Sweet potato pie is an iconic African-American soul food dessert and a staple of Southern cuisine cherished during holidays and family gatherings. This dessert represents more than just food. It embodies tradition, evokes nostalgia, and may be single-handedly responsible for generations of warm memories – especially in the Black community.
So, knowing what mistakes to avoid when making sweet potato pie is integral to the legacy of this classic Southern dish.
- Using fresh, high-quality sweet potatoes is going to be critical for both flavor and texture.
- And the right combination of spices enhances the pie without dominating the sweet potato flavor.
The choice of potatoes and ingredients influences the final taste and the consistency of the pie filling.
But no worries. I’ve gotchu! The above tips are the first of a few simple steps I’ll share to help you avoid making mistakes when making sweet potato pie.
What kind of sweet potatoes should you use for pie?
The foundation of any stellar sweet potato pie starts with selecting fresh, high-quality sweet potatoes. The choice of these root vegetables is essential, as they impart a natural sweetness and creamy texture that is the hallmark of this beloved Southern soul food dessert.
Ideally, choose Garnet or Jewel sweet potatoes because they have juicy orange flesh and are perfect for mashing, pressure-cooking, roasting, and baking.
The best potatoes for sweet potato pie
- Garnet sweet potatoes – Known as the red yam, as identified by their reddish-purple skin. Garnets have a juicy orange flesh perfect for mashing and baking.
- Jewel sweet potatoes – Jewels are the Thanksgiving favorite, with a noticeably lighter light orange skin and brighter orange flesh. Packing a lot of moisture, this potato is excellent for baking, roasting, and pressure-cooking.
- Beauregard sweet potatoes – These large, elongated sweet potatoes have a reddish skin and orange flesh. With a slightly sweeter flavor than Jewel sweet potatoes, Beauregards are perfect for baking sweet treats.
- Stokes purple sweet potatoes – Can you use purple sweet potatoes in place of regular sweet potatoes? Yes! Offering a gorgeous color and firm texture, Stokes purple sweet potatoes are a unique variety with natural purple skin and rich purple flesh that color intensifies when cooked!
Making the right choices when selecting, preparing, and cooking sweet potatoes will significantly impact the final taste and texture of the pie. The smoothness, sweetness, and richness are all characteristics of an authentic Black folks’ sweet potato pie.
True to soul food cooking, the flavor in this recipe depends on the pie’s seasonings, spices, and ingredients – and even a secret ingredient (shhh!).
What does sweet potato pie contain?
More than just a treat, a Black folk’s sweet potato pie recipe, and its ingredients profoundly connect to Black history and cultural identity.
The pie’s significance at communal tables transcends mere taste, embodying a legacy of resilience and the shared joy of soul food.
It represents the warmth of home, the richness of tradition, and the inherited wisdom from ancestors who stirred love, hope, and endurance into every pie they made.
Sweet potato pie is not simply a dessert. It’s a cherished heirloom that narrates stories of past celebrations and communal bonds and is a testament to the persistent spirit of a people.
Black folks sweet potato pie ingredients
The secret to a delectable sweet potato pie lies not just in the softness of its filling or the flakiness of its crust, but equally in the enchanting dance of flavors that should flood the palate upon every bite.
The symphony of sweetness and spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, must be precisely orchestrated to ensure that neither component overpowers the other, creating a balance that can elevate the pie from simply satisfying to absolutely sublime.
Begin with a strategic approach to measuring spices to craft this perfect equilibrium. Use measuring spoons for accuracy to avoid mistakes, rather than estimating by eye, as even a pinch too much can skew the flavor profile and dominate the more subtle notes of the sweet potato pie filling.
Sweet Potatoes – The star of the show, sweet potatoes are rich in flavor and yield a naturally creamy texture when baked. Their inherent sweetness is the base for this indulgent dessert.
Sugar – A combination of granulated and brown sugar typically sweetens the pie. Brown sugar adds a caramel-like depth, enhancing the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes.
