Oh, I know what you’re thinking… Bosslady, it’s WINTER – WHY IS THERE A PICTURE OF SWEET POTATO PIE?! WITH FALL LEAVES, NO LESS!!
Whoa, calm down. Please don’t yell at me. Save your CAPS. I dig your feelings… Yes, these photos were taken while the trees were purging themselves of their leaves.
Yes, these photos are fall-centric, but can you blame me?
First – Fall is beautiful.
Second – It’s pie! Who says no to pie?!
So allow me to show you something that’s out of season, a breath of fresh air, because I’m sure you’ve had your fill of peppermint this or that.
This is not a “How to make a pie” post, I’m sorry… One day soon I will show you how to get your crust right and your filling tight. Today I’m all about searing pie in your eye sockets.
Peruse at leisure, and flow with me,
I’ve got a pie story.
Back in the day (1999, 2000), when hip hop was still good to listen to, I hated sweet potato everything. Hated with the passion. I hated sweet potatoes so much I don’t have a good metaphor to describe my hatred.
And for no good reason. Perhaps it was the color, or maybe because sometimes people called them yams, and let’s be serious, would you eat something called YAMS?
I wanted nothing to do with them.
Then I got knocked up and shacked up with my now husband in a neighborhood that gave one the impression you were living in suburbia. The neighbors were nice, helpful, and generous. It was a refreshing change from the hood we came from. We wasted no time making friends, forming tight bonds. One such neighbor became one of my husband’s closest friends, a friendship that continues to this day. This neighbor and friend has a father who baked sweet potato pies and would always, always bring us one.
I am ashamed to say, a few pies went untouched. By me… I mean, who eats something called YAMS?
My husband would tear into them with the fervor of a starved convict. I didn’t always trust his judgement, though. The man will eat anything so long as it is doused in granulated sugar.
Then one day he asked me to try it, to be open minded for f***’s sake and just try the damn pie.
So I did. Reluctantly…
Holy S***! was my first reaction.
Holy S***, I’m an idiot! Was my second reaction.
Never again did I miss a chance to shove sweet potato pie down my throat whenever the opportunity arose. And when I finally learned to bake, 6 long years later, I wanted to bake that very same pie. Except, neighbor’s papa was not giving up the recipe goodies. I was left to recreate this sweet potato pie from memory, working my brain overtime to remember every flavor of that delicious pie.
I think I’m getting close…
I cook the sweet potatoes in a spiced mixture, evaporated milk and heavy cream until the sweet potatoes are tender. Then I puree the whole thing, wait for the puree to cool a bit and add eggs to bind.
Yes, my methods may be a bit unorthodox, this is not your average pie making – but trust me, it works. What results is a creamy, compact pie that is full of spicy sweet potato flavor with a hint of lemon zest for brightness. I bake this pie twice a year, I bake 2 pies at once, and both pies are gone in a matter of days. I don’t play…
And now I’m saying that yes, there is snow on the ground in some places. Yes, it’s cold like a mofo out there. Yes, you’re taking down your Christmas tree. I am fully aware of that, but good pie shouldn’t have a season.
Sweet Potato Pie
- For the pie crust
- all-purpose flour - 2 cups
- Granulated sugar - 6 tablespoons
- Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- Baking powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- Unsalted butter, very cold - 1/2 cup (1 stick)
- Large eggs, lightly beaten - 2
- For the sweet potato pie filling
- Sweet potatoes or Yams, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces - 2 Large
- Light brown sugar, packed - 1 cup
- Granulated sugar - 1 cup
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Lemon juice - 1 tablespoon
- Evaporated milk - 2 (12 ounce) cans
- Heavy cream - 1 cup
- Large cinnamon stick - 1
- Ground cinnamon - 3 teaspoons
- Ground ginger - 2 teaspoons
- Ground cloves - 1/2 teaspoon
- Freshly grated nutmeg - 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- Vanilla extract - 1 1/2 teaspoons
- Eggs - 3 large
To prepare the pie crust:
Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in medium sized bowl and set aside. Cut the butter into 1 in pieces. Add them to the flour, distributing evenly. Rub the butter pieces into the flour using your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Alternatively, you can add the flour and butter to a food processor and pulse a few times until the butter is incorporated into the flour and it resembles coarse meal.
Add the eggs to the flour mixture and mix gently with the flour. Be careful not to over mix. It is OK if you see pieces of dry flour. The liquids will incorporate during rest time. Gather the dough into a rough cylinder, wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 30-45 minutes. Note: Pie dough can be made days in advance and will keep for about a month in the freezer.
To make the pie filling:
Peel your sweet potatoes and cut into 2 inch pieces. To an 8 quart heavy bottomed pot, add the sweet potato chunks, brown sugar, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, evaporated milk, heavy cream, cinnamon stick, ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, salt and vanilla extract. Cook, covered over medium/low heat until the sweet potatoes are very tender, about 30 minutes.
Turn off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick (I forget this ALL THE TIME, so I thought I'd remind you). Puree the mixture until smooth with an immersion blender. You can also transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth in batches. Allow the puree to cool for about 10 minutes, then whisk in the beaten eggs into the puree until they are fully incorporated. Set aside while you blind bake the crust.
Blind baking pie crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove pie dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap and cut the dough in half. On a floured surface, roll out the pie dough. We are aiming for about a 12 in. round. Transfer the dough to a 9 inch pie tin. Fold over the overhang and crimp the edges decoratively. Repeat with second piece of pie dough. Place pie shells in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Remove pie shells from freezer and fill with baking beads (you can also you rice or dry beans).Blind bake the crusts for about 12 minutes. The crust must still be very light. I find that blind baking prevents crusts that hold a custard base from getting soggy. Remove the crust from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
To bake the pie:
Pour the filling into the baked pie shells. Wrap the edges of the crust with strips of aluminum foil. Bake until the sweet potato pie filling is mostly set, but still a bit jiggly in the center, about 40 minutes. Remove pie from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving.