) and foil and bake another 5 minutes, until golden and lightly crisp. Cool on rack.
3-pound butternut squash
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
1 pinch each of ground ginger, cloves, allspice and salt
Lightly oil rimmed baking sheet. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Roast at 400 degrees, cut side down, until squash is tender (about 45 minutes). Scrape the pumpkin flesh off the skin with a large spoon. Puree in food processor or blender until smooth. Let cool.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. In large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and add to pureed squash. Stir until combined. Pour mixture into the par-baked Flaky Buttery Crust and transfer onto baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden, up to 1 hour. Cool completely. Serve with a huge dollop of fresh whipped cream. Ultimately, it’s a “pumpkin” pie spiced just right. And, those pumpkin pie purists out there can skip it—in the end, they’d just be leaving more pie for the rest of us.
Marcie Cuff lives in Irvington and is the author of the book “This Book Was a Tree”(Perigee Books). For more hands-on projects like this, look for her book at any bookstore, or visit her blog Mossy at http://mossymossy.com.