We’re all thinking about our Thanksgiving menus this week, including the important pies and desserts to please everyone around the table.
I have rarely made a pumpkin pie from scratch, and when I have (once) it did not turn out as good as my mother’s. Couple that with the fact I’m not a pumpkin pie lover, there has been little experimentation in my house, although I make one every year for those who don’t think it is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. I use the canned pumpkin with no apologies, and they are happy.
Squash pie? Pumpkin pie?
When I was going through my mother’s recipes, I found squash pie, which I remember she often made, and it tasted just like pumpkin pie. The pumpkin pie recipe? It was a recipe from the back of the pumpkin can! Her squash recipe used fresh squash.
Hmm. What did she know that it took me years to figure out? I looked up pumpkin pie recipes from some of the cookbooks from the 1930s and 40s, and they often listed “Pumpkin or Squash Pie” as one recipe. Obviously, they were used interchangeably, but it was odd that my mom made her pumpkin pie with canned pumpkin, but her squash from fresh.
Just don’t cook the Jack-o-lantern
There are a lot of stories and explanations out there in the internet whether canned pumpkin is actually squash. In the past, I’ve grown an heirloom pumpkin that looked more like butternut squash, and a squash that looked just like a pumpkin! While it doesn’t really matter since it is all the same family, the fact that the pumpkin (or squash) that is used in the canned, is not the jack-o-lantern “pie pumpkins” that we see for sale this time of year, but a different variety altogether.
Recently, I decided to make a scratch “pumpkin” pie using squash, as well as one from canned pumpkin and see what my family and friends thought. I couldn’t find the heirloom squash I was looking for, so I decided on what was available, a butternut squash. I chose the organic canned pumpkin I always use Farmers Market Foods.
A little twist, here and there
Of course, as always, I couldn’t just leave it at that; I added a few things not in my mom’s recipe, black pepper, cayenne, a little crystalized ginger to top it off. I also used my rosemary lemon pastry crust, and it worked well in this, according to the pumpkin pie lovers.
The result? The people who love pumpkin pie, loved the traditional canned pumpkin pie best. The folks, including me, who don’t, preferred the squash pie, not that it would be any of our first choice.
Plan accordingly for your holiday gathering. You might have to take a poll.
For me? I’ll be eating the lemon meringue, tart, extra meringue…
Imposter Pumpkin Pie
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
On a rimmed baking sheet place:
- 1 medium butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise
Bake for 40 minutes, or until the squash is soft.
Scoop out the flesh, puree in a food processor or blender, and reserve 2 cups for this recipe. The rest can be frozen.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350.
In a small bowl, combine:
- ½ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ginger
- ¼ tsp. cloves
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
In a large bowl, beat:
- 2 eggs
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 2 cups of squash purée
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Add the sugar mixture, and mix well.
Pour into pie plate lined with:
- 1 rosemary lemon pastry crust, or favorite recipe
Place on a baking dish, and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the pie is set except for a little jiggle in the center.
Cool for 4 hours or overnight.
- 1 tbsp. candied ginger, chopped
- Lemon zest
Serve with whipped cream if desired. Or cut yourself a slice of lemon meringue and find a corner.
My seven-year-old granddaughter made a beautiful pumpkin pie this year for Thanksgiving. She used the canned pumpkin and the traditional Libby’s recipe, with a few extra spices. She rolled out the crust, and made the leaf decorations herself! She reminded me to post this photograph here! The pumpkin pie lovers loved it!!!
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