Last weekend a perfect autumn day fell upon Jerusalem. I’m talking about sky blue perfect, the sun so bright you can’t really see anything perfect, the kind of perfect where it hurts to breathe because the air is so crisp and clear it stings. And let’s not even start on that singular autumn scent: that sharp clean smell that comes only after strong wind has swept through. That single perfect autumn day ignited in me a single-minded craving for the most autumnal of autumn pies. Food cravings don’t have borders I guess.
And so: I procured a single butternut squash and bought 50 shekels worth of spices from the spice man downstairs, a sum which brought on a mild heart palpitation but in actuality wasn’t all that much. And besides, as the spice man quipped: it’s good to invest in spices. I *also* bought a rather large bag of lavender buds so fragrant and fresh they smell like mint, which so far I’ve only used in my take on sahlav, the ‘hot chocolate’ of the Middle East, and also in a lavender pouch I put in my pillowcase to help me sleep. But I’ll save those for a later post.
Armed only with a potato masher, I managed to roast a butternut squash and mash it down to something purée-like enough to bake with. I used Smitten Kitchen’s foolproof pie crust recipe, though I cut the recipe in half as I only needed a bottom crust. Lacking a pie tin, I used a mysterious looking tin that seemed more appropriate for a cake, but no matter. The vessel was oven-proof, and that was enough for me. And the rest was, as they say: easy as pie. Happy pie making!
Old-fashioned pumpkin pie
Adapted from Simply Recipes Old Fashioned pumpkin pie
A half recipe of your favorite pie crust. I prefer Smitten Kitchen’s all butter, really flaky pie dough.
2 cups pumpkin purée from a pumpkin of your choice (I used butternut squash this time)* or canned
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I used 15% cream, which has a bit more fat-content than half-and-half, and it was excellent)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
*Note: It seems most traditional to roast sugar pumpkins when making your own purée, but you can use what you have available. This article recommends butternut squash, but as you can see, the pumpkin patch is your proverbial oyster.
Make purée from scratch
Cut a large butternut squash in half, clean out the seeds, and chop into slices. Roast on parchment lined baking sheet at 350°F (~180°C) for about an hour to an hour and half, until fork tender. Remove from oven and remove rind from pulp. Place the pulp in a food processor, and process until well puréed. Alternatively, use a potato masher. (:
Preheat oven to 425°F (~220°C).
Roll out pie crust and lay into pie pan. Combine all pie filling ingredients and pour into uncooked pie shell.
Bake at 425°F (~220°C) for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350°F (~180°C) and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or more, or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean. I didn’t have this issue but if your pie crust browns too quickly, line the edges with foil.
The original pie recipe says let the pumpkin cool for two hours. I can never wait that long myself, but if you have the patience, all power to you. Serve with whipped cream. If you can wait even longer, the pie tastes even better cold the next day. (: