"Old-Fashioned" Sweet Potato Pie, For Pi Day

Published March 14, 2018 | By ashley english


Well, hellllllllo, long, lost blog! It’s hard to believe, but it’s been exactly ONE YEAR TO THE DAY since I last blogged. And mercy, what a year it has been! Traumatic, exhausting, humbling, exhilarating, surprising-all manner of descriptors apply to the chaos that 2017 visited upon our home. BUT, it’s a new year, and hope springs eternal, and Alistair, our Chicken Little who will be one year old (!!!) next month, has morphed into a plump, ginormous Foghorn Leghorn, crowing and strutting and keeping us on our toes.

Since it was Pi Day that we last connected, it seemed fitting to have this day herald my reentry to this space. On April 24th, Southern From Scratchwhich has been over 3 years in the works, publishes. It’s my highly personal guide to crafting what I consider a definitive southern pantry and kitchen, centered around my southern Appalachian culinary upbringing, and the area in which I’ve spent over half of my life.

The book is arranged into 8 chapters, each focusing on an area of a southern foods kitchen, including: Pickles & Relishes, Jams & Spreads, Sauces & Vinegars, Fruits & Vegetables, Dry Goods & Sundries, Fats & Meats, Icebox & Freezer, and Sweeteners & Desserts. Within those 8 chapters are 50 “base recipes, ” making up the bones of a southern foods kitchen, as it were. This is where you’ll find recipes for things like bacon, and buttermilk, and bread & butter pickles. Each base recipe then includes 1-3 iterations for use and application, such as taking that buttermilk you just made and rendering it into buttermilk-brined fried chicken, or that bacon and cooking it up into a bacon bourbon jam. Y’all feel me?

The “Old Fashioned” Sweet Potato Pie shown here is nestled under the “Pie Dough” recipe in the book. Glenn and I had fun with this one, marrying the bourbon, orange peel, and bitters of an Old Fashioned cocktail with the classic filling of a sweet potato pie. I think you’ll love it, too (and if you feel the need to partake of a slice WITH an actual Old Fashioned, well, then, I tip my hat to you).

To get you excited about the book’s publication, my publisher Roost has offered to mail an advance bookletout to anyone who preorders a copy. This preorder can be from Roost’s website, from your local independent bookseller, or from Amazon or another another online retailer. All you need to do is visit this link, plug in your mailing info and preorder confirmation code from your purchase, and Roost will mail you out a booklet. It’ll give you a sense of what the book looks like, as well as includes my recipes for Pickled Eggs, Peach Chutney, Barbeque Sauce, Pork Tenderloin with Cherry & Dried Fruit Compote, Hushpuppies, Succotash, and Buttermilk & Smoky Paprika Fried Chicken (these are all recipes included in the book, you’ll just be privy to them early!).

Like I said, it’s been a wild year. I kept wanting, and intending, to come back to this space sooner, but, well, it just didn’t happen. But I’m here now, and I’m ready, and I’ve missed this place. Let’s go bake a pie, and get reacquainted with each other, shall we?


“Old Fashioned” Sweet Potato Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie.

For the Filling:
-3 pounds sweet potatoes
-4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
-1 cup heavy cream
-4 tablespoons butter, cubed
-1/2 cup bourbon
-1/4 cup maple syrup
-1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-Grated peel of 2 oranges
-3 dashes bitters (such as Angostura)
-1 teaspoon orange extract

For the Egg Wash:
-l large egg yolk
-1 tablespoon cold water

To Make:

1. Prepare the crust (recipe follows). Remove one disk of the dough from the refrigerator. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface to an 11 to 12 inch circle.
2. Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie pan and trim the overhang to 1 inch. Crimp the edges decoratively, if desired.
3. Place the crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
4. Prepare the sweet potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prick the potatoes 3 to 4 times apiece with the tines of a kitchen fork.
5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the potatoes on the sheet and roast for 1 hour, until easily pierced with a fork. Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
6. Cool the potatoes 10 to 15 minutes, until they can be handled. Peel the skins off.
7. Put the potatoes in a food processor and puree until smooth. Alternately, mash them in a large bowl with a potato masher until fully softened and silky. If using a food processor, transfer the potato mash to a medium size mixing bowl when finished pureeing.
8. Prepare the filling. Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl. Beat until billowy peaks form. Set aside.
9. Add the heavy cream and butter to the bowl containing the mashed sweet potatoes. Whisk until the butter melts and the cream is well incorporated, then whisk in the egg yolks until fully combined.
10. Place the bourbon in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, boil for 1 to 2 minutes, and then stir in the maple syrup and brown sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and pour into the potato mixture. Whisk until well combined.
11. Add the salt, orange peel, bitters, and orange extract. Whisk until all of the ingredients are fully blended.
12. Add the beaten egg whites to the sweet potato mixture. Fold in gently with a spatula until the whites are fully incorporated.
13. Assemble the pie. Pour the filling into the chilled piecrust, using a spatula to distribute it evenly.
14. Whisk together the egg yolk and water in a small bowl, then use a pastry brush to brush the wash over the edges of the crust.
15. Bake in the 350 degree oven 60 to 70 minutes, until the filling is set and doesn’t jiggle when the pie pan is gently shaken.
16. Cool at least 1 hour before serving, so that the pie has time to set up and firm throughout.


Basic Pie Dough
Makes 2 pie dough disks

You Will Need:

-2½ cups all-purpose flour
-1¼ teaspoons salt
-1 cup butter, chilled and cubed
-¾ cup ice water

To Make:
Mix the flour and salt together in a medium-large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two forks incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (you should still have rather large bits of butter when you’re done). Slowly drizzle in the ice water. Stir with a mixing spoon until the dough starts to clump.

Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface, and fold it together into itself using your hands. The dough should come together easily but should not feel overly sticky. Cut the dough in half and shape into two balls. Wrap each dough ball in cellophane and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Proceed according to the recipe instructions. Alternately, store the dough disks in an airtight container or zippered freezer bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months (you’ll need to move the dough out of the freezer and into the refrigerator 24 hours before you plan to use it).

Ashley English