As I open my cupboard that holds all my cookbooks, I grab a copy of the one I wrote , stained and tattered, filled with not only recipes, but memories too.
Some might think I’d never have to look up a recipe again, having made each of them countless times while testing, but I do. I could probably get by, but reading my own writing, and cooking from something in my hands is one of the reasons I think we still buy cookbooks even in a digital age. It’s the experience and the feeling.
And although pumpkin is lovely, I’m glad to see more people of replacing it with squash in autumn treats like pie. Not only do I think the taste is richer and less vegetal, but because squash has a lower water content, the texture is creamier.
This Butternut Squash Pie with Candied Pecans is an adaptation from the Sweet Delicata Pie in my cookbook, my favorite “sweet” recipe of them all with my favorite squash.
Delicata squash has a flavor like sweet potatoes and macadamia nuts, buttery and rich. As the pie bakes, it takes on a deep caramel color, rich and creamy, with brown sugar notes that make merry with warm spices.
The salty-sweet oat crust is foolproof, and naturally gluten-free to boat. And between you and me, I prefer it over pastry crusts (when I need one for apple pie, this is the gluten-free lattice version I like to use).
So why the adaptations? Well, the most questions I get during cooking classes and here on the blog are how to adjust recipes for different food intolerances or preferences. I totally get it, after going through a year of auto-immune issues. I try to do my best to provide suggestions or do more recipe testing to provide an option, which is what I did with this pie when one of my students couldn’t consume dairy.
Coconut oil can do magical things, and I found out that “cutting it into” the oat mixture just like I did with butter worked perfectly. You start with it at soft, scoopable stage and use your hands to massage it into ingredients. You don’t notice the coconut flavor, and it holds together so well. You can even pick up a slice and eat it on the go without it falling apart – trust me, I tried it.
Making the filling dairy-free was relatively easy, swapping almond milk for regular, but decreased the amount originally called for because it is more water-based.
And although I prefer roasting delicata squash to make the puree, I realize we’re all human. There are days when we just don’t have time, the energy, or maybe even the access to delicata squash as called for in my original recipe. With that in mind, I experimented with using organic, canned butternut squash puree, and the result was a win. The flavor is a little lighter than the deepness you get from roasted squash puree, but truly the difference was minimal. I’ve made it using kabocha squash too with much success.
So from my oven to yours, I’m wishing you a happy winter squash season, and hoping that maybe this Winter Squash Pie makes into your harvest party, or perhaps Thanksgiving table. You won’t miss the pumpkin, dairy, or gluten – I’m sure of it. ☺