Among my friends, only one stands out as a great fan and connoisseur of sweet potato pie. And so for Michael Stokes’ birthday last week, I knew exactly what to make. Michael grew up eating his mother’s delicious, rich sweet potato pie. While people all over the U.S. love sweet potatoes, they’re especially favored by Southerners, and by those who, like Michael, have family ties to the South. I know his mother’s pies were rich and delicious because I’ve tasted one he made from her recipe. A really good pie it was. My recipe is not as rich and not as sweet, but it is high in pure sweet potato flavor, and Michael ate it with great enthusiasm. In fact, that unfinished half pie in the photo? It went home with Michael. This is a pie I think you’d be happy to serve to all your family and friends anytime during the coming holiday season, and you’ll find the recipe after the jump..
Photos–Top: Michael relishes a piece of sweet potato pie for breakfast! Above: The pie just after it came out of the oven.
SWEET POTATO PIE
Yields one 10-inch pie, 8-10 servings / Preheat oven to 350˚ F
For the filling:
4 cups sweet potato purée seasoned with a little pinch of salt
3/4 cup thick coconut milk
1/2 cup rice syrup, or sweetener of choice (if using a more intense sweetener such as maple syrup or honey, start by using less)
1 tablespoon arrowroot or corn starch
grated zest of one orange
1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
1. If you haven’t already made the sweet potato purée: start with about 3 1/2 pounds of garnet yams or a similar sweet potato. Roast in a 400˚ F oven one hour to one hour and fifteen minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender to the touch. Reduce oven temperature to 350˚ F. Cool the sweet potatoes enough so you can peel them. Then purée in a food processor.
2. In a small mixing bowl, measure the other ingredients and whisk together.
3. Add these ingredients to the sweet potatoes and process until everything is thoroughly mixed and smooth. Set aside until the pie crust is ready.
For the crust:
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup chilled canola oil, or similar mild tasting oil
2 tablespoons thick coconut milk
1/4 cup ice water, or as needed
1. Measure the two flours and the salt into a small mixing bowl. Whisk in the chilled oil.
2. Stir in the coconut milk and ice water. Form into a ball. This should be moist and pliable, but not too wet. Add flour if it does seem too wet, water if it seems too dry.
3. Spread parchment paper over a cutting board, and sprinkle with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a circle large enough to fit a 10-inch pie pan and come up the sides.
4. When the dough is rolled out evenly and the right size, invert your pie pan over the dough. Then turn the cutting board over and allow the pie dough to gently fall into the pan. Press the crust into place. Cut the edges to make them even and crimp or flout them attractively. With a fork, poke some holes into the bottom crust so it doesn’t puff up.
5. Bake on the center shelf of a 350˚ F oven 5-7 minutes, or just until partially baked.
To finish the pie:
1. Pour the filling into the pre-baked crust. Smooth to make even.
2. Bake at 350˚ F 30-35 minutes or until the filling seems set.
3. Cool thoroughly before attempting to cut. Serve with a favorite whipped or frozen topping if you like.