Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Butternut Squash Pie Recipe

Butternut Squash Pie Recipe

Winter squash and pumpkin can, for the most part, be used interchangeably in pies. Which is not to say that they don't have their differences. Winter squash makes a drier pie, it has more of a pale-orange color, and a milder flavor than pumpkin pie. Both go well with your traditional pumpkin pie spices, but this one uses Chinese five-spice powder, a similar mixture but with ground star anise added. Best served slightly warm, this pie offers a warm and festive note to many a cold winter night. 

Best Pastry Shell 

I've tried a fair amount of pie shells in my day: butter, cornmeal, shortening, graham cracker, oreo, you get the idea. But for your basic, flaky pie crust that's not too hard and not too soggy, I always find my way back to this shortening-based pie shell recipe. 

-1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-3/4 cup vegetable shortening
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 large egg
-1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
-2 1/2 tablespoons whole milk

1. With a pastry blender or a fork, combine flour, shortening and salt until mixture resembles coarse meal. 

2. In small bowl, mix egg, vinegar and milk; add to flour mixture, mixing only until dough holds together in a ball. If the dough is too sticky, as in sticking to the sides of the bowls and shaggy looking, add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time. If its too dry and not coming together, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time. 

3. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Butternut Squash Pie

-1 large butternut squash 
-1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
-3 large eggs, at room temperature
-3/4 cup light cream or half and half, at room temperature
-3 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

2. Cut off a little of the stem end of the squash and halve it lengthwise. Scoop the seeds out of the cavity. Place the squash flat side down on in a large, shallow oiled casserole and add just enough water to cover the bottom.

3. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until tender, bordering on mushy, about 10 minutes. This would be a good time to prepare and refrigerate your pastry shell. Transfer the squash to a plate and let cool. 

4. Roll out your pastry shell on a floured surface, turn over onto lightly buttered pie plate. Trim to a 1 inch over the rim of the pie tin. Sculpt the edge with your preferred method, I like the fluted pinched edge personally. 

5. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes. 

6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

7. To bake, prick all over with a fork. Bake at 400 degrees for 11 minutes or until lightly golden brown. 

8. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. 

9. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out 1 3/4 cups firmly packed flesh out of the skin and mash with a pastry blender, fork, masher, or food processor. Add the brown sugar, the eggs, light cream, five-spice powder, salt, flour, and vanilla and mix. Slowly pour the filling into the cooled pie shell. 

Warning: Do not be tempted, as I was, to overfill your pie shell and use all the filling. Though I still argue it was worth it-Farmer Figgins

10. Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for about 50 minutes, rotate it at 25 minutes 180 degrees, so hat the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. When the outer rim of the pie is risen and puffy, and a toothpick comes out clean, your filling is set and you can pull the pie out and let cool. You've baked it too long if the outer rim gets large cracks in it.

11. Let cool and serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Or cover with loosely tented aluminum foil, refrigerate, and serve cold. Top with whip cream. 

Fresh Whipped Cream

-1 cup heavy or whipping cream
-2-3 tablespoons confectioner's/powdered sugar, or granulated sugar, to your taste
-(optional)-a few drops of vanilla

1. Tip: to make whip cream faster, chill your beaters and a medium sized bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes before making.

2. When you're ready to make whip cream, pour the cream into the chilled bowl and beat on medium speed until the cream starts to thicken. Increase the speed and beat until the cream starts to hold soft peaks. Add the sugar and continue to beat until it is stiff but not grainy. If the peaks turn into clumps, you've beat it too much! 

3. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until use and after. To use later on, beat for 15 seconds and then add to pie. 

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