Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie

It's always sounded sort of yummy to me, but I am typically not enamored of Southern cooking.

Enter my darling Matt, who took me out to the Delta Cafe and Bar in Portland, OR.

I am suddenly in LOVE with Southern food, and my interest in Sweet Potato Pie is renewed.

Given the opportunity, when I am stressed, I cook.  It doesn't matter so much what it is, as long as it's for someone else.  I've had a lot to be stressed about this week.  Well, maybe the last few weeks, or months.  It all hit me as much too hard to deal with yesterday.  An open to close shift and too many days in a row at work, lots of the little "things" that get in the way of life, and to top it off, a mass text from my dad notifying me that my grandma was headed for an emergency surgery.  Prognosis?  Not good.  Likely that either the surgery would kill her, or the infection would.  No option to leave work, so I needed something to focus on so I wouldn't cry. Unfortunately work was slow, painfully so.  So I baked.

Started out with the crust.  Making it by hand takes focus and hard work, good for time spent thinking, or not thinking, whichever you choose.

In a large mixing bowl, combine approximately 5 cups white flour,
                                                                       1 pound real butter, (softened)
                                                                       1/2 cup white sugar,
                                                                       2 teaspoons salt
Mixture will be dry, but hold together if squeezed hard. Works best if you mix with clean hands,
or a fork, otherwise you over-manipulate it.  If it's not dry, add more flour, a little at a time.

Slowly sprinkle water, one teaspoon at a time, over the mixture until you can form a large ball.
It will still be dry, and will break apart rather than stretch apart if you try to split it.

On a well-floured surface, roll it out to the desired size and thickness.  I suggest a quarter inch
thickness, as this crust is really yummy (think butter shortbread), and will add another flavor
dimension to whatever you use it for.

Bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes, or until light golden brown.  Remove from the oven
fill with your favorite pie filling.  You don't need to worry about foiling the edges of this crust,
unless your pie of choice requires over an hour of baking time.

Then I made the filling.  Never having made Sweet Potato Pie, (and I haven't a clue why I continue to capitalize the term...), it was an experiment, and luckily, one that turned out quite successfully.

In a large mixing bowl, cream approximately 2 pounds baked sweet potato,
                                                                   1 pound real butter, (softened)
                                                                   1 cup white sugar,
                                                                   1 cup brown sugar,
                                                                   2 tablespoons ground cinnamon,
                                                                   1 tablespoon ground nutmeg,
                                                                   1 teaspoon Anaheim chili powder

Once mixture is smooth and well incorporated, add 4 eggs, mixing well after adding each egg.

Pour into pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the
center comes out nearly clean.  This Sweet Potato Pie filling rises akin to a souffle, but will settle
a bit as it cools.  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whip cream, or just eat on its own.

I doubt that this will pass muster if any of you reading are a true Southern chef, but it made a passable pie, tasted amazing, and the primary ingredient was sweet potatoes, so I'm calling it Sweet Potato Pie.

Some of you can attest to the means by which I cook and bake, so the measurements listed above are my best approximations.  You should get an incredibly yummy pie out of the deal, but if my measurements fail you, let me know.  I'll make it again and pay more attention to the amounts needed.

Oh, and I got a Christmas miracle a bit early, my grandma came through her surgery and off the ventilator sooner than anyone thought she would.  She's in pain, and still sick, but lucid and alert.  Thank you for the thoughts and prayers.


PS ~  Pie filling recipe makes enough for two 9 inch pies.

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