Friday, October 16, 2009

No Yankee Pies Here

I have a few precious memories of my paternal grandmother. She loved sweets and always had ice cream, butterscotch sauce, and maraschino cherries in stock. Although she had a color TV, I am pretty sure that it was bought no later than 1969. Her Christmas tree always had giant, colorful, and hot C7 bulbs. She often hummed, and she liked to sing in church.

There is one anecdote about her that I don't actually remember happening, but have heard my dad recount many times. At Thanksgiving dinner, when someone would inevitably bring a Pumpkin pie to the table, she would scrunch up her nose and pronounce "Pumpkin pie, that's Yankee!" She would then proceed to eat every bit of her slice.

It is because of this story that I made my first sweet potato pie while I was in college, cultivating my southern culinary roots. You see, if pumpkin pie is Yankee, then sweet potato pie is the pumpkin pie's quintessentially southern counterpart. They are like siblings who chose opposing sides in "The War of Northern Aggression." If you are a Yankee, please do not take offense. I like Yankees. I have many Yankee friends. Like my grandmother, I will eat a good slice of pumpkin pie. But I am southern, and must stay true to my roots.

The only issue that I have with sweet potato pie is that when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, a sweet potato casserole is one of the indispensable side dishes. A sweet potato pie is just redundant. You might as well stick with the typical, albeit Yankee, pumpkin pie and let the Pecan pie represent the south at Thanksgiving dinner. Sweet potato pie deserves to be a star, the southern belle of the dessert table. Enjoy this pie for a not-Thanksgiving feast.

Buttermilk Sweet Potato Pie

30 gingersnaps
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 dash cloves
1 dash nutmeg
1 dash cinnamon

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
8 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a food processor, blend the ginger snaps until coarsely ground. Add the 4 tablespoons melted butter, dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, and process until the butter is distributed. Pour the crumbs into a deep pie dish and press into the bottom and the sides. Bake at 325° for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and increase the oven temperature to 350°.

In a medium pot, place a steam basket and 1 to 2 inches of water. Put the sweet potatoes in the basket, cover, and steam for about 15 minutes. Allow the sweet potatoes to cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, blend the sweet potatoes until they are well pureed. Add the softened butter and sugars, and blend. Add the eggs, buttermilk, remaining spices, and vanilla, and blend on low until completely mixed.

Transfer the filling to the cooled pie crust. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 25 minutes (it will still be slightly jiggly in the center). Allow the pie to cool completely on a rack. Serve at room temperature, or cold.

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Sarah Barry Spooner said...

Cute story. I love being a southerner.

megan said...

I've never had sweet potato pie before. is the texture more similar to sweet potato casserole or to pumpkin pie? Thanks!

Barefoot Belle said...

Great question, Megan! I've never really thought about it. I think that it's up for debate, but I would say that the texture is closer to pumpkin pie (although sweet potato is less custard-like, and has a richer, sweeter flavor). If it is chilled, it will cut like a pumpkin pie, where as sweet potato casserole is usually "scooped".

Anonymous said...

Baby, it was your southern mama who always made the pumpkin pies. After grandmother said that several years in a row, I HAD to make a pumpkin pie every year JUST so we could hear her say that! You would not remember, but the first pumpkin pies that I made were in Macon. I cooked our pumpkin from Halloween and made the pies. I decided it was much easlier to use canned pumpkin after having watery pumpkin pies! Maybe if I had ROASTED the pumpkin, it would not have been so watery! ILY m

Anonymous said...

That looks delicious! And I have the same pie dish. =)

Lauren said...

Speaking of pecan pie, Paul Cooper's pecan pie might be the best I have ever tasted. Granted, I am a bit bias since I grew up with it. Have you ever made it?

SoupAddict said...

I've never made sweet potato pie before, but I think this will be the recipe that breaks that void. I even have the beautiful ruffly dish. :)

Anonymous said...

Is there a different way to steam the sweet potatoes? I dont think we have a steam basket

Barefoot Belle said...

Hi! You can bake the sweet potatoes whole (425 for about an hour) and then scoop the "meat" out of the skin, or you can peel and cube the potatoes and boil them, like you would to make mashed potatoes. Baking the potatoes would probably give more flavor.

rumpsfamily said... wife and at least one my kids really loved it.(the finicky one) I have made several before and I definetely liked this one the best, it was the buttermilk I
I guess.