Sweet Potato Pie 8.000

Mark Finkenstaedt for The Washington Post; Styled by Lisa Cherkasky; Tableware from Crate and Barrel

Nov 18, 2009

This shouldn't taste like pumpkin pie, and it won't, especially if you do not over-process the sweet potatoes; the filling's texture should be coarse.

Serve with dollops of sweetened whipped cream, or see VARIATIONS (below).

Make Ahead: The dough for the crust needs at least 30 minutes' resting time in the refrigerator; or it can be made up to 2 days in advance, wrapped tightly and refrigerated. The pie can be baked, cooled, covered and refrigerated 2 days in advance.

Servings: 8 - 10
  • For the crust
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chilled vegetable shortening
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • For the filling
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups cooked mashed sweet potato (from about 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes)
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled


For the crust: Sift together the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.

Add the shortening and butter, using your fingers or a pastry cutter to work the mixture into the consistency of coarse meal.

Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, using a fork to mix after each addition. The dough should be just moist enough to hold together but not wet. Form the dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Lightly flour a work surface. Have ready a 9-inch pie plate, preferably glass or ceramic. Roll out the dough to an 11- or 12-inch circle. Carefully drape the dough over the pie plate so that the edges evenly hang over the rim. Use your fingers to tuck under and/or crimp the edges of the dough as desired.

For the filling: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together the eggs and sugars in a mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Add the sweet potato and stir until thoroughly incorporated, then add the half-and-half, butter, cinnamon, ginger and mace, stirring to combine. Pour into the pie shell. Sprinkle the pecans on top, if desired.

Place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Reduce the oven temperature to 350. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a thin knife inserted in the pie comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve cold or at room temperature. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired, or with the following toppings.

VARIATIONS: To make a flavored whipped cream, combine 1 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar (or to taste) and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg in a chilled bowl. Use a hand-held electric mixer to whip the cream to soft peaks. Mound on top of the baked, cooled pie; if desired, dust decoratively with a little ground cinnamon.

To make an Italian meringue, combine 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until it registers 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, forming a syrup. While it is cooking, use a hand-held electric mixer to beat 4 egg whites in a clean bowl to soft peaks. As soon as the syrup is ready, remove it from the heat. Reduce the speed to low; carefully add the syrup to the egg whites in a slow steady stream. Once all the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high and beat to form a meringue that is cooled, glossy and fluffy. Mound the meringue on top of the baked, cooled pie. If desired, place the pie under the broiler for a few minutes to brown just the top edges of the meringue (watch carefully to prevent burning) or use a culinary torch to brown it. Serve immediately.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Chesapeake Bay Cooking" (Broadway, 1998), by chef John Shields of Gertrude's in Baltimore.

Tested by Jane Touzalin.

E-mail questions to the Food Section.

E-mail questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.