Growing up Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving means mass amounts of delicious food, my birthday, gumbo and my grandmother’s sweet potato pie. No pumpkin for us, sweet potatoes were all we needed to be happy.
I am 100% convinced that I had the best grandparents anyone could ever have and I will never be told otherwise. These are people who taught me that the best part of the holiday season is being with the people you love and eating great food. And of course, grandmothers always make the best food. I know that no matter how hard I try my sweet potato pie will never live up to the standards my grandmother has set. She never wrote the recipe down, but instead taught it to my mom and aunt. However, neither of them are regular bakers. I worked with the information that I had and my mother says I’m pretty close. However, next time I would add a bit more melted butter and plain sugar. At this point, it’s all about just adding a little here and there until it tastes perfect. However, if I must say so myself, in general I think I make a slammin sweet potato pie. Keep reading for, what is at the moment, the closest thing to my grandmother’s recipe for sweet potato pie.
1½ cups of All-Purpose Flour
¾ teaspoon of Salt
2 tablespoons of Sugar
Pinch of Baking Powder
¼ cup (half a stick) of Cold Butter
¼ cup of Vegetable Oil
2 tablespoons of Milk
2 cups of Mashed Sweet Potatoes
¾ cup of Brown Sugar
½ cup of Plain Sugar
Pinch of Salt
½ teaspoon of Cinnamon
½ teaspoon of Nutmeg
¼ cup of Melted Butter
12 oz Can of Evaporated Milk
1 tablespoon of Vanilla
(1) Boil 2 large sweet potatoes in a large pot with a cover for about an hour. (The potatoes should be very tender. After an hour, if a regular butter knife can easily cut through the potato, it’s ready). While this boils, you can start on your crust.
(2) Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, powder and salt) into a medium-sized bowl. Take the cold butter and you can either cut it up into small cubes or grate it on a cheese grater. (I’ve found that I like grating the butter instead of cutting into cubes. The butter melts so quickly, that when cutting it into cubes it get messy). After you’ve cut or grated the butter, put it back in the freezer for about 10 minutes so it can harden again. Add the cold butter to the flour mix and begin mixing it together with your fingers. You’ll want to make sure all the butter is covered in flour and it may even start to stick together a little bit.
(3) In a separate small bowl, mix together the milk and oil. Pour the milk and oil into the flour mixture. With either a fork or a pastry blender, mix together so that all of the flour has been touched by the oil and milk. (Don’t worry that a ball of dough isn’t forming. This pie crust isn’t going to be rolled but is going to be pressed into the pie pan. My Pyrex pie pan was too large, so I used a 10″ tin pan that you can get at any grocery store and it worked just fine). Dump the dough into the pie pan and press the dough evenly to the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan. (You’re never going to get it perfectly smooth so don’t worry so much about finger marks. Just try to make it as even as possible). When done, put the dough and pie plate in the freezer until you are ready to fill it.
(5) Once your sweet potatoes are tender enough, take them out of the pan to cool down. While cooling, begin to preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Once cooled, cut them into slices and/or cubes and mash in a separate bowl. From that separate bowl, take 2 cups of the mashed sweet potatoes and put it in a mixing bowl. (You’ll likely have some leftover mashed sweet potatoes. Just throw some brown sugar or cinnamon and sugar on them and have as a healthy mid-day snack).
(6) Add the brown sugar, plain sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to the mashed sweet potatoes and beat until combined. Next, add in the melted butter, evaporated milk, vanilla and eggs, stirring thoroughly between each addition. (If you really wanted to you could beat this with an electric mixer, but the milk will likely spray out and make a mess of your kitchen. Therefore, stirring by hand is likely best).
(7) Remove your pie crust from the freezer and pour the sweet potato filling. The filling will be thin, as seen in the picture above, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. (Because of this make sure to not fill the pie crust up too high or else when transferring it to the oven it may spill.)
(8) Cook for about 1 hour. When the pie is done, the crust should be browning and the filling should look set with the center of the pie jiggling a little when moved and shaken.
Recipe Adapted from my wonderful grandmother Vennie Mae Watson.