Ah, the name itself conjures up thoughts of the South, and strolling through downtown on a humid summer evening, when you spot an all-night diner. You know the kind, the ones with the revolving dessert rack filled with a half-dozen types of pie: pecan pie, shoo-fly pie, coconut cream pie, and there, there on the second rack is a Buttermilk Sweet Potato Pie. “Hmm,” you say, “I’ve never had sweet potato pie.” Intrigued, you order it.
This is another recipe adapted from the Lee Brothers, Tom and Matt, and you can find it in their appropriately titled The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, which is a lot of fun to read, with some good-sounding recipes. You can expect us to try out more in the future. We did omit the lemon that was originally called for; maybe it’s just us, but it sounded strange in a sweet potato pie recipe.
Makes one nine-inch pie
First, if you use a recipe from elsewhere, please be aware that they probably didn’t weigh their potatoes before using them. We know this because we weighed the potatoes to match the recipe’s recommendations, and had too many potatoes left over. We’ve corrected that (but still erred on the generous side). Eggs: use the best possible. We’re believers in pastured or true free-range eggs. Buttermilk: you can scratch up some following this recipe. It’s less expensive and better. And, for the pie crust, see yesterday’s post.
Procedure in detail:
Cook potatoes. The original recipe called for steaming them; we opted for the microwave. We popped them in a covered dish for about 10 minutes. Done. Steamed to perfection. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Mash and measure potatoes. With a fork, or a potato masher, mash the sweet potatoes until smooth. Measure out 1 1/4 cups of sweet potato purée. Eat any remaining potatoes. Or, at least set them aside for another dish.
Add butter and spices. Put the 1 1/4 cups of potatoes back in the bowl, and mash or stir them together with the melted butter, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks until light and smooth, about 30 seconds. While still whisking, gradually add the sugar and whisk until thick and bright lemon-yellow in color, about 2 minutes.
Add egg yolks. Scrape the egg yolk/sugar mixture into the sweet potato mixture and stir until well blended and uniform in appearance.
Add flour. Sprinkle one tablespoon of flour over the filling. Stir until mixed. Repeat with the second tablespoon of flour.
Add buttermilk. Add the buttermilk and stir until the filling is smooth and uniform.
Whip egg whites. Using a mixer with a clean dry bowl, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. If you want, you can add just a pinch of cream of tartar to make it easier and faster.
Fold in egg whites. Using a spatula, gently fold in the egg whites until completely incorporated and the batter is uniform. No egg white streaks allowed.
Pour into shell. Pour the batter into your fully baked crust and smooth the top.
Bake. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until set in the center. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
Cool. Place on a rack and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.
We had high hopes for this pie. With the separated eggs and the whipped egg whites, we though that we’d be biting into a light, fluffy sweet potato pie with a slight tang from the buttermilk. But, while it was light, it wasn’t light enough. Not for the trouble of separating eggs and whipping up the whites. Nor any real tang. It was basically like a pumpkin pie involving a bit more work — we’ll make our next sweet potato pie using a pumpkin pie recipe. Overall, it gets three stars just because making pumpkin pies is much easier.