Butternut Squash Pie

The eighth showstopper of Bake Off 2019 was to make a vertical pie. We saw Steph wow with a carousel pie meanwhile Henry attempted to make a chandelier out of his pie but unfortunately Pastry Week turned out to be his demise! The challenges are getting harder and harder and that means I am also struggling with ideas but I eventually decided to stack my Butternut Squash Pies on top of each other for this week’s Bake Along!

The recipe is adapted from a pumpkin pie recipe and with Thanksgiving around the corner for the States, this makes a nice twist on the traditional pumpkin pie! It’s not something we really have at all in the UK but having made this Butternut Squash Pie and seeing just how easy it is to make, perhaps I’ll make it again for festive celebrations!

I chose to steam the butternut squash in my recipe to save time (and it’s also super easy) however most pumpkin (or squash) pie recipes call for you to roast the pumpkin/squash. The process for the recipe if you were to roast it is the same except the squash doesn’t need to be peeled and can be cut into larger pieces. Because the skin of the squash is heavy and the squash loses water during the steaming process, you should start with 450g of squash which yields about 350g of puree for the custard filling. This does a bit more than you need but you can cook any leftover custard in ramekins.

The pastry contains vodka, a trick that has seemed to gained popularity in recent years. Some of the liquid is replaced with vodka and this has the added benefit of adding moisture without allowing gluten to develop. When water comes into contact with flour and is worked, gluten is formed which results in chewy pastry so adding vodka prevents as much gluten from forming. Vodka also evaporates more quickly than water in the oven, which sets the pastry making it more tender – but of course the alcohol evaporates during baking!

Check out my video guide on how to make my Butternut Squash Pies below!

For the flaky pie crust:

  • 240g plain flour
  • 25g granulated sugar
  • 190g margarine
  • 4 tbsp ice cold water
  • 1.5 tbsp vodka

For the butternut squash filling:

  • 450g butternut squash
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250ml evaporated milk

For the pastry, combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add 50g of the margarine to the dry ingredients and using your fingertips, rub the margarine into the flour until it is incorporated. Then add the remaining 140g margarine in pieces. Use your fingers to flatten the margarine pieces and then toss lightly in the flour to coat. Place the whole thing in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the freezer and then add most of the water and all of the vodka and use a palette knife to bring everything together into a rough dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and bring the dough together nicely. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile peel the butternut squash and cut it into half-inch cubes. Steam the butternut squash until it is tender (i.e. a knife inserts into the cubes really easily). Leave the squash to cool slightly before placing into a food processor and blitzing into a smooth puree. Weigh out 350g of the squash puree into a mixing bowl. Add the spices, brown sugar and golden syrup and whisk to incorporate. Add the eggs one by one, whisking well between each one but avoiding adding too much air. Stream in the evaporated milk and whisk until even. Set aside until needed.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a long rectangle. Fold the top third onto the middle third and the bottom third onto the middle third and turn the pastry 90 degrees. Do this step again and then roll out the pastry to a large rectangle about 5mm thick.

Use about half of the pastry to line a 7 inch fluted tin; if your tin is loose-bottomed then line the tin as normal otherwise line the tin with two large strips of baking parchment so you can lift out the pie once baked. Make sure the pastry takes the shape of the tin and use a rolling pin to roll over the flutes to trim the excess pastry. Use the rest of the pastry to line smaller fluted tins. Reroll any excess pastry and use a cutter to cut out shapes to stack the pies once baked. Chill the pastry cases and the cutouts in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Place the tart tins on a baking tray and use a fork to prick holes in the pastry on the base. Then line the inside of the tart shells with foil squares and fill with with rice or lentils or baking beans to weight it down. Blind bake the tarts for about 15 minutes. Then carefully remove the foil and rice before returning the tarts to the oven for 10 minutes until the top edges are golden and the base is cooked through.

Turn the oven down to 160˚C. Pull out the oven rack and baking tray slightly. Fill the pastry cases with the butternut squash custard as high as possible. Carefully slide the pies back into the oven and bake the smaller pies for about 25 minutes and the larger pie for about 40 minutes until the filling is set with just a slight wobble in the very centre. Leave the tarts to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before lifting out to a cooling rack to cool fully.

To make the decorations, put the pastry cutouts onto a lined baking tray and brush them with milk. Bake the shapes for about 15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and baked through. Transfer to a cooling rack immediately.

To stack the pies, choose 3 of the cutout shapes and arrange them in a triangle in the centre of your pie; for my pig shapes, I made it so the pigs were all touching each other and I marked out a triangle with the corners being the back leg of each pig and the midpoint between each of the corners being the front leg of each pig. Place one of the smaller pies on top and place the remaining cutouts on the pie to decorate. Serve the pie at room temperature or warmed slightly.

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