Pumpkin usually steals all the glory in autumn recipes, but for this recipe any great baking squash gets the chance to shine in this glorious harvest pie. It’s light, easy, and full of those familiar, cozy spices.
Pumpkin Pie is usually one of those things I look forward to every autumn. It’s all about the nostalgia; those iconic tastes of the season. The question is: when is too soon to make one? Is October too soon? How about September? For me, it’s mostly determined by when I can get my hands on fresh pumpkins. Or better yet… fresh baking squash.
I love baking pies with fresh pumpkins or squash I bake in the oven myself. It all started with a Sunshine Kabocha hybrid squash I bought at a farm and it made the most incredible pie I’d ever tasted. The flavor was so intense and smooth. I almost forgot pumpkin existed. Almost. lol
There is more to life than just Pumpkin!
I know “people” out there make a huge deal out of pumpkin at the first whiff of cold in the air. I get it! Autumn is definitely my favorite season. And pumpkins are pretty darn awesome. But there is so much more to baking squashes than pumpkin out there, and if you’re not trying them, then you’re really missing out on some amazing flavors.
Great Baking Squash
When I talk about baking squash, I’m talking about the kind that have a dense flesh. When baked, their sugars come out and caramelize and their flesh can then be made into a mash or puree. Any other kind for other edible purposes just won’t do.
Some of my favorite baking squashes that taste great in baked goods include:
- Red Kabocha or Sunshine Kabocha
- Sugar Pie Pumpkin
- Butternut Squash
- Blue Hubbard Squash
All of these make the most gorgeous pies and baked goods! You can read about more great baking squashes at the sites Treehugger or Serious Eats . There are a lot more I’d like to experiment with, so if I run into any other interesting kinds, I’ll definitely give them a try!
A few varieties I’d love to try and grow myself are:
- Rouge Vif d’Etampes (Cinderella) Pumpkin
- Seminole Pumpkin
- Hidatsa Squash
- Cheese Pumpkin
- Buttercup Squash
- Candy Roaster Squash
- Flat White Boer Pumpkin
Squash Baddies for Baking (for use in pies and baked goods)
Avoid using these squashes as they aren’t great for making baked goods because they are either too stringy or too watery. Spaghetti and Acorn are good for other types of eating, however!
- White ghost pumpkins (too stringy)
- Large carving pumpkins (too watery and bland)
- Spaghetti Squash (too stringy)
- Acorn Squash (too watery and bland)
How to cook squash for use in baking
To use them, I cut them in half from top to bottom, scoop out the insides, and lay them face down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Then I bake them in a moderate oven (325°F – 350°F) for about an hour until they are soft and a knife inserted goes in easily. Once cooled, scoop the flesh away from the skin and press through a large sieve (this requires a ton of elbow grease) or run through a food mill. A food processor could probably be used, but I haven’t used this method. This step is important in order to achieve a smooth texture. The last thing you want is stringiness.
It is now ready to use for recipes!
Vintage Autumn Series #3: Autumn Harvest Squash Pie
I wanted to bake a pumpkin or squash recipe and was flipping through my 1943 copy of Down-On-The-Farm Cook Book by Helen Worth. That’s when I opened to “County Fair Squash Pie”. I loved the idea of a county fair pie and upon closer inspection it was just what I was looking for. I had freshly baked red kabocha squash waiting in the fridge. Plus, interestingly, this recipe had no cinnamon in it. Hmm!
Since it’s October and all the county fairs are over, I needed to change the name. So, I dubbed it Autumn Harvest Squash Pie.
Other than that, I didn’t change anything with the recipe. I loved that it used regular milk. No scalded or evaporated anything. It was just a straight up simple foods recipe. My kind of baking!
- 9-inch pastry shell
Tools you might need
- rolling pin
- fork or whisk
- pie tin
Tips for making Autumn Harvest Squash Pie
- The filling for this pie is pretty straightforward. You might be tempted to add in that cinnamon that the recipe is lacking, but I’d recommend to try it once without. The pie tasted light and refreshing without it, allowing the ginger and nutmeg to really shine! Of course, to each their own.
- I’m not recommending a crust recipe, only because everyone seems to have one they prefer. I feel that everyone has such different results, and I’m still trying to find my favorite go-to recipe. The only thing I’d recommend is to definitely use butter in the crust, even if the recipe says just shortening. Shortening is more cost-effective, but you can use half and half butter and shortening at least to give some of that yummy butter flavor, which I think any squash or pumpkin pie needs.
More Recipe You’ll Enjoy
- 1 1/2 cups cooked squash, run through a sieve, food mill, or pureed
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup cream
- 9" pastry shell
- Combine together the squash, sugar, salt, ginger, nutmeg and eggs until well mixed.
- Add the milk and cream, stirring until incorporated.
- Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust.
- Bake in 450°F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and continue baking for 45 -50 minutes or until the filling is set.
- Serve warm or chilled.