Delicious sweet potato pie recipes
Sweet potato pie is a delicious Southern treat.
This delicious treat originated in the South and remains a dish we still associate with southern living. Jane Carson in Colonial Virginia Cookery (Williamsburg VA: 1968) describes recipes for Sweet Potato Pudding from cookbooks published in the 1760s. The pudding, with a crust cover, is actually a deep-dish one-crust pie.
George Washington Carver, best known for recipes using peanuts and tomatoes collected from southern housewives and farmers in the 1930s, published a smaller collection of sweet potato recipes, including pies. The recipes were published originally by Texas A&M University, through their Cooperative Extension Program. Recipes are adapted to modern measurement, and changes appear in parentheses.
George Washington Carver's Pie
- Boil two-to-three large sweet potatoes in their skins
- Cool slightly, mash and beat until light
- To a pint of mashed potatoes (2 cups), add ½ pint milk, ½ pint cream, and 4 beaten eggs; add 1 ½ teacups of sugar (est. ¾ cup) of sugar (less if the potatoes are very sweet
- Add cinnamon and ginger to taste (est. ½ tsp. each)
- One ground clove (est. ¼ tsp., scant) will improve it
- Bake with bottom crust only
George Washington Carver's Sliced Potato Pie
- Line a deep baking dish (9-inch pie pan) with a rich sheet of pastry (your favorite pie crust recipe for a 2-crust pie will be fine)
- Parboil the number of potatoes desired (5-6 large sweet potatoes)
- When two thirds done remove the skins, slice lengthwise, very thin, cover the dish to a depth of 2 inches and sprinkle with (est. ¼ tsp.) allspice and a dash of ginger, cloves and nutmeg (est. ½ tsp. each)
- Dot with a lump of butter the size of a hen's egg, one teacupful of sugar (1/2 cup) and ½ teacupful of molasses (1/4 cup)
- Add ½ pint cream, put it on top of the crust and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) until it's done
These two recipes are included because it is always fun to know the history of what you are cooking. And in the case of the first recipe cooks have made very few changes in ingredients or balance since the original was published. Sweet potato recipes appear in southern cookbooks because for many years sweet potato plants could not tolerate the cold of northern springs and falls.
Pumpkins and winter squashes, on the other hand, grew better in the North. But cooks are cooks, and they intelligently applied methods they knew to materials they had at hand.
The quickest, and most-frequently-used method for creating sweet potato pie is to substitute two cups of mashed sweet potato for the can of pumpkin used in a pumpkin pie recipe. Southern cooks surely did just that if they moved north, and vice versa.
Making Your Own Recipes
To make a standard recipe your own here are some variations gleaned from a wide variety of very similar recipes:
Beginning at the Bottom
Sweet potato pie does not require a plain pastry crust. Try a pre-made graham-cracker or even chocolate-crumb crust. Just as delicious is crushing enough ginger snaps to make two cups of crumbs. Blend that with three tablespoons of melted margarine or butter and spread in a nine-inch pie pan.
Changes and Additions to Sweet Potato Pie Filling
A number of recipes suggest baking rather than boiling sweet potatoes. This is easier on the cook and produces a more flavorful filling. Cool baked sweets just enough to handle. Then remove the skins and mash.
Your sweetening can be white sugar, a mixture of white and brown or a mixture of white sugar and molasses. This dish truly represents the saying sweeten to taste. Just remember not to taste it after you have added the eggs. Especially if you bake your potatoes, add a pinch of salt to the filling for balance.
Many pumpkin and sweet-potato pies suggest a few tablespoons of brandy, rum or bourbon whiskey. Skimp a bit on your milk or cream to make this possible if you'd like. You can also experiment with the extra sweetness contributed by a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
For a very stable never-watery custard, some cooks suggest using canned, evaporated milk in place of fresh milk or cream.
From whipped cream to miniature marshmallows toppings provide great scope for making your sweet potato pie distinctly yours. Crushed peanut brittle or toffee as a topping makes your pie seem even more southern. Peeled fresh orange sections or canned mandarin oranges brighten both taste and texture.