Get out your socks and kiss flip flops goodbye, because like it or not, fall has arrived. Being a huge hater of winter, I choose to focus on the positives of these months with shorter days and chilly temps. I celebrate great baking opportunities that come with the changing of the season, and the big, bulky sweaters we can all hide underneath as we reach for that second sliver.
This is a great autumn pie with a mellow sweet squash flavor, and creamy, dense texture. While other squash pie recipes often tend to lean heavily on the spices, this recipe is more subtle, taking the less-is-more approach with a nice hit of ginger and just a hint of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. It gets its buttery, creamy flavor from the addition of butter and sweetened condensed milk.
There's been frost on the ground upstate, which means that pumpkins, squash, and other gourds are starting to become available at the Greenmarkets of New York City. When choosing butternut squash, look for smooth, tan skin, free of bruises or mushy spots. The flesh should be so hard that you can knock on it hard without bruising. Try to avoid squash with green patches around the stem, which indicates that the squash is not quite ripe. The flesh should be a bright, slightly yellow shade of orange.
The easiest way to get the puree you'll need is to roast the squash in a deep pan with some water in the bottom. Quarter the squash, scoop out all of the seeds, and cover and seal the pan with aluminum foil. Roast the squash for an hour, until the flesh is fork tender, and allow it to cool before scooping it out of the skin and directly into a food processor. Add the other ingredients, process to a smooth filling, and there you have it.
There are a couple of great toppings for butternut squash pie. Whipped cream, slightly sweetened and/or enhanced with some vanilla or spice is always delicious. My favorite, more labor intensive topping is a single cube of homemade marshmallow, slowly heated under the broiler, so the insides liquify and the top is lightly bruléed.