My favorite part about Thanksgiving is the desserts. Pumpkin pie and pecan pie are my favorites, but squash pie is my personal specialty. However, all these Thanksgiving pies are very much American specialties. You can’t really find pie as popular anywhere else in the world.
The American pilgrims didn’t automatically think to make pies out of native squashes and pumpkins. They were more apt to eat meat pies for a main dish and custards for dessert, the tradition in Europe. But because of scarcity, they had to use the plentiful crops for something. Some bright individual combined pumpkins, pie and custard and came up with the basic recipe we follow today. I sincerely thank that individual.
A pumpkin, afer all, is just a big squash. But I prefer the more mellow flavor of acorn or butternut squash to pumpkin. Sometimes I steam or roast them for this recipe, but canned squash or pumpkin works perfectly well. It’s the only time I use canned pumpkin all year.
This recipe is quick and easy. The squash custard is whipped in one bowl. You don’t even need a mixer. Honey gives it a deeper, richer flavor. And this once, skip the frozen pie crust. This cornmeal crust makes the pie much more unique. Just top it with a little fresh whipped cream.
Squash and Honey Pie
5 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 (14.5-ounce) can squash or pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Cornmeal crust (see recipe)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl using a whisk, beat together eggs and cream. Add squash puree, honey, salt and spices; beat to combine.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pie dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Carefully lay dough into a 10-inch pie pan. Press dough into the sides. Remove excess dough with a knife. Crimp the edge using your thumb and forefingers.
Pour squash custard into pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes to crisp the crust. Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake until custard is set and puffed, but not cracked, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. A skewer inserted into the center should come out clean. Cool completely. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Yield: 8 to 10 slices
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Mix together with a whisk to aerate. Add butter and work with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.
In a small bowl, beat together egg yolk and 3 tablespoons ice water. Drizzle liquid mixture into dry ingredients. Mix until dough comes together. If too dry, 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water can be added.
Form the dough into a flat disc and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour before rolling.