Butter – Unsalted butter is melted into the filling, giving the pie a luxurious, velvety consistency while contributing to its rich flavor.
Eggs – Essential for structure, eggs bind the ingredients together and help create a smooth and firm filling once the pie is cooked.
Evaporated milk: This concentrated milk adds creaminess without watering down the filling, complementing the smooth texture of sweet potato purée. (Or make this recipe with a condensed milk substitute HERE!)
Vanilla extract: A splash of vanilla extract infuses the pie with its sweet, aromatic essence, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
Spices – A fragrant blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove gives the pie its warm, comforting aroma and quintessential taste, tying together the sweetness with a hint of spice.
Salt – Just a pinch is enough to balance the sweetness and elevate the flavors within the pie.
Sweet potato pie crust
The foundation to any memorable sweet potato pie lies in its crust—a delicate balance of flakiness and buttery richness that sets the stage for the luscious filling. Because the pie crust is not merely a container but a crucial element that absorbs the flavors and spices of the filling. Creating a harmonious blend with every bite, paying homage to the culinary traditions that make sweet potato pie a timeless classic in African-American cuisine and Southern homes alike.
What are the mistakes to avoid when making sweet potato pie?
- Choosing sweet potatoes – Choose Garnet, Jewel, or Beauregard sweet potatoes because they have a sweeter orange flesh perfect for roasting, cooking, and baking. (Or choose Stokes purple sweet potatoes for a purple sweet potato pie!)
- Cooking the potatoes – Roasting, baking, or pressure cooking the sweet potatoes is recommended over boiling or steaming, as the intense heat breaks down the starches into sugars, resulting in a sweeter and more flavorful pie filling.
- Selecting spices – Selecting the right combination of spices enhances the pie without dominating the sweet potato flavor. For a Black folks’ sweet potato pie, never pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon and nutmeg are non-negotiable.
- Measuring – Use measuring spoons for accuracy to avoid mistakes, rather than estimating by eye.
- Pie filling – While many recipes call for adding flour for thickening, you don’t want to do this for a soul food sweet potato pie filling. It could compromise the unique Southern soul food flavors. Instead, ensure your sweet potato mixture is smooth and free of lumps. A velvety filling that has some texture and is not just a thin, runny purée.
- Baking – Unlike some pie recipes, there is no need to preheat your empty pie crust for this recipe. Doing this can cause your pie crust edges to burn. Instead, use a pie crust shield.
- Cooling – It’s best to let the pie cool and set it for at least 2-4 hours up to a whole day, making it easy to slice.
- Slicing – Slicing can be even simpler if you run your sharp knife on a chilled sweet potato pie. A perfect uniform slice will be in your hands if you refrigerate your sweet pie for an hour before cutting it.
Black folks sweet potato pie instructions
Below are simple instructions for making an easy sweet potato pie recipe:
- Grease the pie pan.
- Pressure cook or roast the sweet potatoes.
- Drain the cooked sweet potatoes.
- Peel the sweet potatoes.
- Gather the potato flesh.
- Mix the potato flesh, spices, and ingredients.
- Pour the filling into the pie crust.
- Bake the pie.
- Let the pie cool.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
*How to make sweet potato pie – See the recipe card below for a complete list of ingredients and instructions with step-by-step guided pictures.
The balance and quality of these ingredients are pivotal in creating a sweet potato pie that resonates with the heritage and palates of Black people and the way we cook.
Each component is chosen with care to contribute to a dessert that is much more than the sum of its parts but rather a symbol of tradition and cultural pride.
Selecting the right sweet potato type is crucial to creating the perfect pie. For the quintessential pie, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, often known as yams in US grocery stores, are the go-to choice.
Tips and tricks for baking the best sweet potato pie
Use these best practices below to avoid mistakes when making sweet potato pie.
- When selecting sweet potatoes, look for firm ones with no soft spots, bruises, or signs of sprouting.
- The skin should be tight and unwrinkled, ensuring the potato is fresh and will provide a concentrated flavor.
