Butternut 'Pumpkin' Pie

Andy Kruse

The problem with pumpkin pie is pumpkin. Most pumpkins teeter toward tasteless. Instead, roast butternut squash and you get lush sweetness and kicks of caramel.

Adding eggs to a pie filling as the last ingredient allows you to taste the filling for flavor and balance with no concern about eating raw eggs. If you can fresh-grind whole spices for the pie, all the better. Any leftover filling can be baked with the pie for Black Friday breakfast.

This recipe is an updated version of a pie that debuted in Bon Appétit in 1979 in a piece I did about our Italian family Thanksgiving.

Pastry

  • 1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, measured by dipping the cup into the flour and leveling
  • 1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) cake flour, dipped and leveled
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (5 ounces – 1-1/4 sticks) stone-cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
  • Butter for pie pan

Filling

  • 2 small to medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 3/4 cup sugar, or to taste
  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Generous 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • About 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs, beaten

Topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 2 teaspoons sugar

Up to 3 days ahead, make the pastry in a food processor by first blending the flours, sugar and salt, then pulsing in the butter until it looks like peas. Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon ice water and drizzle over the pastry. Pulse only until dough barely gathers together (3 to 5 seconds). Wrap and chill 1 hour to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 400°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Butter a 10" shiny, roomy metal pie pan (a dark one will overcook crust and a very shallow pan makes a skimpy pie).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to about 1/8-inch thick. Gently fit it into the pan. Trim off all but a 1-inch rim hanging over the edge of the pan. Fold over the pastry so it is doubled on the pan’s rim. Pinch it together every 1/2 inch or so for a fluted crust. Chill 1 hour to overnight. Then line with foil and weights. Bake 10 minutes. Carefully remove the foil liner, with a fork pierce the crust in several places, and bake an additional 5 minutes or until dry looking. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Keep at room temperature up to 24 hours.

Roast the squash flesh-side down on an oiled cookie sheet in a 400°F oven. Bake one hour, or until a knife slips easily into the thickest part of the squash. They should be extremely tender.

Cool, then scoop out the squash and puree it completely in a food processor. You should end up with 3-1/2 to 3-3/4 cups puree.

To make the pie, have the oven at 400°F. In a food processor or a large bowl, beat together the squash, sugar, salt, spices, vanilla, pepper, sour cream and milk until smooth. Taste for sweetness and spiciness, adding more sugar and/or spices if needed. Then beat in the eggs.

Pour the filling into the baked pie shell (save any extra for baked custard). Set it on a cookie sheet to catch any spills. Bake 15 minutes then reduce heat to 325°F. Bake another 45 minutes to 1 hour. The pie is done when a knife inserted an inch or more in from the edge comes out nearly clean (the center will still be soft).

Cool the pie on a rack. Chill if you are holding it more than a couple of hours. Serve the pie at room temperature, either topped with the whipped cream or pass the cream at the table.

[More: It's not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie]

Yield: 
Makes a 10-inch pie

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