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
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.
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:
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:
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!
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!
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!