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Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet potatoes with their natural sweetness make a surprisingly wonderful pie. With freshly grated nutmeg and allspice plus the warmth of cinnamon this pie captures all those familiar holiday notes. Something so delicious you might just decide to bump that traditional pumpkin pie from the table!

Both my grandmothers grew sweet potatoes so this simple Southern pie was a common guest on their tables, whether for a Sunday dinner or a holiday feast! Most gardeners in the Texas Panhandle raised sweet potatoes, harvesting in late summer and storing them in their “root cellars”. These cellars, located steps away from the backdoor of the farm or ranch house were little more than a room of sorts, made from a hole dug deep into the ground. There were wooden steps leading down into the cool, dark space and walls lined with shelves to store the summer’s bounty for the winter ahead. And with tornadoes frequently showing up in the springtime they provided shelter from those fierce storms.

Powell homestead, early 1900s.

Sweet potato pies are made in numerous forms. Some recipes, like the one published in a cookbook of my Grandmother’s – circa 1938 – show the pie finished with a topping of meringue.

But the sweet potato pies in our family were more like a pumpkin pie – starting with roasted sweet potatoes. Roasting reduces any additional liquid that might creep into the potatoes from boiling and deepens the flavor.

Then the potatoes are blended with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice plus of course butter, sugar, eggs and for extra richness some cream.

The pastry crust is a blend of butter and shortening – butter gives it that wonderful taste and shortening provides a bit more structure. Baking powder offers a little lift for flakiness and just a touch of buttermilk for tenderness.

This tender crust is filled with the lightly sweetened custard then baked until the sweet potato goodness is slightly puffed, set in the center and burnt orange in color.

Served plain or with a dollop of whipped cream – sweet potato pie is pure country, pure Southern and purely delightful!

Sweet Potato Pie

For the crust:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons butter, cubed and chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes

4 tablespoons shortening, chilled

1 tablespoon buttermilk

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Place the flour along with the sugar, kosher salt and the baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse about 6 to 8 times to combine.

Toss in the shortening and scatter the cold butter cubes on top of the flour and pulse about 10 times, just until the butter and shortening are about the size of peas.

Sprinkle the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of the cold water over the top of the flour and process for about 10 to 15 seconds. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time if needed for the dough to hold together when you press it between your fingers. Don’t over process or your pastry will be tough. The dough will be somewhat crumbly.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured parchment paper. Using the parchment paper, gently pull the dough together and press it into a disc. Chill the dough for 30 minutes. Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface or rolling mat.

Dust the rolling pin with flour and roll the dough into a round large enough to fit inside a 9” pie plate. Turn the pastry dough occasionally while rolling so it doesn’t stick to the surface. Using the rolling pin, gently roll the pie dough up and unroll into a 9” pie plate that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Ease the dough into the pie plate taking care to not stretch it.

Trim the excess dough leaving about 1-1/2” edge then turn it under and crimp to seal the edges. Chill the pie shell until ready to bake.

Note: Once the pie shell is chilled you can also wrap it and freeze it for up to a month.

For the sweet potato pie:

2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed with skin on

3 extra-large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1-1/2 cups heavy cream

4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly

Poke holes into the sweet potatoes on all sides. Place in a baking dish lined with foil and roast in a 425-degree oven for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until they are very soft when squeezed. The time will vary depending on the overall size of the potatoes.

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them open and scoop out the flesh, measuring 2 cups of potatoes. Using a pastry knife or potato masher, mash the cooked sweet potatoes. Whisk together the eggs with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, kosher salt and cream.

Add the sweet potatoes and butter then whisk until the mixture is fairly smooth.

Pour into the chilled, unbaked 9” pie shell. Cover the edge of the pie crust with a pie shield or strips of foil to prevent the crust from over browning. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until the center is just set and a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a wire rack then chill thoroughly before cutting into the pie.

Sweet Potato Pie, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

November 14, 2018
: Serves 6 to 8.

Sweet potatoes with their natural sweetness make a surprisingly wonderful pie. With freshly grated nutmeg and allspice plus the warmth of cinnamon this pie captures all those familiar holiday notes. Served plain or with a dollop of whipped cream - sweet potato pie is pure country, pure Southern and purely delightful!

By:

Ingredients
  • For the pie crust:
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cubed and chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
  • 4 tablespoons shortening, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
  • For the sweet potato pie:
  • 2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed with skin on
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly
Directions
  • Step 1 For the pie crust:
  • Step 2 Place the flour along with the sugar, kosher salt and the baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse about 6 to 8 times to combine.
  • Step 3 Toss in the shortening and scatter the cold butter cubes on top of the flour and pulse about 10 times, just until the butter and shortening are about the size of peas.
  • Step 4 Sprinkle the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of the cold water over the top of the flour and process for about 10 to 15 seconds. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time if needed for the dough to hold together when it’s pressed between your fingers. Don’t over process or your pastry will be tough. The dough will still be somewhat crumbly.
  • Step 5 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured parchment paper. Using the parchment paper, gently pull the dough together and press it into a disc. Wrap the dough and chill the dough for 30 minutes.
  • Step 6 Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface or rolling mat. Dust the rolling pin with flour and roll the dough into a round large enough to fit inside a 9” pie plate. Turn the pastry dough occasionally while rolling so it doesn’t stick to the surface.
  • Step 7 Using the rolling pin, gently roll the pie dough up and unroll into a 9” pie plate that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Ease the dough into the pie plate taking care to not stretch it.
  • Step 8 Trim the excess dough leaving about 1-1/2” edge then turn it under and crimp to seal the edges. Chill the pie shell until ready to bake.
  • Step 9 Note: Once the pie shell is chilled you can also wrap it and freeze it for up to a month.
  • Step 10 For the sweet potato pie:
  • Step 11 Poke holes into the sweet potatoes on all sides. Place in a baking dish lined with foil and roast in a 425-degree oven for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until they are very soft when squeezed. The time will vary depending on the overall size of the potatoes.
  • Step 12 Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them open and scoop out the flesh, measuring 2 cups of potatoes. Using a pastry knife or potato masher, mash the cooked sweet potatoes.
  • Step 13 Whisk the eggs together with the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, kosher salt and cream. Add the sweet potatoes and butter then whisk until the mixture is fairly smooth.
  • Step 14 Pour into the chilled, unbaked 9” pie shell.Cover the edge of the pie crust with a pie shield or strips of foil to prevent the crust from over browning.Bake in a 400-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until the center is just set and a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Step 15 Cool completely on a wire rack then chill thoroughly before cutting into the pie.


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