I’ve been making a lot of pies lately, mostly because it is easy to bring the pie together when all the boring prep work is done beforehand. The making of the whole pie itself is pretty time-consuming, but what I love is that the process can be broken down. The pie crust can easily be made ahead and frozen and then baked when needed. Whatever vegetable puree you use can also be made ahead of time and frozen and then defrosted. Baking doesn’t really count as work; you get to go lie down or watch TV while the oven does all the work. Really, making the filling takes about five minutes.
Today I used purple sweet potato (the skin of the potato is purple; the flesh is yellow—makes me think of Barney and Big Bird). I had yet another pie crust in my freezer (from when Suzy and I made the banana cream pie for our culinary arts summative). Today, I pulled it out of the freezer and baked it. Then I mixed the filling, all five ingredients worth, and poured it back into the pie and shoved everything into the oven. The oven did all the work and an hour later, I had this magical pie which tasted almost like pumpkin pie, but naturally sweeter and creamier and richer.
The hardest part of this pie would be roasting the sweet potatoes for the filling. Again, this isn’t active work, but it does take a while.
Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, so you can use less sugar in this recipe. I used the same recipe as I did for the chestnut pie.
Pie Crust: Adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens Anyone Can Bake
- 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 5-6 tablespoons ice water
- 1 egg white
Sweet Potato Filling:
- 1 ½ cups cooked sweet potato, mashed (about 1 lb)
- ¼ cup sugar (preferably cane)
- 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of half and half or heavy cream
- powdered sugar, for garnishing
In a large bowl, stir flour and salt together. Cut butter into flour until coarse crumbs form.
In a small bowl, stir lemon juice with water.
Gradually add a few teaspoons of water to the flour-butter mixture at a time. Stir and push moistened pastry to side of bowl. Repeat until all flour is moistened. Form the pastry into a flattened ball and fold the dough over itself a few times. This will create more layers of butter and pastry and result in a flakier crust. Wrap, and chill for at least an hour.
Place the sweet potatoes in another pie plate and preheat the oven to 425F. On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry to ¼ inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish, and trim the dough about ½-inch larger than the pie plate. Fold the excess dough under and crimp in any style you want. I used my thumb, index finger, and middle finger to achieve the classic crimp. Prick bottom with a fork. Line with foil, and fill with pie weights (I used dried, uncooked beans).
Bake pie shell for 15 minutes. The trick is to make sure that your pie crust has set before removing the foil and weights. Once the outer edges of the crust appear opaque and cooked through, remove foil and weights, turn the heat down to 375F, and bake for another 15 minutes until golden. Right after the pie has come out of the oven, brush the surface with the egg white. The egg white will cook and seal the surface so that your pie doesn’t get soggy.
|notice how the pie shell looks almost shiny. that's the thin layer of cooked egg white sealing the pie crust.|
Continue roasting the sweet potatoes for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the skin appears to be pulling away from the potato and some juices are visible in the pie plate. Let cool until cool enough to handle. Peel the skins and mash.
Sweet Potato Filling:
Preheat oven to 350F. Stir the sugar and chestnut puree together and add the nutmeg. Stir to combine and add the eggs. Mix thoroughly and add the cream. Stir once more and pour the filling into the pie shell.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the center is set but still moves when the pie is shaken gently. Check the pie after about 30 minutes. If the edges are browning too fast, cover the edges with foil. I found that the edge of my pie crust was fine and didn't need to be covered.
Let the pie stand for at least two hours before serving.Garnish with some powdered sugar.