Sweet Potato Pie With Pecan Crust
This silky spiced sweet potato pie with a nutty crunchy pecan crust is my favorite southern inspired sweet potato pie. Although this doesn’t look like a classic sweet potato pie because its made with purple sweet potatoes, all the classic flavours are still very much in there. It’s made with roasted sweet potatoes, butter, milk, eggs, brown sugar, and all the delicious warming spices that go into a classic. Roasting your own sweet potatoes adds depth of flavour and is always recommended. The twice baked or blind baked crust is slightly shaggier than a regular crust because of the pecans, but it comes together beautifully and has a nice bit of crunch to offset the pie’s creamy and delicious filling, and the nutty flavor plays well with all the warming spices.
There are so many different ways to make sweet potato pie and so many great recipes out there. This is one I love making from Tastingtable that always turns out well. It works beautifully with regular sweet potatoes or these beautiful purple ones. I have to say I was thrilled when I saw these guys. I have not cooked or baked with sweet potatoes in literally years. I had never seen them while living in Trinidad and very rarely when i was in Hamilton. So when I spotted them here at a Whole Foods in Toronto, I knew I needed to make my sweet potato pie using them. You will notice in the video that the colour of the filling changes three times. It goes from a very mellow subdued purple when it’s being blended to a brighter deeper one once it comes out of the oven then after it has cooked it transforms in to a more burgundy color tone in the purple. It’s so fun to use the purple variety of sweet potatoes but this pie can be made with any variety of sweet potatoes.
How to make pie crust
There’s a few things I have learned about pie crust and pie making over the years. I use to have a fear of pie dough but have since learned that it is actually quiet forgiving. A few key things that help make a great crust is making sure your butter is very cold. I usually chop it into cubes and stick them in a bowl in the freezer until I need them. Also do not add to much water to the dough even if you are tempted too. You just need to add enough to hydrate the dough. A shaggy dough out of the food processor is what you want. You can always add a touch more if needed but you can’t really take it back if you add too much. I strongly recommend making your dough the night before you need it. (Or even sooner - make ahead directions below). The dough behaves a lot better and responds better when being rolled rolled out if it has had ample to time to rest and hydrate. I haven’t researched to back this up, but I find that when I have let it rest overnight as opposed to just one hour there is generally less shrinkage that happens.
Speaking of shrinking another thing that helps prevent shrinkage is how you handle the dough especially when placing it into the pan. You should never stretch your pie dough while lifting it into the pan or pressing it into the sides. Always lift up and gently press it into the pan while keeping it lifted instead of pressing it while its seated - that will stretch it and it will create areas of shrinkage in the crust. You may also have noticed in the video that I use sugar as my pie weights. I learned about that from someone a while back (don’t remember who) but it’s my favourite way to weigh the crust down when I’m baking the crust twice. It fills the crust out more evenly than anything else i have used and I store the sugar in a container and keep reusing it in all my pies.
This is a very tasty pie that I would say is mildly spiced. If you would like to go heavier with the spices feel free to add more of any of them according to your taste. From the crust to the filling there’s so much to love about it. Both the crust and the filling are made in the food processor making it simple and quick to make. I serve mine with a dollop of whip cream and some extra chopped pecans. It’s a real treat! Enjoy!
For the Pecan Crust:
- 3½ ounces pecan halves (approx 1 cup)
- 6 ounces (1 ¼ cup) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold and cut into cubes
- 2 ounces (2 tbsp) ice water
For the Sweet Potato Filling:
- 4 small sweet potatoes (approx 2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground clove
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch of black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1¼ cups whole milk or cream
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 egg for egg wash
- Turbinado sugar (raw sugar) for sprinkling on crust (optional)
- For the crust: Place pecans in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the flour, salt, black pepper and the rest of the spices and pulse to combine.
- Add the the cold butter and pulse until pieces of butter are well frostbites and pea sized. Add the ice water and pulse a few times until loose dough forms. Empty out onto a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour or preferably overnight.
- For the sweet potato filling: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the sweet potatoes on a parchment-lined sheet tray and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven; let cool. Peel and scrape out the flesh, discarding the skin. You should have approx 2 cups of cooked sweet potatoes.
- Transfer the sweet potatoes, along with the remaining filling ingredients, into a food processor and purée until smooth; set aside.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer it to a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to an ⅛-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch nonstick pie pan (or a lightly greased one) and trim excess dough around the edge of the pan, fold edges under and crimp edges of the crust decoratively. Poke a hole in dough at the bottom of the pan using a fork and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the fridge. Place a large piece of parchment or foil over the pie dough and fill with dried beans, rice or sugar (to weigh down the crust).
- Bake dough until fragrant and light golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove the dough and discard the beans and parchment; let cool. Brush edges of crust with egg wash and sprinkle turbinado sugar over edges.
- Pour the sweet potato mixture into the pie and bake until the filling is just set, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing, about 2 hours. Serve with whip cream. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: This a can be made 1 day ahead - just cover tightly and store at room temperature. The pie dough can also be prepared ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Baked pie freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Adapted from Tasting Table