Did you know that the variety of pumpkin used in canned pumpkin purée is very close to sweet winter squashes like butternut and honeynut? Making your own fresh purée from these varieties will give you the best possible pumpkin pie, one that’s both ultra creamy and richly flavored. Just don’t be tempted to halve the whole squash and bake it still in the skin. Cutting it into cubes allows for the most evaporation and condensation for the best texture and taste. If using a glass or ceramic pie pan, you might want to parbake the crust. Since glass doesn’t conduct heat as well as metal, the crust may not cook through if you don’t parbake.
Ultimate Pumpkin Pie
• 2 pounds butternut squash (1 small squash), peeled, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
• 1 cup/240 milliliters heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
• All-purpose flour, for rolling out the dough
• Dough for a single 9-inch pie crust
• 3 large eggs
• 2/3 cup/132 grams light brown sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
• 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or pinch of ground cloves
• 1 tablespoon bourbon or dark rum, or use 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Place two racks in the oven: one in the lower third and one in the upper third. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the lower oven rack and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Line another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread butternut squash on it. Drizzle squash with 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream, sprinkle with granulated sugar and dot the top with butter. Roast on the upper rack, stirring once or twice, until squash is very tender, 40 to 50 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll pie dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch metal pie pan. Fold over any excess dough, crimping the edges. Transfer to the freezer for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. (This helps the crust hold its shape so the edges don’t slump.)
When the squash is soft, transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes (and up to a few hours). Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees.
In a food processor or blender, purée the squash with the remaining cream until smooth. Add eggs, brown sugar, spices, bourbon and salt, and pulse to combine. The mixture should be very smooth.
Pour mixture into the chilled pie shell. Carefully transfer pie to the hot baking sheet on the bottom rack. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 300 and continue to bake until the crust is golden and the center jiggles just slightly when shaken, 35 to 45 minutes longer. Transfer pie to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving. Pie can be baked up to 24 hours ahead of serving; do not refrigerate before serving.
Total time: About 2 hours, plus 1 1/2 hours’ chilling, serves 8.
If you are buying peeled, cubed squash, you will need 1 1/4 pounds. If you want to substitute canned pumpkin, you will need 1 1/2 cups (the remaining purée in the can is great stirred into oatmeal).