Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

When testing Sweet Potato Pie, I asked for feedback from my southern friend, Bernard, who knows how sweet potato pie should really taste. One of the first ingredients to go was cloves. I made adjustments and baked off little ramekin samples until he assured me that it was just right.

Roasting sweet potatoes before baking them into pie intensifies their flavor through caramelization. As they cool, the peels release like parchment paper, eliminating the tedious task of peeling with a potato peeler.

It’s southern goodness in a crust. Thanks, Bernard!

  • Makes: 1 pie
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  Place oven rack just below center; start preheating to 400°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer). Ovens often run hot or cold or preheat slowly.
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes
  • Parchment paper
Meanwhile, prepare potatoes. Rinse and cut out any damaged areas. Evenly pierce each 6-8 times with a knife, space across a lined half sheet pan, and bake until caramelized juices escape (50-60 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack to cool (20-25 minutes). Skins will separate from the flesh, making peeling quite easy. Discard any damaged areas and set flesh aside. Peeling and roasting reduces weight by approximately 25%. Piercing prevents an uncontrolled steam burst.
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Sift all together into a 1-cup bowl. Whisk until corn starch is no longer visible; set aside. Sifting removes starch and spice clumps, as well as nutmeg grit, which is most unpleasant in the finished custard. Whisking starch into other ingredients eliminates starch clumps.
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 10 ½ ounces (1 ½ cups firmly packed) dark brown sugar

In the order listed, add all to a blender/food processor. Follow with the spice mix and 29 ounces of sweet potato flesh. Cover and pulse to perfect smoothness (50-60 seconds), scraping down sides with a silicone spatula as needed. Set aside at room temperature.

Tip: If cream cheese is not at room temperature, warm on medium power on a microwave-safe plate to soften.

Adding eggs first helps blades draw in other ingredients. Warm cream cheese blends easily. Weighing flesh produces consistent results.
  Place a rack two-thirds down in the oven; set back to 400°F “Convection.”  
  • ½ recipe Flaky Pastry Note: For the crust, use butter flavored shortening to prevent sagging during baking.
To shape bottom crust (1-crust pie): Fold pastry round in half, and then in half again to transfer to a deep dish pie plate (9.5-inch, 6 cup capacity). Center the point; unfold and smooth without stretching. Trim overhang to 1 inch all the way around; mend splits or weak spots with scraps. Turn edges neatly under and crimp. Stretched dough shrinks back as it bakes. Mending prevents filling from leaking during baking.
  Fill pastry with custard, leaving ½ inch exposed crust. Bake promptly. Baking promptly prevents a soggy bottom crust. The filling will swell about ¼ inch during baking.
  When filling swells almost to the center (38-40 minutes) confirm that a toothpick inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean, or that an instant-read thermometer registers 175°F. The center will still be “jiggly.” Promptly shut off the oven and crack the door open to allow the center to cruise gently up to 180°F. Leave pie in oven 1 hour to cool slowly, and then age in the refrigerator 12-24 hours before serving. Overcooking or rapid temperature changes cause cracking. Aging promotes smoothness in custards.



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