Soul Food, Part 4: Sweet Potato Pie

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As the dessert for our soul food dinner, Selena suggested we bake a sweet potato pie. This is like pumpkin pie, but made with sweet potato. Of course we made the pastry crust from scratch, using the new method that guarantees a flaky crust (but with the regular amount of butter). The flavor of the sweet potato custard turned out great, with just the right amount of spice and sweetness. The color was a bit too dark because I only had dark brown sugar; with regular brown sugar the color will be better. It is not strictly necessary to blind bake the crust first, but you should if you want to get a crunchy bottom. Here is what we did…

Ingredients

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For a 27 cm (11″) pie, serves (at least) 8

900 grams (2 lbs) sweet potatoes

110 grams (1/2 stick) butter, softened

50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar

150 grams (3/4 cup) brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp salt

180 ml (3/4 cup) evaporated milk (in Dutch: koffiemelk)

For the pie crust

200 grams (1 1/4 cup) pastry flour

100 grams (7 Tbsp) cold butter

1 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

45 ml (3 Tbsp) cold water

Instructions

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Put about two thirds of the flour (130 grams) in the food processor  with a tablespoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt, and pulse a few times until mixed.

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Add all of the cold butter (110 grams), cut into cubes.

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Process until the dough has come together (this will take a while; first it will look like coarse sand, but keep going).

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Flatten the dough with a spatula.

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Sprinkle the remaining flour (70 grams) on top.

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Pulse a couple of times to get small clumps of dough that are covered with flour.

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Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with 45 ml (3 Tbsp) of cold water.

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Fold in the water with a spatula until the dough comes together.

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Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

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In the meantime, peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into chunks or slices. Put the sweet potato in a pot and cover with water.

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Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the sweet potato and allow to cool.

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Butter a 27 cm (11″) pie shape. When the dough has rested, roll it out on a floured work surface and line the pie shape with it. Prick the dough all over with a fork.

If you like, blind bake it for 15 minutes at 190C/375F with pie weights, and for 5 minutes without. This will prevent a soggy bottom.

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To make the filling, put the sweet potato in the bowl of the food processor together with 2 eggs, 50 grams sugar, 150 grams brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/8 tsp ground allspice, 180 ml evaporated milk, and 110 grams softened butter. There is no need to add the ingredients in any specific order, as the food processor will mix them regardless.

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Process until smooth and homogeneous.

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Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell.

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Bake at 180C/350F (not fan forced) until the center of the pie is firm, about 1 hour.

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Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wine pairing

Because of the spices and earthiness (low acidity), this is great with a late harvest (vendanges tardives) gewurztraminer from Alsace or a gewurztraminer passito from Italy.

Flashback

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With fresh squid and some tricks (including the use of vodka), deep fried calamari can be a crispy culinary delight rather than a greasy rubber band. Of course it should be served with homemade aioli.

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18 thoughts on “Soul Food, Part 4: Sweet Potato Pie

    1. I saw the crust method on SeriousEats and it really works, even after adjusting the amounts (SeriousEats uses 140 grams of butter and 180 grams of flour, which is an outrageous amount of butter, so I changed it to the regular 100 grams of butter for 200 grams of flour). It has two advantages over the regular crust: (1) it is more flaky, and (2) it is easier to roll out and to transfer to the pan.
      Although I have never seen it before, I suppose you could even make carrot pie this way.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you for reminding me: have not made this for ages even tho’ cannot get enough of sweet potatoes! Have to try your recipe: no ginger in mine. Evaporated milk – can you buy a bottled variety: to the best of my knowledge it only comes in tins here? I have seen a variation of ‘coffee cream’ but . . . [drink mine v strong and black 🙂 !]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The interesting thing is that the tinned variety isn’t available here, only sweetened condensed milk (which is something quite different). At first I thought evaporated milk was not available at all, but then I discovered it is exactly what is sold in bottles as “coffee milk” in the Netherlands.

      Like

  2. This series have been most interesting. And for this one person cook quite a challenge to bring it all together for the same meal.
    My mother had a series of Cordon Bleu cookbooks (all in French) – most jealously guarded but rather old fashioned by today’s book styles – but they included very helpful timelines.
    And such useful tips as when the hostess should take time out to freshen her complexion so as to be cool and calm for the arrival of the first guests!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a lot of work and we started late, so dinner was at 9pm. For large dinner parties I often make a time schedule in advance, which is both helpful and stress reducing. It is also a matter of picking what to make — homemade mayo always seems to go wrong when the guests are about to arrive.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have just made this and earned significant brownie points! My wife, who could perhaps best be described as a sweet potato gourmand, said it is the best tart she has ever tasted. You have probably saved my marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

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