Sweet Potato Pie is a southern staple whenever the holiday season starts to approach. Much like pumpkin pie, the texture is smooth and the flavor has some spice to it. I don’t remember a single Thanksgiving without Aunt Gay’s famous Sweet Potato Pie. I used her recipe as my inspiration. This is the perfect not-too-sweet dessert for any fall gathering. I hope this will become part of your family tradition this holiday season!
Y’all, I have taste-tested so many versions of my sweet potato pie over the last week. In fact, there’s so much beta-Carotene in my system I am probably going to start looking like an Oompa Loompa any day now.
Starting with my Aunt Gay’s recipe, I added some freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, and a dash of cloves for some spice. One of the major changes I made (forgive me, Aunt Gay!) was swapping out the white sugar for all brown sugar. This yielded a much deeper, more complex flavor. After an official taste-test amongst co-workers and gym friends, the brown sugar pie won, hands down. Perhaps it’s the molasses from the brown sugar, but it’s a game-changer. I used dark brown sugar because that’s what I had on hand, but you could easily substitute with light brown.
Let’s talk pie crust. Spoiler alert – it’s not as intimidating as it seems! But, full disclosure: I am by no means a pie crust expert. In fact, Aunt Gay always used store-bought pie crust for her pies, as does Mama. Store-bought pie crust is not only convenient, but 100% consistent, and always delicious. So by all means, use your favorite store-bought crust if you’re short on time. However, I highly recommend my go-to pie crust recipe, which comes from my favorite blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction. She uses a combination of shortening AND butter. The flakiness from the shortening and the flavor from the butter is a match made in heaven!!
For the best results, you want to use very cold butter and shortening. I recommended using a box-grater on a stick of frozen butter so that it grates it into small little pieces. Or, you can always just chop up the butter into chunks. Whichever route you choose for your butter pieces, be sure and place it back into the freezer to ensure it stays very cold. I also place small little scoops of shortening into the freezer about an hour before I start making the crust. Also, I recommend working on a silicon baking bat, such as Silpat, which I use all the time. Marble is also a great surface for working with pastry!
Sweet potato pie, despite the name, is not an overly-sweet dessert. Therefore, I figured we should go all out and throw on some homemade whipped cream. With just heavy whipping cream and some granulated sugar (and a whole lot of whisking) you will have deliciously creamy homemade whipped topping.
I love sweet potato pie because it reminds me of home. I think of Aunt Gay working herself into a “dither” making sure everyone has gotten enough to eat, Uncle Ben asking, “you got any tea made?” and my sister and I sitting at the kiddie table with our cousins. [Although now since they’ve started having kids, the kiddle table rules have changed]. I think of laughter and memories with my favorite people in the whole world. It’s like that feeling you get when your heart is so incredibly full, and you feel such genuine happiness that nothing else matters. For me, that’s home.
- PIE FILLING
- 1 stick butter (room-temperature)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (about 3 medium)
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- FOR THE PIE CRUST
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup very cold vegetable shortening
- 6 tablespoons very cold butter
- ¼ - ½ cup ice water
- FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
- 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- optional: dash of vanilla, maple syrup, bourbon, amaretto, etc.
- FOR THE PIE CRUST
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt.
- Add the ice cold shortening and butter pieces into the flour mixture.
- “Cut” the butter and shortening into the flour mixture, by using either a large fork or a pastry cutter. After “cutting” the fat into the flour for a few minutes, it should become a very coarse mixture as the bits break down.
- Slowly add in the ice cold water to the mixture, starting with one tablespoon at a time. (I used about 4 tablespoons, but you may need up to ½ cup maximum, depending on humidity, your flour, butter type, etc.)
- After you add the water to the mixture, gently fold the mixture together with a rubber spatula or spoon. Once the mixture comes together in a large ball, stop adding water. Do not add anymore water than necessary.
- Transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface (baking mats and marble work well) and form it into a ball. Divide the ball into halves - so you have two crusts. Then, roughly shape the dough into a roundish disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for several hours.
- When you are ready to roll out your dough, gently roll from the center outward with your rolling pin, on a well-floured surface. Roll in all directions and keep moving the dough around with your hand. If using a standard 9” pie plate, you want your crust to be roughly at least 11” wide.
- FOR THE PIE FILLING
- In an electric mixer, cream room-temperature butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each egg.
- Add the mashed potatoes and mix until well combined. Slowly add the evaporated milk until incorporated into the mixture.
- Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Beat until everything comes together, making sure to wipe down the sides of the mixing bowl.
- Pour the mixture into an unbaked pie shell and smooth out the mixture so that the top is even.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The pie is done once a knife comes out clean after poking in the center of the pie.
- FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
- Using a chilled bowl and chilled whisk, pour ice cold heavy whipping cream and sugar into the bowl.
- Whisk together the sugar and cream until the sugar is dissolved and the cream thickens. The cream is perfect once it holds the stiff peaks when you lift the whisk and turn it upside down. This will take several minutes, but it's a great arm-workout!
What are some of your favorite family recipes?
Y’all get your aprons on, already! We’ve got baking to do!