Joy the Baker

Dad’s Sweet Potato Pie

November 21, 2013

Dad's Perfect Sweet Potato Pie

It’s not November.  It’s not the holiday season.  It’s not Fall.  It’s not anything at all until I get my hands on this pie.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I can usually be found standing in front of the open refrigerator eating slices of this pie like cold pizza.

This is my Dad’s famous (because I say so) Sweet Potato Pie recipe.  I’ve written about this recipe here before… heck, I’ve even written about it in my cookbook.  Consider this a can’t stop/won’t stop situation.  It’s just so good/too good/ just right/ you’ve gotta try this!

Dad's Perfect Sweet Potato Pie

Here’s what I’m thinking….

Thanksgiving is coming up.  Pumpkin pie yadda yadda yadda… forget it!

Try a Sweet Potato Pie!  It’s bright, beautifully spiced, and it will totally give you street-cred.

And we all know we bake mostly for the street-cred.  You’re welcome.

Dad's Perfect Sweet Potato Pie

Original photography shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR. The filmmaker’s camera.

This pie requires some simultaneous work.  First the peeled and diced sweet potatoes simmer away with water on the stovetop.  While those work away, we break the butter down into the flour for pie crust.

My friend Jon taught me to use a potato masher to break butter into flour.  That’s smarts.

Dad's Perfect Sweet Potato Pie

This buttermilk pie crust is buttery and shaggy.  With a few kneads and some suggestive pressing, the dough will come together into a disk. Throw it in the fridge and we can deal with the potatoes.

I just said ‘suggestive pressing’.

Dad's Perfect Sweet Potato Pie

Boiled potatoes are drained and mashed.  We’re getting closer to pie filling!

It’s all worth it.  I promise.

Dad's Perfect Sweet Potato Pie

The mashed potatoes are cooked down with brown sugar, spices, and some evaporated milk.

Heating the mixture before pouring it into the crust will help open up the spices and meld all the flavors together.  Once the mixture heats, I used an immersion blender to make it extra smooth.

If it seems like this recipe has a lot of extra steps.  Well… it does, but it doesn’t really.  Trust me.  Still worth it.

Dad's Perfect Sweet Potato Pie

Eggs, milk, and a bit more sugar are mixed into the sweet potato puree.

And it’s time to roll out the pie crust too!

Dad's Perfect Sweet Potato Pie

Let’s marry.

We’re totally almost there!

Dad's Perfect Sweet Potato Pie

Let’s just stop and take a big wiff.  Pie air freshener… and it’s only going to get better with the heat of an oven.

Dad's Perfect Sweet Potato Pie

If I could bottle the smell of this pie… I’d wear it every single day, and I’d have friends forever.

This pie is luscious (I’ve been using that word a lot lately/sorry), perfectly smooth, sweet, and the spices… beyond.  You might not think that coriander would work in a pie filling, but it’s an absolute dream.

How does this pie compare to a traditional pumpkin pie?  Well… it’s the same color and consistency, but it’s entirely different (read: waay better!).  The spices are more subtle, less cinnamon driven, and work in lovely harmony.  This pie tastes like velvet, and compassion, and love, and sweet potato.  Everything good (but who eats velvet?).

This pie filling makes a generous amount of filling.  It will overfill one of those smaller, more shallow pie tins.  I used a 9-inch wide and 2-inch deep pie pan.  A deeper pie pan hold this filling like a charm.  I used this sort of pie plate.

Other pie recourses you might consider:

How To Make Buttermilk Pie Crust

Easy No-Roll Pie Crust

The Very Best Apple Pie

Dad’s Sweet Potato Pie

Print this Recipe!

For the Crust:

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

For the Filling:

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

To make the 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 rechill the butter and distribute the moisture.

To roll out the pie crust, on a well floured surface, roll the 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 F.  Place a rack in the upper third of the oven.

To make the filling, first peel the sweet potatoes.  Dice the sweet potatoes 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 F.  Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and cook 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!


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