A few years back I did a series of 26 pies from A to Z, and some of those pies are on my blog today (like the Zabaglione Tart, Wee Little Blueberry Pies and Toffee & Chocolate Chunk Pie.) I polled family and friends to find out what everyone’s favorite pies are and tried to incorporate as many as I could into my project. (The top three were Chocolate Cream, Apple and Pumpkin.) After a month of pies when I finally reached Z I thought I had made every pie under the sun. And yet, I missed this one: the Sweet Potato Pie!
While prepping for a segment on Local 22WVNY/44WFFF to share pies I asked friends and anchors Brittney Hibbs and Amanda Lindquist for their pie favorites. For Brittney it is blueberry pie and cherry pie. And for Amanda, who grew up in Florida the favorites are pecan pie and sweet potato pie. None of my friends or family seemed to know much about sweet potato pie or had ever tried one. So I couldn’t wait to give it a try!
A review of several cookbooks revealed the simplicity of a sweet potato pie: mainly sweet potatoes, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg – flavorings similar to the much more familiar pumpkin pie.
Many recipes called for boiled or plain roasted sweet potatoes. I decided to go with roasting to get the added flavor, stirring the chunks with brown sugar and boiled cider.
Then I pureed the potato as much as I could to get a smooth texture (guess I still had pumpkin pie on the brain.)
This pie had a long bake but in the end yielded a great looking pie! The filling is sweet and smooth, scented with cinnamon and nutmeg. I shared it with coworkers who were eager to try it, and they loved it! My good friend Natalie made it that very weekend for her family who also loved it and requested it for the Thanksgiving Day table. How nice to have another pie in the repertoire! I sure hope Amanda likes it!
- 1-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
- 1/3 cup boiled cider
- 2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, unbleached
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold butter, divided
- 3 tablespoons very cold shortening (stored in fridge or freezer)
- Ice water
- 1 cup half & half
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Make the pie dough: in a large bowl combine the flour and salt. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter, and all the shortening. Use a pastry cutter to cut these into the flour mixture. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Add in the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time just until the dough is moistened enough to hold together when squeezed. Turn out the dough mixture onto a floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times into a smooth dough. Flatten it into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough disk in the fridge for 2 hours. Overnight is ideal if possible.
Preheat the oven to 450°. Very lightly coat the bottom of an 8" x 8" pan with cooking spray. Peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into 1" thick slices and then cut each slice into quarters. Place the cut potatoes into the pan along with the boiled cider and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar. Toss the potatoes to coat them with sugar and cider. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, stir the potatoes and bake them uncovered for 20 to 30 more minutes. The potatoes should be soft and mashable. Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the potatoes to a dish and allow them to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, purée the cooled potatoes in a food processor while slowly adding in the half and half. The potato/half and half mixture should be as smooth as possible - purée it in batches if need be. Transfer the puréed potatoes to the bowl of a stand mixer.
Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in the microwave (10 second bursts until it's melted.) Add this to the potatoes. Add in the eggs, remaining 2/3 cup of brown sugar, the granulated sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix them in the stand mixer until the ingredients are combined and smooth. Set this mixture aside.
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface into a large circle, about 13 inches in diameter. Fit the dough into a 9" pie plate and crimp the edge. Place a sheet of foil or parchment over the surface and gently shielding the edges of the dough. Fill the shell with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the pie shell for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, prick the dough all over with a fork, and then bake it for 10 minutes more. Remove the pie shell from the oven and allow it to cool for 15 minutes.
Reduce the oven heat to 350° F. Spoon the sweet potato filling into the prebaked shell and smooth the top. Cover the pie crust edges with foil to prevent over-browning. Bake the pie for 50 to 55 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Allow the pie to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Fresh, sweetened whipped cream can be spread over the cooled pie before slicing, or simply add dollops to slices as you serve them. Spreading whipped cream over the uncut pie can be a great option to hide a crack in the top of your pie, should one appear after it's baked!