Sweet Potato Pie
MUSIC PAIRING: Mason Jennings, Minnesota
So, I realize that we’ve officially entered Spring but here in New York over the weekend, it was freezing. All I wanted were things like chicken pot pie, beef stew and Christmas treats. All of this made me realize that I never shared a delicious pie recipe with you from the holidays. Fail! At this point, everyone is sick of cinnamon and nutmeg but not me. Just because I made this pie in December doesn’t mean I wouldn’t shove a piece of it in my face immediately. Spring peas be damned.
I mentioned a while ago that my mom came to visit for the holidays which meant I finally had time to cook for her. Our visits are usually short so we’d rather try new and exciting restaurants instead of staying in. However, having her in New York for three weeks meant extra free time to cook for her which was really special. She is my inspiration and all.
I’ve had fun trying my hand at pie making. I haven’t totally destroyed them and I even managed to get a flaky crust out of one of them. Victory! Since we chose to do pecan pie at Thanksgiving last year, I had been missing the warm flavors and spices found in pumpkin pie. While I originally set out to actually do pumpkin, I realized that I’d never made a sweet potato pie so I changed my mind. Turns out I can be real wise when I wanna be.
I loved this pie. It has heft while staying light, the spices don’t overpower the sweet potato and the sugar balance is perfect. For a more savory dessert person like myself, this pie is an excellent choice. Just don’t make the mistake I did of having a second slice before even finishing the first because the sweet potatoes make this way filling. Yes, even your pajama pants will feel tight. I did that research so you wouldn’t have to. You’re welcome.
If you’re wondering why that slice above looks like a ski slope, it’s because my lovely sister piled a bunch of food on top of the entire pie plate in a bag when I was transporting it. Allison is a smart gal but sometimes…
Why Mason Jennings? Much like this pie, his voice is smooth, flecked with spice and comfortingly warm.
Recipe by: Joy the Baker
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup cold buttermilk
- 2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes, from 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cup (10 ounces) evaporated milk, divided
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Make your pie crust. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers (or a potato masher), work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Create a well in the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. Add a bit more buttermilk if necessary, but you want to mixture to be shaggy and not outwardly wet.
- On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Gently knead into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator will help re-chill the butter and distribute the moisture.
- On a well floured surface, roll the pie crust 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer it to a pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan. Fold the edges under and crimp with your fingers or a fork. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven.
- To make the filling, first peel the sweet potatoes. Dice them into large 3-inch chunks. Place potato pieces in a large pot and cover with cool water. Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender throughout, about 20 minutes. Test the doneness of the potatoes using a thin knife. If the knife meets any resistance, simmer the potatoes a bit longer.
- Drain into a colander.
- In the same large pot place cooked potato pieces, the packed brown sugar, all of the spices, salt, butter and half of the evaporated milk. Cook on low flame, using a potato masher to mash the potatoes and they cook. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Make sure that the mixture is as smooth as possible. I used an immersion blender to completely smooth the mixture. Once mixture is smooth and fragrant, remove from fire and let cool in pot.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining evaporated milk, granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk well. Pour the egg mixture into the warm sweet potato mixture.
- Pour the prepared filling into the pie crust. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and baked until cooked through, about 45 to 50 minutes. To test the pie for doneness lightly shake the baking sheet. If the center of the pie has a wavy jiggle it needs more time in the oven. If the center of the pie has a lighter, more structured jiggle, it’s done!
- I served this with cinnamon whipped cream which was delightful. Eaten on its own, however, it's terrific.