Sweet Potato Pie

The following all took place in January, but until now I had nowhere to tell about it:

Leftover Thanksgiving yams were waiting in the freezer. They had been cooked with orange juice, butter, and a little brown sugar, and were carrying a label: “sweet potato pie?” At the time I squirreled them away I had the thought to layer them with black beans somehow in a savory pie. Today there was some creative energy to apply to the seed of an idea. I made a pat-in crust using spelt and barley flours and some dried mashed black beans (a kind that is designed to make instant black beans when you pour boiling water over them), and added some black pepper to the crust mix along with olive oil and half-and-half.

To the yams I added eggs and cream, and beat them up not too smoothly. Put the filling into the patted-in crust, and baked it at 400° for about 35 minutes, until it puffed up. Had it barely warm for dinner and I liked it a lot. The crust was more crunchy than flaky, and it was savory–the black bean mix must have had salt in it– and the filling had a nice texture and wasn’t too sweet to serve as a side dish. It was smooth and creamy and a pleasant contrast to the crust.

By the way, that pat-in crust, originally from the Amish, I have made in several variations and it is always good. I have made it a Lenten pie by using almond milk and walnut oil. I didn’t measure any of the filling ingredients this time, but I can give you the basic crust recipe here:

Pat-in-Pan Pie Crust
Single-crust 8-9” pie
Quick, crisp, but tender
(can’t be rolled)

1 ½ cups plus 3 tablespoons flour
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons cold milk

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a pie pan and mix with your fingers until blended. In a measuring cup beat the oil and milk with a fork until creamy. Pour liquid all at once over the flour mixture. Mix with the fork until completely moistened. Pat the dough with your fingers, first up the sides of the plate, then across the bottom. Flute the edges.

Shell is now ready to be filled. If you are preparing a shell to fill later, or your recipe requires a pre-baked crust, preheat oven to 425°. Prick the surface of the pastry with a fork and bake 15 minutes, checking often, and pricking more if needed.

For a 10” shell I used:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons milk (dairy or plant-based)

There you’ve got a wholesome-looking bunch of colors on one plate.

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