- Size can also play a role because medium-sized sweet potatoes are often the best for even cooking.
- Start by giving your sweet potatoes a good wash to clear any dirt from the skin.
- Roasting or pressure cooking the sweet potatoes is recommended over boiling or steaming, as the intense heat breaks down the starches into sugars, resulting in a sweeter and more flavorful pie filling.
- Cook them until tender through, which can be easily checked with a fork.
- You’ll probably have leftover sweet potato mix depending on how deep-dish your pie pan is. You can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. Or you can pour it into a Ziplock bag and freeze it for up to 3 months.
- You could also make mini sweet potato pies with any leftover pie filling.
- And don’t forget to use any leftover pie dough for the easiest Southern dessert ever – pie crust cookies!
Black folks sweet potato pie recipes
Which one is your favorite?
Mistakes to avoid when making sweet potato pie FAQs
What is the best way to cook sweet potatoes for sweet potato pie?
Roasting or pressure cooking the sweet potatoes is recommended over boiling or steaming, as the intense heat breaks down the starches into sugars, resulting in a sweeter and more flavorful pie filling.
How do you know when sweet potato pie is done baking?
A good indicator of when this pie recipe is done is when you can see the center of the pie filling puffing in the oven.
The key to a divine sweet potato pie lies not just in the ingredients or the crafting of the filling but also in the meticulous baking process.
Oven temperature is a pillar of pie baking, which, if underestimated, may lead to a pie that’s either too soft or frustratingly hard. Precise temperature ensures the filling sets beautifully, and the crust achieves that irresistible, golden-brown hue.
Further, the placement of the pie within the oven influences how the heat circulates and cooks the pie. Typically, the center rack offers the most consistent cooking environment, shielding your creation from the intense heat at the bottom or the top of your oven, which can be detrimental to your crust and filling.
Underbaking: Mistakes to avoid when making sweet potato pie include underbaking, where the filling may not set properly, leading to a runny or overly soft texture unfit for slicing.
Overbaking: Conversely, overbaking threatens the pie with a tough crust and dry, crumbly filling, stripping away the creaminess that characterizes a well-made sweet potato pie. By vigilantly monitoring your pie and adhering to the recipe’s recommended time and temperature, you’re well on your way to presenting a dessert that not only tastes delightful but manifests the perfect texture as well.
How do you get the strings out of sweet potatoes?
A blender, hand-held mixer, or electric stand mixer will round up and collect the strings on its mixer or blade, or it will dissolve them.
Why is your sweet potato pie runny?
The center of a sweet potato pie should be firm and not runny or jiggly when you remove the pie from the oven.
Pay close attention to the texture of your purée, ensuring it’s smooth and free of lumps for that velvety filling that’s both comforting and luxurious.
If your sweet potato pie turns out runny after baking – don’t fret! Instead, put it back in the oven for five-minute intervals until the filling is puffed and firm in the center.
Can you make sweet potato pie with canned sweet potatoes?
Nothing beats fresh potatoes for this incredible Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe. Still, you could use canned sweet potato reluctantly.
How long should a sweet potato pie sit before serving?
It’s best to let the pie cool and set it for a few hours up to a whole day, making it easy to slice.
What do you serve with sweet potato pie?
The visual allure of your sweet potato pie can be just as inviting as its taste. After all, you eat with your eyes first!
A beautifully presented pie sets the stage for a memorable dessert experience, where the first slice inevitably becomes a centerpiece moment. To truly captivate your guests, aim for that golden crust to be hinted with a glow of warm spices, beckoning from beneath a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Do you eat sweet potato pie hot or cold?
When serving, consider the temperature of the pie. A sweet potato pie is most indulgent when served slightly warm, allowing the flavors of the sweet potatoes and spices to fully emerge.
This slight warmth also plays well with cold toppings, creating an irresistible contrast in temperatures. However, ensure it’s cooled enough so the filling sets properly, ensuring the first slice comes out clean and picture-perfect!
