The Tale of Two Pies
A hotly debated topic that can lead to tempers flaring, lines being drawn and friendships lost. Pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie? Apparently this war has been raging on for years and I'm just new to the scene. When asked, without skipping a beat, many will state their preference. To me, the untrained pie eater, the quality of a pie is king. The filling to crust ratio along with the flavors, sweetness and salt determine a clear winner. I can't actually state a preference because I'd have to say it's all about accepting each one for what it is.
Sweet potato pie is a southern favorite while pumpkin pie seems to be popular generally around the United States. Dubbed as the sweet potato pie belt the Deep South particularly Mississippi are ardent sweet potato fans. In all other parts it seems pumpkin is king.
As this unending debate rages on I tried making a sweet potato pie since those are usually easily found year round in Florida. I've had store-bought ones but somehow they never swayed me to either pumpkin or sweet potato. In fact these overly sweet- jelly like store ones sometimes made me question pies altogether.
Hands down the first most important quality of a pie is homemade. Homemade means no silly preservatives, thickening agents or additives that mess with the pure delicious flavors of a good pie. Crust is everything. A good flaky, buttery and slightly salty crust balances against the sweet, spicy and thick filling. Let us put to rest with either sweet potato or pumpkin there is no such thing as a light and airy filling. These fillings are dense and rich putting a huge exclamation mark end to a meal.
Not a natural or professional baker, the crust recipe I used is from Dorie Greenspan albeit with a few tweaks. It is a phenomenal recipe and so very easy to follow. The filling is one I considered very thoroughly before I made it. I did not want the sweetness of the potato dominating the pie. I wanted each ingredient to shine yet harmonize. To make this pie particularly savory and rich I used brown butter and ricotta. In combination they further added a wonderful mouthfeel. Overall it was a hit. Shared with several friends I went home with an empty container but full of compliments. Several pumpkin fans enjoyed it and even expressed their surprise. Many believe they like one over the other but really I think it's time we just had some good homemade pie.
I still have no preference. After a lovely meal, good times spent with friends and family, when the pie arrives be it pumpkin or sweet potato I think I'd enjoy it either way.
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie
makes 2-9" pies
Prep Time: 1 hr
Bake Time: 1 hour
For 2 crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups butter plus 1 tablespoon ( 3 sticks plus 1 tablespoon), cut into 1 tablespoon size pieces
1/2 cup ice water
In a food processor with a metal blade, place the flour, sugar and salt. Pulse to combine.
Add in the butter slowly pulsing till the flour looks like it has pea sized butter incorporated.
While continuing to pulse add in the water. Pulse till dough looks evenly moistened. The dough should stick together when pinched.
Place dough onto a work surface. Cut into half. Form each into a disk.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Have 2 - 9 inch pie pans buttered and ready.
On a floured surface roll out the dough. Place pie pan on dough to measure if it can fit.
Roll an extra 1/4 inch of dough on the sides for the edges.
Refrigerate the crusts while you make the filling.
2 large sweet potatoes
1 cup ricotta
3 large eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup brown butter*, melted
1-1/2 tablespoons One Good Knife Pumpkin Spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup heavy cream
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Wrap the sweet potatoes in foil then place in the middle rack of the oven and roast for 40 minutes.
Check for doneness using a paring knife. It should pierce the sweet potato till the center with little or no resistance. Set aside to cool.
Once cooled peel the sweet potato.
In food processor blend the sweet potato till smooth.
Add in all ingredients except the heavy cream.
When blended pour contents into a bowl and gently whisk in the heavy cream.
Take the crusts out the refrigerator and fill each with half of the mixture.
Bake in the 375 degree F oven for 50 mins to 1 hour.
Allow to cool. Enjoy with freshly whipped cream and dusting of One Good Knife Pumpkin Spice on top.
* To make brown butter place stick of butter in a stainless steel pot. On a medium low heat let butter melt then simmer. Stir often. The milk solid will eventually separate. The solids will eventually start browning on the bottom of the pan. The aroma will turn nutty and butterscotch like. Take off the heat. Strain the solids and you now have brown butter.