Apple and Butternut Squash PiePosted: November 1, 2014
Here’s an example of how a passing comment I read turns into something delicious – which I find even more enjoyable for it being over 250 years old!
William Ellis was a gentleman farmer in Hertfordshire for most of the early 18th century. He was passionate about agriculture and husbandry and wrote extensively about his life and experiences. His reputation seems to have suffered somewhat both during his lifetime and afterwards, as his efforts to make money by writing about his knowledge of country matters was looked down on by ‘true’ gentlemen. Nowadays, his work is regarded in much higher esteem.
Ellis’ The Country Housewife’s Family Companion (1750) is delightfully scatty, wandering off on digressions and anecdotes at every opportunity.The inspiration for this recipe came from the final paragraph of a section on puddings, vinegars and savoury pies (I told you it was scatty!).
The original mentions a mixture of pumpkin and apples, however, it wasn’t pumpkin season when I first read it, and what I had on hand was an early season butternut squash, so that is what I used. Paired with some fluffy Bramley apples and just the slightest amount of sugar, this pie is light and refreshing, moist enough to hold it’s shape, but not so soggy as to ruin the pastry. Since modern Bramley Apples are probably much juicier than those available in the 18th century, I have included a little cornflour to thicken any excess liquid.
When it comes to the pastry, you have several options – obvs! The first time I made this I used a butter puff pastry, top and bottom. This decadence worked deliciously against the, lets face it, rather spartan filling – but the sharpness of the apple, the sweetness of the squash and the flaky crispness of the buttery pastry were truly a delight to savour. You could extend this flaky buttery-ness by opting for filo pastry. Alternatively, as in the photo above, mix-and-match with a shortcrust pastry for the bottom and sides and a puff pastry lid. If you’re planning a deep dish pie, then this would be your best option, as the shortcrust will hold the sides up better than puff – a large, flat pie is ideal for using butter puff pastry.
Apple and Butternut Squash Pie
Rather than have a list of vague quantities to cover all the pastry and pie size options, I’ve decided to go with the deep dish pie, as there are a couple of details that require a little attention in order to get the very best results.
300g butternut squash – peeled and chopped, or shredded on a mandolin
300g Bramley Apples – peeled, cored and chopped, or shredded on a mandolin
3tbs caster sugar 
1 sheet all-butter puff pastry
1 batch sweet cornflour shortcrust pastry – from here
egg-white for brushing
milk and caster sugar for glazing
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
- Roll out the pastry and line a 24cm tart tin.
- Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork to prevent blistering.
- Line the pastry with baking parchment and weigh it down with rice, dried peas or baking beans.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the parchment and weights.
- Brush the inside of the pastry with lightly beaten egg-white and bake for a further 5 minutes.
- Set pie aside and raise the heat of the oven to 220°C, 200°C Fan.
- Toss the apple and squash together.
- Mix the sugar and cornflour together and sprinkle over the filling and toss again.
- Add the filling to the blind-baked pastry case and press down firmly – there will be some shrinkage during cooking, especially when using Bramley Apples, and you want to try and minimise any possibility of a huge gap opening up between the pastry lid and the filling.
- If your butternut squash is rather mature, and doesn’t seem very moist, add 2-3 tbs water over the filling before you add the pastry lid.
- Damp the edges of the pie and lay the sheet of puff pastry over the top. Press together firmly and crimp the edges.
- Trim the excess pastry.
- Cut a 1.5-2cm steam vent in the centre of the pie – I find a plain, metal piping nozzle is the best/neatest way to achieve this. This will also help indicate whether the pie is cooked, as the filling will be visible through the hole and a shred or two extracted and tasted if necessary.
- Decorate with pastry scraps as appropriate.
- Brush the whole lid with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar.
- Put the pie onto a baking sheet and bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 170°C, 150°C Fan and bake until the filling is cooked, 35-45 minutes more. NB The juice will be visible bubbling through the vent hole when cooked. If the lid is browning too much, cover it with a sheet of either foil or baking parchment.
- Remove cooked pie from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Eat warm or cold.
 This is the very minimum amount to still achieve a sweet pie. If your apples are especially sharp, add more sugar, but remember, the sugar will also draw out the juice from the apples, so add a little more cornflour as well to compensate.