Five-spice winter squash pie

I suppose I was feeling a little ambitious for my first American Thanksgiving and decided to make 2 pies for our dinner party. One, pumpkin pie, I’d made several times before and wasn’t too concerned about. The other was a recipe for five-spice winter squash pie that I’d been looking to try for some time. The prevalence and relative inexpensiveness of winter squash made it necessary for us to use fresh squash. Butternut and delicata squash are comparatively more manageable to roast and scoop out than pumpkins. Plus, two pies never hurt anyone.

Recipe

from Pie

1 large butternut squash & 2 large delicata squash (or 1 15oz can of squash puree)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup light cream, room temperature
2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pie pastry dough, single crust, refrigerated
whipped cream for garnish

If using fresh squash, preheat oven to 400 F. Cut off a little of the stem end of the squash and halve it lengthwise. Scoop seeds out of the cavity. Place the squash flat side down in a large, shallow oiled casserole and add just enough water to cover the bottom. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for about 50 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until squash is very tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Roll out pie dough into a 13″ circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert pastry over a 9-1/2″ deep-dish pie pan. Gently tuck pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge so it is just slightly higher than the rim. Place in freezer for 15 minutes, then partially pre-bake the pie shell. Use aluminum foil and center over pie shell, tucking the foil into the pie shell. Bottom edge and sides should be well-defined. Pour in enough dried beans or rice to reach the top of the pan. Bake in a 400 F oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the foil and weights. Prick the pastry with a fork all over the bottom. Lower the temperature to 375 F and continue to bake for another 10-12 minutes. Should just be starting to brown, ever so slightly. Remove from oven and let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, spoon 1-3/4 cups firmly packed flesh out of the skin and put it in a food processor with the brown sugar. Process briefly until smooth. Add eggs, cream, five-spice powder, salt, flour and vanilla and process briefly. Slowly pour the filling into the cooled pie shell. Place pie on center rack and bake for about 50 minutes, rotating pie 180 degrees halfway through baking. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Or cover with loosely tented aluminum foil, refrigerate and serve cold. Garnish with whipped cream.

Musings

I have not yet mastered the art of pre-baking, likely because I was a little stingy in my filling with rice (as I didn’t fill up to the top of the pie), so my crust was a little bit feeble-looking. Also, I think I let the filling rise and puff up a little too much because it did develop a few cracks. Other than these aesthetic considerations, the pie was a success and actually the preferred pie of choice for our dinner guests. David commented that it was remarkably creamy, and the five-spices were a different take on the standard spices used for pumpkin pie. A delicious addition to our holiday repertoire!

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