Butternut Squash Honey Pie

Butternut Squash Honey Pie American as apple pie is a phrase we have all heard at one point or another. Why is that? American's do consume their fair share of pie, but it is hardly an American invention. Pie is a cooking tradition that dates back to medieval Europe. During this time pie was considered to be pretty much anything that was baked in an oven and was not bread. Medieval cooks would often use leaves or clay to form a "pie crust" around a piece of meat. The original pie shells were several inches thick and not meant to be eaten, they simply served as a food preservation vehicle to protect perishable foods from air. (Clarkson)

This medieval tradition of clay pie crusts did not persist, rather it evolved with the invention of the pastry shell. A delicious edible vehicle for savory and sweet fillings. The two modern pie crusts used today are the pie pastry crust that consists of flour, water, and a fat. This crust is used for both sweet and savory pies. The other crust is a crumb crust, generally reserved for sweet desserts. A crumb shell is simply a crumbled cookie or similar baked good, which is mixed with butter then patted firmly into a pie pan. (Haedrich)

Pumpkin pie is common in the autumn, this is well deserved. However, there are over 10 types of common winter squash, and every variety can be roasted and pureed to form a unique and delicious pie filling. After picking up a gorgeous butternut squash from Bloomington's Farmers Market I knew it was destined to become part of a pie. In addition to adding unique flavors to an autumn pie, winter squashes are significantly hardier than their summer kin and can last for months at room temperature.  Buy when you see a good looking squash and don't worry too much about spoilage.

The condensed milk in my recipe is an excellent source of body and sweetness, I wanted just a little more sugar. To sweeten the filling I used honey, this decision was influenced by the nature of the squashes life. Squash plants require either North American native squash bees or old world honey bees to pollinate squash plants. (Cane) Simply put no bees means no butternut squash, no pumpkin, no zucchini, ect... So the inclusion of honey ties into the squashes life cycle.

I have a romantic ideal of the perfect a rustic pie. By that I mean something that looks simple and hand-fashioned, and full of soul. You can use a pre-made pie dough for this recipe, but it is so easy to make a fresh pastry shell, and it's visually way more appealing. An influential author of mine came up with the perfect ratio for a pie dough. A ratio of 3 parts flour 2 parts fat and 1 part water, all by weight.(Ruhlman) This ratio will come in handy every time. Chef John of Foodwishes.com also released a great video blog entry about food processor pie dough. Check the video out here

Before Oven

Butternut Squash Honey Pie

  • 2 c Butternut squash puree, roasted
  • 1 (14oz) Can of condensed milk
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 1 T Honey
  • 1 t Ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t Ground ginger
  • 1/2 t Ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t Kosher salt
  • 1 9" Pie shell (fresh or pre-made)
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Slice butternut squash in half, remove the seeds and reserve for a different use. Coat the squash with regular olive oil and roast in the pre-heated oven for 40-50 minutes.
  3. Puree squash meat, and let come to room temperature.
  4. Raise the temperature of the oven to 425F
  5. Combine all ingredients except for the pie shell in a bowl and whisk until custard consistency.
  6. Pour custard into pie shell.
  7. Cook the pie uncovered for roughly 15 minutes at 425F then change the oven temperature to 350F. The pie will take another 30-45 minutes until the custard has set. This can be tested by sticking a knife in the center of the pie, and if the knife comes out clean the custard has set.
Total Time: 2 hours

Citations and Further Readings:
  • Clarkson, Janet. Pie: A Global History. London: Reaktion Books Ltd, 2009. 18-20. Print.
  • Cane, Jim. "Squash Pollinators of the Americas Survey (SPAS)." United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. USDA, 4 Aug. 2009. Web. 3 Dec. 2014. <http://www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=16595>.
  • Haedrich, Ken. Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie. Boston: The Harvard Common Press, 2004. 26. Print.
  •  Ruhlman, Michael. Ratio. New York: Scribner, 2009. Print.
Photos by Jordan Henline