Friday, January 9, 2015


Have you ever seen a more decadent slice of pie? It looks like pumpkin but it's actually Kabocha Squash Crème Fraîche Pie. I came across the recipe in the November 2014 issue of Sunset magazine but it comes courtesy of Michelle Mckenzie, program director for San Francisco cooking school 18 Reasons. Per the article, 'feel free to swap out kobocha for any other squash: Sugar Pie comes out sweeter, and canned pumpkin is mellow-tasting, if less distinctive. Shaun Server, an 18 Reasons instructor, suggested the spicy gingersnap layer.' This recipe requires a 9-inch deep dish pie pan. 

Kabocha Squash Crème Fraîche Pie
1/2 recipe Flaky All-Butter Pastry (see below)
1 medium kobacha squash (2 1/4 - 3 lbs.)
-or- 3 1/2 lbs. Sugar Pie pumpkins, or 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
12 hard, 2-inch gingersnaps, such s Nabisco
2 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
about 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/3 cups organic whole cane sugar*
- or- 2/3 cup each granulated sugar and packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 cups crème fraîche
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 large eggs, at room temperature
sweetened whipped cream
  1. Make pastry as directed in a 9-inch deep dish pie pan, rolling dough to 13-inches and baking it blind; let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 375º F (skip this step if using canned pumpkin). Cut squash in half lengthwise, using a large, heavy knife. Scrape out seeds with a large spoon. Set squash cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until very soft when pierced, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool. 
  3. Meanwhile, finely grind gingersnaps in a food processor. Add butter and a pinch of salt and pulse until evenly moistened. Scrape into a bowl and set aside. Wipe crumbs from processor bowl and blade. 
  4. Trim browned edges from squash. Scoop flesh into food processor and puree until very smooth. If using any fresh pumpkin (besides kobacha) or canned pumpkin, simmer in a saucepan, stirring often, until very thick, 10 to 15 minutes. Measure 1 1/2 cups squash or pumpkin; save the rest for soup or another use.
  5. Firmly and evenly press gingersnap mixture over bottom of pastry. Chill.
  6. Preheat oven to 375º F. In a small bowl, rub sugar and cornstarch with your fingers until no lumps remain. Add to food processor with the 1 1/2 cups squash, the crème fraîche, vanilla, 1/2 tsp. salt, the nutmeg, and eggs. Whirl until well combined, scraping inside of bowl. Pour mixture evenly into prepared crust. Wrap pie rim with 4 strips of foil. (Bake any leftover filling in a ramekin).
  7. Bake pie 15 minutes (35 minutes for a ceramic pie dish); remove foil. Continue baking until center jiggles only slightly when gently shaken, 30 to 35 minutes more (15 minutes for ceramic dish). Let cool on a rack until room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Serve with whipped cream. 
*Whole cane sugar, such as Rapunzel brand, has a complex, caramelized flavor; find it at natural-foods markets or online. If you use regular sugar, the pie will be a bit sweeter. 

Flaky All-Butter Pastry (via Sunset Kitchen)
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tbsp. ice water
  1. Combine. In a food processor, whirl flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until pieces are almond- and pea-size. Sprinkle ice water over mixture and pulse 3 or 4 times just to distribute. 
  2. Smear! Dump mixture into a mound on a work surface. Working quickly so butter stays cold, firmly press dough with heel of hand, pushing dough outward from center. Scrape dough from work surface using a bench scraper, and toss to redistribute wet and dry patches. Repeat, pressing on dry patches and tossing to create a soft dough with no dry spots. Don't overwork; you should see pieces and streaks of butter. 
  3. Chill. Divide into 2 portions and gently press each into a 3/4-inch thick disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. 
  4. Roll. Lightly flour 1 disk, work surface, and rolling pin. If dough is too firm, let stand about 5 minutes. Roll dough into a 12- to 13-inch round that's an even 1/8-inch thick. As you work, lift round, using a bench and pin as needed to keep it from sticking. 
  5. Trim. Fold round in half and open up into a 9-inch pie pan, easing it into place with out stretching. Trim overhang to 1-inch. 
  6. Flute. Roll overhang under itself so it's flush with and sitting on top of rim. Pinch dough along lip to form an even ridge. Press ridge between the V of your thumb an first finger on one hand (from outside of pan) and the fist finger on your other hand (from inside of pan).
  7. Bake Blind. This optional step - see your pie recipe - sets the crust's shape and prevents a soggy bottom. Wrap dough with plastic and freeze until firm, 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400º F with rack in lower third. Line dough with foil, letting ends come straight up but not over rim. Fill with pie weights and bake until crust is gold at edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove foil and weights. If needed, bake until center is dry, 5 more minutes. Let cool. 

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