An autumn squash pie made with fresh roasted kuri squash (or your favorite pumpkin type winter squash), a not quite pumpkin spice blend of spices, and a don’t ask don’t tell one hundred percent deliciously graham cracker like honey whole wheat flaky pastry crust. Best of all this bad boy bakes up in an 8” cast iron skillet, making it (like the pan it is baked in) both smaller and sturdier than its traditional pie pan shaped cousins.
The literalist in me can’t call this pumpkin pie even though the seasonings are decidedly in the ‘pumpkin pie spice’ camp, a category that now includes everything from pasta to bed linens (I made the sheets thing up but it might be true, we live in crazy times).
About the amount of sugar in the filling
I don’t like things sweet and so between the slightly sweet crust, the ginger whipped cream (oh yes! read about that next) and the filling I found the pie too sweet so I made the second one with only 1/4 cup of each sugar instead of 1/3. That said, my testers of the first pie said the sweetness was just right for them.
Variations and possibilities
- want those little swirls in the top of the crust? set aside about a tablespoon of filling, add a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of ginger sugar, add after custard has just begun to set, about 15 minutes into baking
- speaking of ginger sugar- I combine 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger per 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Sprinkle some on the crust, add it to the whipped cream instead of regular sugar for a nice bite.
- if you want additional pie crust rolling tips here are some from Cooks Illustrated
If a honey whole wheat pie crust isn’t your thing…
What about those winter squash?
I used a combination of Kuri squash, which has a smooth rich colored flesh with a subtle nutty taste to it, and an acorn squash variation, not stringy like regular acorn squash and nicely sweet but pale in color. I was recommended the long island cheese pumpkin and I’m going to give that a go next. The squash is up to you- anything but the jack o lantern variety. I’ve used sugar pie pumpkins in the past but wasn’t that impressed, the kuri have a better color and flavor.
How you roast is up to you. I cut them in half, remove the seeds (roast those up too!!) and bake cut side down on parchment paper at 350F until the flesh is tender to the touch. I begin checking at about 30 minutes, literally poking to see if I can easily leave a mark. Sometimes I add a little water to the pan.
There will probably be more roasted squash than you need for the pies. It freezes well. Use it later for more pie or breads or pastas!
Cast Iron Winter Squash Pie with a honey whole wheat crust
For the crust
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour I’m a big fan of the bob’s red mill, you could probably use regular whole wheat for a more toothsome version, or a blend of all purpose and regular whole wheat
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons one stick butter, cut into 1/2 inch or so pieces- very cold
- 1/4 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey dissolved into
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling
- 1 cup of squash or pumpkin puree the rest can be frozen for later use
- 3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4-1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4-1/3 cup sugar vanilla sugar if you have it
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice I had some penzeys pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can make your own or substitute 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground clove, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and a pinch of nutmeg and/or allspice
- a few grinds of black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
for the crust in a food processor
- combine milk, honey, and vanilla. stir until the honey has dissolved into the milk
- combine flour, sugar, and salt (if applicable) in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and either pulse in one second burst until the butter bits are the size of petite peas.
- add the liquid portion and pulse until the mixture resembles large crumbs that are just coming together- they should form a cohesive dough if squeezed together.
- remove from food processor, shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 days
for the crust by hand
- combine flour sugar and salt in a large bowl, mix thoroughly then add the butter and either cur in with a pasty cutter or use your fingertips to mix in- once combined refrigerate or chill for about ten minutes
- while this is chilling combine the milk, honey, and vanilla, stirring until the honey is dissolved.
- add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and combine with a fork until it all just comes together
- shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 days
roll and par bake the crust
- roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. I like to fold and roll to create more layers and blend the butter in croissant style. so if the dough is still a little crumbly or sticky fear not just roll out and then use a bench scraper to fold up the dough envelope style, lightly flouring as needed to prevent sticking.
- Place the dough in the 8” cast iron skillet. Trip the rough overhangs and set those bits aside to form into decorative bits or snacks.
- re-chill the dough if necessary. line with foil and baking weights
- preheat oven to 350F
- par bake the crust for about 15 minutes and another 5 uncovered. this is when I also bake my decorative dough bits.
- take the crust out, lower the oven heat to 300F and allow the crust to cool whilst you prepare the filling
for the filling
- whisk together the cream and the squash puree until no lumps remain
- add the remaining ingredients (egg yolks, sugars, spices) and whisk until completely combined
- pour into par baked crust
bake and serve
- bake at 300F until custard is set about 50 minutes (you may need to tent tin foil over the top to prevent the edges of the crust from burning
- allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from cast iron. completely cool before serving