I cannot imagine a holiday without this traditional Southern pie on the table. I use almost every spice in the cabinet to add depth and warmth to the silky filling. Serve it with a big dollop of whipped cream, with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg on top.
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (1 to 2 sweet potatoes), or 2 cups canned sweet potato puree
1 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sorghum or blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 recipe Shortcut Piecrust made with brown sugar, prebaked
1 recipe Fresh Whipped Cream, optional
Freshly grated nutmeg, optional
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F if using whole sweet potatoes, or to 350°F if using canned sweet potatoes.
If using whole sweet potatoes, wrap them in foil and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until fork-tender. Set aside to cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
Unwrap the sweet potatoes and peel them. Measure out 2 cups of the potatoes, put them in a medium bowl, and mash with a fork until smooth. Or, if using canned sweet potatoes, put them in a medium bowl.
Add the heavy cream, eggs, and sorghum or molasses to the sweet potatoes and whisk until fully incorporated.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars, flour, cardamom, cloves, mace, ginger, and salt. Add the sweet potato mixture and stir until smooth.
Pour the filling into the prebaked piecrust and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the filling is firm around the edges but still jiggles slightly in the center when you shake it; the filling will continue to firm up as it cools. Let cool completely.
Pile the whipped cream on top of the pie with a spatula and sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg, if desired. The pie is best served the same day, but it can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Excerpted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2012. Photographs by Squire Fox.
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