Photo by Judith Hausman
I’m from Southern New York, yes, but I certainly didn’t grow up with sweet potato pie. Still, even post-holidays, its homey spices sing to me. The texture and flavors are very similar to a pumpkin pie; in fact, this recipe works fine with pureed squash or pumpkin, but the sweet potato is inflected a little differently, with a glossy, rich surface that begs for vanilla ice cream or a dollop of crème fraiche.
Recipes often call for a graham cracker and/or crumb crust, but I gave in to an after-dinner impulse with this pie, so I used a good-quality, whole-wheat, commercial crust I already had in the freezer. If you omit a crust altogether, you can call it sweet potato pudding or even flan. You have permission to use canned sweet potatoes for the same reasons, although watch for the goopy syrup they often come in; you might need to adjust the sweetening as a result.
For a fancier, somewhat lighter pie, add only the yolks to the mix and then whip the whites until stiff and fold them into the filling before spooning it all into the crust. Then you can call it sweet-potato soufflé.
- one prepared pie crust of your choosing
- 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 3/4 cup milk or buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook, drain and mash the sweet potatoes, or put them into a food processor bowl with all other ingredients. Process until smooth and pour into the prepared crust. Bake for 10 minutes at 400; turn the oven down to 350 for 25 to 35 more minutes until set and just browning.