I love sweet potato pie but I won't eat just anyone's. Remember a few years ago when people were going insane trying to find a Patti Labelle pre-made pie at Walmart? Well, not me. It's not that I don't inherently trust the food that Auntie Patti makes, she looks like she can throw down. It's just, I'm spoiled. I believe in my heart that my mom and grandmother make THE best sweet potato pie on earth.
A few years ago, when Shep and I were "shacking up" as the old folks call it, my grandmother flew to Atlanta to visit a few weeks ahead of Thanksgiving and showed me how to make her pie. I've made it this way ever since.
One of the things that I think makes this recipe stand out, is how balanced it is flavor wise. Not too sweet, not too much spice and just the creamiest texture you'll find. I enjoy eating a slice or two Thanksgiving Day and then a slice the next day for breakfast a long side a strong cup of coffee.
For this recipe, I use store-bought frozen pie crust as opposed to making my own. I want to be the person who does make their own from scratch but honestly, I don't have the time. I prefer to use either Marie Callender's Pie Shells or Pillsbury Frozen Deep Dish Pie Crusts. I think they tastes the most homemade and the flakey, buttercrust is damn delicious.
You'll notice that the recipe calls for a few things that may differ from the way you've made your sweet potato pie in the past and I wanted to call some of those out and tell you why I make my pie this way.
Baked vs. Boiled Sweet Potatoes
Baking the sweet potatoes helps to caramelize the natural sugars and gives you that uniformed, not stringy texture you can sometimes get in sweet potato pies. Boiling the potatoes produces a more waterlogged dessert and that's gross. Plus, you're boiling all of the flavor away. Don't do it.
Why Did You Add Cornstarch?
It helps to bind the batter together and again, just creates a nice custardy filing.
What's The Point Of Adding Bourbon?
I personally love the way bourbon and vanilla play off of each other and while all of the alcohol will bake off in the oven, the left behind flavor is just that much better. Think vanilla bean, with an extra punch. If you don't want to add it you don't have to, or if you have a dark rum, brandy or cognac instead, feel free to add that!
What is Blind Baking?
Blind baking a pie crust is when you pre-cook a pie crust before adding any filing. This helps to make sure your pie cooks uniformly (i.e., you don't have a mushy gross mass of raw dough in your pie). It's important to weight you pie dough down before blind baking so it doesn't puff up with air pockets. To do this, cover the pie shell with parchment paper (not foil, it sticks!) and weight it down with either some old beans or pie weights.
There are a lot of ways to make sweet potato pie, but this is the one we have at our Thanksgiving table. I hope it finds a place at yours this year as well!