I’m back! I had to take last week off due to the plague (ok, it was really just a cold, but I felt like I had the plague). Aside from being too weak to get up off the couch for more than 10 seconds at a time without getting exhausted, I didn’t want to feed people infected baked goods, so I didn’t bake last weekend. It felt wrong, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Sick as I was, I was getting a little overwhelmed with guilt because my mother-in-law had given me a butternut squash from her garden the weekend before and I had yet to do anything with it. Apparently it was a good squash, because it didn’t rot even though I had it for quite some time before I did anything with it, but the anxiety was building with each day that it stared at me from the kitchen counter, untouched. I resolved that this squash would be transformed into a pie (because really, is there any greater calling for an ingredient?), and as soon as I was well enough to safely maneuver a knife, a pie it became.
I decided on a custard pie because butternut squash is very similar to pumpkin in flavor, consistency, and texture, and pumpkin pie is unequivocally delicious. I used Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe (the recipe that comes on the wrapper of a can of pumpkin puree) as a starting place, since it’s my favorite recipe for pumpkin pie. Not a Thanksgiving goes by at my dad’s house without that pumpkin pie making an appearance. It is delicious as written, but I decided to make a few small changes. Obviously, the first was to replace the pumpkin puree with butternut squash puree. Second, I changed the granulated sugar to brown sugar. I debated whether or not to add some molasses as well and eventually decided against it, but were I to make this pie again, I would probably try it with the molasses. I also used refrigerated ginger paste instead of ground ginger for a little more kick, and added in a little black pepper at the suggestion of Sally’s Baking Addiction. If you are a big ginger fan, you can easily double or triple it. If not, you can stick with the half teaspoon called for, and you can also use ground ginger, which will be a little less intense. Finally, I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract, because seriously, why did this recipe not have vanilla in it to begin with?
I also decided to eschew the traditional pie crust and replace it with a crumb crust instead. I had some granola “cereal” that I didn’t end up enjoying as much as I thought I would, so I decided to grind that up and use it in place of graham crackers in my go-to graham cracker crust. I added some flour to the mixture because it was a bit wet, and I didn’t add any sugar because granola is usually sweet enough as it is. It held up nicely beneath the filling and cut beautifully, so this is something I’d definitely try again. If you don’t feel like using granola, you can easily use this graham cracker crust recipe instead (or wimp out and buy one), or stick with the traditional pie crust.
I had a little trouble spreading the crust mixture evenly onto the pie plate without cracks, so I made an extra half batch to fill up the rest. This was probably a mistake, because I ended up only being able to pour about half of the filling into it without overflowing, and my pie ended up with a granola bar on the bottom that was about as thick as the filling layer.
It still tasted good, and if you’re into the idea of custard-topped granola bars, you can certainly do the same thing. In a similar vein, this would probably work well if you filled a square baking pan with the thick crust, poured the filling on top, and cut the final product into squares. All that said, I have left the original crust proportions in the recipe so that you should be able to use the rest of the filling. If you have leftover filling, you can grease a muffin pan or some ramekins and pour the leftovers in there so that you have individual custards too.
You will need the following ingredients (sorry, no pictures this time):
For the crust:
- 2 cups granola
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
For the filling:
- 2 cups pureed butternut squash (I used one medium squash and had just a little left over)
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. ground cloves
- ⅛ tsp. black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- ½ tsp. grated fresh ginger or ginger paste (yes, you can use ground ginger instead if you prefer)
- 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
For baking ambiance:
- I wasn’t in the mood for thinking too much about anything, so I went with ELO again. Their music is happy and great for a boost of energy when you’re only working with 50% power.
Let’s get baking!
First, you will need to roast the butternut squash. It is best to do this in advance so that it has time to cool and drain, but it’s ok to do it all at once too (this is what I did). Rinse and dry the outside of the squash, then slice it in half lengthwise. I also cut it in half the other way to make it easier to work with, but this is optional. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. [You can clean and roast these seeds like pumpkin seeds (see how to do this here), or just discard them.] Arrange the squash pieces, cut side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Bake for about an hour, or until the squash is easily pierced with a fork. You may encounter some resistance going through the outer layer, but it should feel like poking into a baked potato.
Set the squash aside to cool. Meanwhile, grind your granola in a food processor until it turns into a coarse powder. If it has raisins in it, I suggest taking them out because the may burn if they’re near the edge of the crust.
Stir together the granola, melted butter, and flour until the mixture is uniform and sticks together when pressed.
Press the crust mixture evenly into a deep-dish 9″ pie plate. Try to avoid any cracks as best as possible.
Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Set aside.
By now, your squash should be cool enough to handle. Peel off the skin and the hardened layer of pulp and cut the squash into chunks. Puree the chunks in a food processor until they are smooth. This took me about 5 minutes on high with some breaks to stir.
If you’re working ahead, you can transfer the puree to a strainer lined with a coffee filter and place it in the fridge over a bowl overnight to drain. I found that my squash wasn’t too wet to work with, so I just pressed on with it as is.
Increase the oven temperature to 425°F. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and black pepper. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. The whites and yolks should be roughly combined, but not foamy.
Stir in the butternut squash puree, spiced sugar mixture, vanilla extract, and ginger paste.
Gradually, stir in the evaporated milk until smooth.
Pour the filling into the pre-baked crust. Do not overfill it. If you have extra filling, you can pour it into another pie plate, a muffin tin, or some ramekins (just be sure to grease them well first).
Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for another 40-50 minutes, or until the filling is just set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the pie cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing. Serve with whipped cream and refrigerate any leftovers.
You can download the printable PDF recipe here: Butternut Squash Pie with Granola Crust