Sweet Potato Pie

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie. Recipe from “Sweet Home Café Cookbook: A Celebration of African American Cooking” by National Museum of African American History and Culture. “If it is Thanksgiving in an African-American household, the pie at the center of the dessert spread is more likely made from sweet potato than pumpkin. This connection to sweet potatoes probably goes back to a time when the tubers were the only sweet treat available to many Southerners.”

3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1½ pounds)

Basic Pie Crust (see recipe)

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1¼ cups sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 pinch kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Whipped cream, for serving

1. Put the sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to boil over high heat. Boil until fork-tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and let cool to room temperature.

2. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a thickness of about ⅜ inch. Line a 9-inch pie dish with the dough, bringing it fully up the sides. Trim off any excess dough and crimp the edge. Place the pie dish in the refrigerator to allow the dough to firm up.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

4. When the sweet potatoes have cooled, peel them and place the flesh in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the potatoes until smooth. Next pass the mashed sweet potatoes through a strainer to remove any stringy fibers. Reserve the potatoes. Wipe the bowl and paddle clean and return to the mixer.

5. Add the butter and sugar to the mixer bowl and cream on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, lemon zest, and salt. Mix for another 30 seconds. Then, with the mixer speed set to low, add 1 egg at a time along with the vanilla extract and lemon juice, beating until fully incorporated. Finally, add the pureed sweet potatoes and mix for 1 minute longer.

6. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, until set. To check for doneness, insert a clean toothpick into the center of the pie and quickly remove it; if it comes out clean, the pie is done. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

7. Serve with whipped cream.

Basic Pie Crust

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie crust. Recipe is courtesy of Smithsonian Books. “The test of a good pie is a light, tender, flaky crust. To guarantee that result, use pastry flour and make sure your work surface and the dough are as cold as possible when you are rolling the dough out. Also, when making the dough, chill the water with ice cubes so the dough stays cold as you mix it.”

1 cup pastry flour

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes

2 tablespoons ice water

1. Set the flour and salt into a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is the consistency of pea-sized crumbs. Slowly add the cold water 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing just until a lightly moist dough is formed. The amount of water needed can vary; it can be more or less than the full amount.

2. Divide the dough in half and form into two balls. Tightly wrap each ball in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until needed. The dough should rest for at least 1 hour.

3. When ready to use, remove the dough from the refrigerator, allow to rest for 10 minutes and unwrap. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough as directed in individual recipes. For the best results, always work with cold dough.