I wasn’t feeling terribly inspired about baking a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving until I chanced upon a recipe in the New York Times that showed how to make one from scratch– without a pumpkin.
I didn’t follow the New York Times recipe, partly because it was not vegan and also because I have my own pumpkin pie recipe that works beautifully for me each time. But I did follow the writer’s instructions on making the butternut puree, which were very good. In fact, I am now a total convert– no more canned pumpkin purees for me.
I know you are busy to get on with your Thanksgiving cooking, so I’ll leave you now with the recipe. Hope everyone’s looking forward to the holidays!
Pumpkin Pie (With Butternut Squash)
For the crust:
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tbsp vegan butter, like Earth Balance, very cold
4 tbsp vegetable shortening, very cold
2 tbsp vegan cream cheese (optional; it makes the crust crispier, but leave out if you’d rather)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Ice-cold water to mix
For the filling:
1 3 1/2 to 4 pound butternut squash. Peel the squash, remove the seeds, and dice into 1-inch cubes. Winter squashes have a hard skin, so be sure you use a sharp knife or a good peeler.
1 tsp oil to roast the squash
1 cup extra-firm tofu blended into a smooth paste with 1/2 cup soymilk
3/4 cup sugar + 2 tbsp molasses (can use brown sugar instead of the sugar-molasses combination)
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp cloves, powdered
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
To make the crust, place the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cut the butter and shortening into small cubes and add to the flour. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut in the fat into the flour until you have smallish pieces of fat dispersed through the flour, no larger than the size of peas.
Drizzle in the icy water, a little at a time, until the dough comes together in a ball.
Clump the dough together and place it in plastic cling wrap, shaping into a disc as you wrap it.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Using some flour, roll the pie crust into a round large enough to fit into your pie plate with a slight overhang. Place in the pie plate and tuck in the excess under the rim.
Crimp or flute the corners to make a decorative edge. You can also just press around the edges with the tines of a fork to get a nice-looking crust.
You will need to blind-bake the crust– meaning you need to par-bake it before adding the filling. To do this, smooth a piece of aluminum foil (shiny side up) over the crust, making sure you cover the crust entirely. Now fill the pie crust all the way to the top with dry rice or beans (these are used as pie weights– they prevent the pie crust from shrinking which it would do if you didn’t add the pie weights. Keep the dry rice or beans that you use for all your future blind-baking needs– don’t throw it away).
Place the pie crust in a 400-degree (Fahrenheit) oven for 20 minutes. Then remove from the oven, carefully pour out the rice or beans, and remove the aluminum foil. Poke some holes into the bottom of the crust with a fork, and put it back in the oven for another five minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside.
To make the filling, roast the butternut squash cubes, mixed with 1 tsp oil, in a 400-degree (Fahrenheit) oven for 40 minutes or until the pieces are tender enough that a fork runs through the center easily.
Let the roasted squash cool to room temperature, then place in a food processor and process into a very smooth, silken puree.
Measure two cups of the butternut puree into a bowl. If you have any extra leftover, refrigerate or freeze to use in other Thanksgiving recipes.
Add the tofu-soymilk blend, spices, sugar, molasses, and salt to the squash puree. Mix well with a ladle or spatula.
Pour into the warm crust all the way to the top.
Bake in a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes or until the filling is set and only slightly jiggly in the center.
Cool thoroughly before serving.
The butternut bakes into a shade several times darker than what you’d get with a pumpkin pie– it’s really pretty.