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Butternut squash in cheesy custard with orange rayu

Brunch Vegetarian
Serves 4

This dish celebrates the colours of autumn thanks to the orange butternut squash, the golden custard and the fiery red chilli and orange rayu. It’s perfect for a festive brunch as it’s filling enough to keep you going until the big feast, and special enough to really feel like you’re celebrating. Serve this with some lightly cooked greens, if you like.

Follow the full recipe


90ml sunflower oil
2 spring onions, trimmed and very finely chopped (30g)
25g fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced (20g)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1½ tsp  aleppo chilli
1½ tbsp red bell pepper flakes
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp black sesame seeds, toasted
1 large orange: 2 tsp finely grated zest and 2 tsp juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
½ butternut squash (500g), halved lengthways and deseeded (stem, base and skin intact)
5 large shallots (300g), peeled and halved lengthways
1 tsp ground chinese 5-spice, plus an extra 1/8th tsp
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2½ tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper
200ml chicken stock (or veggie stock)
200ml double cream
4 large egg yolks (80g)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp cornflour
2 tsp  white miso
100g gruyere, finely grated


  1. For the orange rayu, put half the oil into a medium sauté pan on a medium heat with the spring onions, ginger and garlic. Fry for 12 minutes, stirring often, until soft and fragrant. It shouldn’t colour at all, so adjust the heat if necessary. Add the rest of the oil, the chilli, red pepper flakes and sesame seeds, and warm through for 90 seconds. Off the heat, immediately stir in the orange zest and juice and the soy sauce. Transfer to a bowl and leave for at least half an hour, for the flavours to infuse.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  3. Slice the butternut squash into 1½ -2 cm thick half moons. Transfer to a wide, large cast-iron skillet, skin-side up, keeping the slices together in the shape of the butternut squash half. You might have to angle the pieces slightly so that they all fit. Place the shallots on either side. In a small bowl combine the spices, oil, ¾ teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. Pour this all over the vegetables in the pan and use your hands to coat everything nicely, rearranging the squash pieces if necessary. Bake for 22 minutes, or until nicely coloured and the butternut squash is soft but not falling apart. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes and turn the oven temperature down to 150C.
  4. Spoon out half the cooked shallots from the pan and set them aside, keeping them intact.
  5. Meanwhile, add the stock and cream to a medium saucepan and heat through until steaming on a medium heat. In a separate large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the yolks, cornflour, garlic, miso, half the cheese, ¼ teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. Slowly pour the scolding cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until incorporated and smooth.
  6. 6. When ready, pour the warm custard into the butternut squash pan, letting it pool all around the squash (avoid pouring it directly onto the squash). Sprinkle the remaining half of the gruyere all over the custard, avoiding the top of the squash. Lastly, gently place the reserved shallots, cut-side up, on top of the custard and cheese so they’re laying on top. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the custard is set with a very slight wobble.
  7. When ready to serve, spoon the rayu all over the custard bake and serve warm.