While whipped cream is a classic accompaniment to sweet potato pies, don’t hesitate to get creative. A sprinkle of cinnamon or a pinch of nutmeg can further enhance the profiles of the spices within.
A spread of cream cheese can introduce a delightfully unexpected twist known as Southern sweet potato pie with cream cheese.
What is the difference between pumpkin and sweet potato pies?
If you ask Black folks, there is no debate about which is better. The answer is always sweet potato pie – as long as it’s made the Black folks’ soul food way!
You can learn more in my post about why Black people eat sweet potato pie instead of pumpkin pie.
What other recipes can you make with sweet potatoes?
From sweet potato pie to candied yams, check out these best soul food sweet potato recipes HERE.
Sweet potato pie Black History
Yes, and there’s a legacy and ancestral history to this Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe. A rich tapestry where each ingredient threads a narrative of Black folks’ stories, resilience, and joy within a culinary masterpiece specific to Black folks’ kitchens.
Baking the perfect sweet potato pie is an art form that combines fresh ingredients, precise spice measurement, and careful baking techniques to create a dessert that truly celebrates the flavors of the season.
Remember that starting with high-quality sweet potatoes and the right blend of spices is the foundation for a flavorful, mesmerizing pie!
Did you enjoy this guide about mistakes to avoid when making sweet potato pie?
Have you had it?
Would you make it?
Comment below and lemme know.
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Instant Pot electric pressure cooker
Instant Pot Omni Plus oven (optional)
Instant Pot Ace Plus blender or an electric mixer
- 1 ½ pound sweet potatoes washed and scrubbed (equals about 3 cups when softened and peeled)
- 12 oz evaporated milk 1 can
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 5 tablespoons butter unsalted butter, melted (or vegan butter)
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Grease a 9-inch pie pan and set it aside.
See my recipe HERE for homemade almond flour pie crust, or you can use a store-bought pie crust, dough, or pie shell that may or may not come with its own pie pan.
Pro tip: Use an Instant Pot pressure cooker to soften and peel the sweet potatoes quickly and almost effortlessly!
Open the Instant Pot lid and fill the stainless-steel inner pot with water to the ½ mark.
Add the scrubbed sweet potatoes to the pot of water.
Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is up – in the position for sealing) and pressure cook on high for 12 minutes to loosen the potato skin.
When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for at least 12 minutes.
To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
Pour the water and sweet potatoes into a colander in the sink to drain the hot water from the potatoes.
Once the sweet potatoes are cool to the touch, peel and discard the skin.
Gather 3 cups of sweet potato flesh.
Add to either the Instant Pot Ace blender or an electric mixer the sweet potato flesh, evaporated milk, brown sugar, egg, melted butter, vanilla extract, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt.
Pulse or mix until the ingredients are combined and smooth.
Pour the sweet potato mixture into the pie crust.
Bake the sweet potato pie at 350 degrees F: in a conventional oven for 28-30 minutes, in the Instant Pot Omni Plus oven for 24-26 minutes, or until the pie is puffed and firm in the center. (Remember that cooking appliance times and oven temperatures will vary.)
Allow the sweet potato pie to cool for at least 2-4 hours before garnishing or slicing.
Garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkled on top.
Serve this Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe warm and enjoy!
- Unlike some pie recipes, there is no need to pre-heat your empty pie crust for this Black folks’ sweet potato pie recipe. Doing this can cause your pie crust edges to burn.
- A good indicator of when this pie recipe is done is when you can see the center of the pie filling puffing in the oven.
- You’ll probably have leftover sweet potato mix, depending on how deep-dish your pie pan is. You can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. Or you can pour it into a Ziplock bag and freeze it for up to 3 months.
- You could also make mini-Black folks sweet potato pies with any leftover pie filling.
- And don’t forget to use any leftover pie dough for the easiest Southern dessert ever – pie crust cookies!
- It’s best to let the pie cool and set for a few hours up to a whole day before slicing.
Calories: 268kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 198mg | Potassium: 488mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 12243IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 179mg | Iron: 1mg
Source link : thesoulfoodpot.com