Brixton Recipes: Sweet Potato Pie

unbaked sweet potato pie

As the nights draw in and the temperature get colder, the vegetables get more brighter and more orange. From a variety of squash to plump pumpkins to sweet potatoes, you can’t escape them at this time of year. So after a week or two, you might be looking for new ideas for using them which is where this pie comes in.

It’s a version of the better known pumpkin pie, but the soft sweet potatoes combine with evaporated milk and eggs and spices to make a light sweet custard filled pie that’s perfect for either a Halloween or Bonfire Night party.

I’ve given a recipe for homemade pastry but if you’re in a rush you can buy a good all butter shortcrust version and go from there. Or if you don’t eat wheat or gluten, simply put the custard filling in ramekins and bake in a bain-marie instead. Just don’t do what I did and drop the pie part way through baking or it’ll be a very simple but show stopping dessert.

Sweet Potato Pie (makes one 9 inch pie)

For the pastry:

  • 240g plain flour
  • 120g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 4 tablespoons yoghurt or buttermilk

For the pie filling:

  • 250g sweet potatoes, peeled and boiled
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 25g butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 25g sugar
  • 250ml evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, separated

Start by making your pastry as it needs time to chill well. Put the flour in a large bowl and add the butter. Using a potato masher, break the butter up into the flour. This keeps the butter colder and therefore the pastry lighter and crumblier. When the butter is almost totally broken up, use your fingertips to rub it in completely so it looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Add the yoghurt or buttermilk a tablespoon at a time, bringing the mixture together with your hand to form a soft, slightly sticky pastry that comes away cleanly from the bowl. You may not need all the yoghurt as you don’t want wet pastry or you’ll get the dreaded soggy bottom on the pie.

Wrap the pastry in clingfilm, flattening it out into a disc and chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. When you are ready to roll it, put it between two sheets of greaseproof paper first. The softness of the pastry makes it impossible to roll even on a floured surface.

Roll the pastry out to about 1/4 inch thick and use greaseproof paper to lift it up and into a 9 inch loose bottomed tart tin. Cut a bit of the excess pastry off and use it to press the pastry into the edges of the tin. Pop the lined tin in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill again. Keeping the pastry cold and not handling if possible keeps it from shrinking in the oven.

Line the pastry filled tin with one of the sheets of greaseproof paper and fill it with raw rice or dried beans and bake at 180℃ for 25 minutes. This is called blind baking and means the pastry is nice and crisp before you add the filling. After 25 minutes, take the pie out of the oven, remove the greaseproof paper and allow to cool.

You can now turn your attention to the filling. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1 inch cubes. Add to a large pan and boil for 15-20 minutes on a medium high heat and then drain well. Put back in the pan and mash well. Beat the golden syrup and butter too and then add all the spices. Allow to sit for 10 minutes and use a stick blender to get the whole mixture as smooth as possible.

Keeping the sweet potato mixture just warm, add the sugar, vanilla, evaporated milk and the egg yolks to it, beating well until you have a gorgeous smooth custard that smells amazing. Take off the heat and set aside.

Using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks and then fold them into the sweet potato mix. Use small quick motions instead of stirring to keep the air in and make the custard light and fluffy. Pour the custard mix into the pie shell and bake for 25 minutes on 180℃ until it is just set and smooth and shimmering on the surface.

Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature for best results. The pie can be made the day in advance and stored in the fridge and any leftovers will keep for a day or two. I had no leftovers from mine, just a few crumbs and a lot of appreciative guests. This is a much better winter warmer than a pumpkin spice latte for sure!