Inspired by fruit pies with beautifully arranged layers, this dessert requires you to thinly slice the sweet potatoes. The trade-off is that it's otherwise so easy: no preboiling or roasting of the sweet potatoes, no making of a pureed, custardy filling. Instead, the slices soak up a brushed-on combination of butter, sugar and Persian spices as they bake and cool.
Make Ahead: The pie dough needs a first rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour and up to 2 days. The pie crust can be refrigerated, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. The pie can be baked, cooled and refrigerated, covered in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Yield: Makes one 9-inch pie
- For the crust
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) frozen unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, plus more for the pie plate
- 2 1/2 tablespoons frozen vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
- 1/4 cup ice cold water
- For the filling
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon rose water
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes of similar size, peeled
For the crust: Combine the flour, granulated sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and shortening and pulse briefly, just until the pieces are pea size. Add 1 tablespoon of the water at a time and pulse, adding water until you can pinch the dough and it barely sticks together. Transfer to a work surface, gather it up and form it into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
Grease a 9-inch pie plate with a little butter.
Roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap to a width of 12 inches, making sure to turn the dough over often and to lift the plastic frequently so that it doesn't roll into the dough and form creases. Trim off the overhang, crimp the dough’s edges, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
For the filling: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it foams, add the cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, pepper and coriander. The spices will bubble and bloom for a few seconds; stir to prevent burning. Stir in the rose water (to taste) and the brown sugar; cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until the mixture is blended. (The sugar will not fully dissolve; that's okay.) Cool slightly in the pan.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Use a mandoline or a very sharp knife to cut the pieces into 1/8-inch half moons.
Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator. Arrange the sweet potato slices in the crust, standing them with the curved side up and the straight edge down, overlapping them tightly around the edges of the crust and continuing to work your way around until the crust is filled. You might have some sweet potato slices left over; feel free to artfully tuck them in here and there, or reserve them for another use.
Spoon the butter-sugar mixture over the sweet potatoes, using your fingers to make sure the potatoes are evenly coated. Bake until the sweet potatoes are very tender and the crust has browned, about 1 hour. (If the crust browns before the sweet potatoes soften, loosely tent the pie with aluminum foil or cover the crust edges with foil, and continue baking.)
Cool the pie completely; if any of the butter had pooled around the potato slices in the oven, it will be absorbed as the pie cools.
From Food editor Joe Yonan, author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook" (Ten Speed Press, 2013), with a crust adapted from Dorie Greenspan's in "Baking: From My Home to Yours" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006).
Tested by Helen Horton.
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