Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Butterface Butternut Squash Pie

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I have mixed childhood memories. I remember carefully making little place cards for every family member’s spot at the table, singing songs about the many things I was thankful for, and having terrifying nightmares for weeks about the electric saw my dad used to slice the turkey.

I was always under the impression that I was super helpful to my mom in the kitchen, but I now suspect that I invented those memories. That’s because I actually have no idea how to prepare any Thanksgiving dish. So if I was in the kitchen at all in years past, I must have been just standing there zoning out or something.

My utter lack of Thanksgiving-preparation knowledge started to worry me when it was decided that David and I would be in charge of pies and wine this year. Wine, no problem. Pies… problem.

My first thought was to just purchase the pies from Simply Pies here in Santa Barbara. Apparently, that was everyone else’s first thought, too, and they had their first thoughts first. Other than making a mental note to have more first thoughts first, there was nothing I could do.

Simply Pies uses only locally produced fruits and vegetables in their pies, and they purchase all their other ingredients (like eggs, milk, and flour) from local co-ops. Lucky for me, one of those local co-ops, the Isla Vista Food Co-op, sells Simply Pies vegan pie crusts. Starting out with a pre-made pie crust made the whole task considerably less daunting.

Butternut Squash Pie

1 medium butternut squash from Jose Alcantar Garcia in Oxnard (distance from me: 37 miles)
Vegan pie crust from Simply Pies
1 cup light brown sugar
3 brown eggs from Chino Valley Ranchers in Arcadia (distance from me: 106 miles)
¾ cup evaporated milk
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons non-bleached flour
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Anyone who knows me knows that I am terrified of butternut squash. The last time I tried to chop up a butternut squash, I ended up with squash and seeds all over the kitchen and Band-aids on at least two fingers.

So I did some research before attacking the squash this time, and it turns out that if you stick the squash in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes and then let it cool completely, the skin peels right off and it’s very easy to cut up:
The naked butternut squash
After roasting in the oven, the squash was really squashy (!). I put it in a mixing bowl with the brown sugar and beat it together by hand. All the recipes I found online suggested using a power mixer but I don’t own one. So I came to terms with the idea of having slightly chunky pie and went medieval on that squash with a fork.

So what if the pie wouldn’t look pretty? It would just be like one of those unfortunate girls with beautiful bodies but unattractive faces, whom immature guys sometimes call "Butterfaces" ("She's got a great body, but her face..."). To those guys, I always say that it's better to be a butterface than a jerkface. And this pie was certainly not a jerkface.

Having come to terms with the aesthetic shortcomings of my pie, I blended in all the other ingredients, like so:

I poured the lumpy mixture into the Simply Pies crust and popped it in the oven. I had some batter left over, so I decided to make mini, crust-less pies in a muffin tin:

I did retain one thing from helping my mom with pies as a little girl: after about a half hour, you need to pull out the pie and wrap the crust in a loose layer of aluminum foil, so it doesn’t burn. I managed to complete this task without burning myself, which I count as a small victory.

After another ten minutes (45 minutes total), I pulled the pie out of the oven to cool. I haven’t eaten the pie itself yet, of course, but the mini, crust-less pie-muffin things are totally gone. They were wonderful.

It ended up not mattering that the batter was slightly lumpy – the lumps went away in the oven, and the end result has a smooth, creamy texture and that delicious, autumnal butternut squash taste.


  1. Hm...I have a half butternut squash in the fridge. This pie could be in my future. But probably the crustless version unless my some miracle I can find ready made pie crusts here in the CR... Looks yummy! Happy Thanksgiving :)

    1. Well I bet you could make a pretty good pie crust from scratch, you Martha Stewart, you!

  2. Yummay!!! I'm inspired to make my own pie now. I'll try to save some of my Paula Deen pumpkin pie for you to try. ;)