Sweet Potato Pie
By P.J. McKendrick • December 10, 2017
Sweet potato pie is one of the most highly regarded foods in all of soul food cuisine, and probably the most highly regarded dessert. Eating the dish is a tradition enjoyed by many African-Americans and southern natives during special occasions, Thanksgiving in particular. Sweet potato pie is often referred to as pumpkin pie’s southern cousin. The two dishes are made very similarly, with an almost identical set of ingredients. They differ in texture.
While I don’t hesitate to call sweet potato pie a “southern thing”, the dish seems to be more popular among African-Americans nationwide, than it is among southern natives in general. I think the same is true with plain ole sweet potatoes. My parents drove me sweet potato crazy when I was growing up. It seems like we ate baked sweet potatoes every night. Admittedly, I enjoy baked white potatoes more now and have for years. My love for sweet potato pie never waned though. This is a dish that your taste buds will never grow tired of.
Prep time: 1.5 hours (to bake the sweet potatoes and allow the butter to soften)
Ingredients (for two pies):
- 4 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
- 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) (softened)
- 5 cups of sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg or allspice (whichever floats your boat)
- 2 deep dish pie shells
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 12 oz of evaporated milk
- ½ teaspoon of salt
Recipe (Long version):
First, you’re going to preheat your oven to 380° Fahrenheit. Place four sweet potatoes on an aluminum pan and place them in an oven. Let them bake for about ninety minutes or until they become soft and squishy.
After the sweet potatoes are done baking, let them cool before removing the skins from the potatoes by peeling them off. The skins should be crispy and easy to remove. If they’re not, that may be a sign that your sweet potatoes need to bake longer.
Place the skinned sweet potatoes in a bowl and mash them together thoroughly. Any metal or wooden spoon you have laying around should help do the trick.
Next, add your ingredients. Using a blender, blend your butter, eggs, and sugar first. Make sure you’re giving each ingredient a good blend before you add the next. After that, add your cinnamon, allspice and vanilla extract to the filling. Lastly, add your evaporated milk to the mixture.
Once the ingredients are thoroughly blended, pour the filling into your pie crust and smoothen it so that it is even on the top. The filling will rise while it’s baking, so be careful not to put too much in the shells. Try to leave AT LEAST the top half inch of pie shell untouched. This is something I didn’t anticipate. Set your oven to 375°, and let the pie sit in the oven for 70 minutes.
Once 70 minutes have gone by, check to see if the pie is ready to be removed by placing a knife into the pie and removing it. If the knife has filling on it when removed, it needs to bake for a bit longer. Let the pie cool for at least four hours before cutting, but twenty-four hours is more preferable.
This is not an overly-difficult dish to make by any means. I was surprised by how well my pies turned out, considering I had never made them before. I’m no skilled chef by any means, and I’m led to believe that almost anyone can make an excellent sweet potato pie without much trouble. I followed my grandmother’s recipe exactly as it was told to me, but if you’re adventurous and want to try making the pie with some different ingredients, go for it.
Recipe (short version):
- Bake potatoes and let them cool slightly
- Peel and place in a mixing bowl
- Add eggs (blend after each one is added)
- Mix in spices, flavor, salt and evaporated milk
- Pour filling into shells
- Bake at 375° for 70 minutes (or until knife inserted in center comes out clean)