Thursday, November 22, 2012

Petite Sweet Potato Pie

Southern style cookin' for Thanksgiving!

     Sweet potato pie is popular during the winter holidays.  For many people, sweet potato pie is a favorite any day of the year!  There are many versions of sweet potato pie.  It seems like every southern family has their own favorite way of making sweet potato pie.  
     Soul food, down home food, country food or southern food?  It does not really matter what label you wish to use for this American style of cooking.  The origins of the sweet potato are in Central America and South America.  Long before europeans settled in America, sweet potatoes were used in all Native American cuisines.  
     Shortly after the English settlers started to build colonies on this side of the big pond, sweet potato pie came to be.  Because sweet potato plants flourish in warmer weather, sweet potatoes were more commonly found in southern cuisine.  To this day, many Americans that live in northern states have never heard of sweet potato pie.  The main exception are the descendants of Afro Americans who fled to the north during and after the age of slavery.  Sweet potato pie can be found on the menu at modern northern soul food restaurants as well as nearly all traditional southern restaurant menus.
     As a member of one of the oldest families in America, I hope y'all really have a nice Thanksgiving and learn what Thanksgiving is really all about.

     This recipe makes one petite size sweet potato pie!  You can make several small pies for guests or one big sweet potato pie instead.  Small individual pies are a modern trend.

     Pate Brisee Recipe:
     Place about 1 cup of flour into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 3/4 tablespoon of sugar.
     Rice the flour by adding a few drops of ice water at a time while stirring with a whisk.  (The flour should look like grains of rice.)
     Cut 1 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter into pea size pieces and drop them in a bowl of ice water.
     Cut a few pieces of the chilled hard butter at a time into the riced flour.  (Use a pastry dough cutter or the end of a wire whisk.)
     Work and press the dough lightly with your fingers and for a minimal period of time leaving exposed small pieces of butter.
     Chill the dough, till it becomes very firm.
     Roll the pate brisee into a thin sheet on a floured counter top.  (The sheet of pate brisee should show thin streaks of butter!  This is what will give the pate brisee a flakey crusty texture.)
     Refrigerate the sheet of pate brisee, till it becomes firm again. 

     Sweet Potato:
     Bake 1 sweet potato in a 350 degree oven, till it become soft.
     Chill the baked sweet potato in a refrigerator.
     Peel the skin off of the sweet potato.
     Cut the sweet potato into 3/8" thick slices and set them aside.

     Pie Shell:
     I used a 5" wide and 2" deep pop-ring mold for the pie in the photographs.  Use a petite individual size pie mold of your choice.
     Press the pate brisee into place in a small pie mold that is lightly brushed with melted unsalted butter.
     Trim off the excess dough.
     Form a crust or use egg wash to attach a fancy crust.  
     Note:  The fancy pie crust in the photographs was made by cutting 3 thin long strips of pie dough and twisting them like a rope.  The rope crust was cut to length, glued in place with egg wash and the rope crust was brushed with egg wash. 

     Petite Sweet Potato Pie:
     Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar on the bottom of the pie shell.
     Place a layer of the reserved sliced baked sweet potato in the pie.
     Fill in any gaps with bits of baked sweet potato.
     Sprinkle 1 tiny pinch of allspice over the sweet potato.
     Sprinkle 1 tiny pinch of cinnamon over the sweet potato.
     Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of brown sugar over the sweet potato slices.
     Repeat the previous 5 steps till the pie shell is about 2/3 full.
     Spread a thin layer of coarsely mashed sweet potato over the pie filling, but only fill the pie shell till it is about 3/16" from the top.
     Sprinkle a very thin layer of brown sugar over the mashed sweet potato.
     Slowly pour 1 teaspoon of sour mash bourbon whiskey over the brown sugar.
     Gently press a few pecan halves or walnut halves on the surface of the pie filling.  (I used walnut halves.)
     Drizzle a little bit of honey over nut halves.
     Sprinkle a couple pinches of brown sugar over the nut halves. 
     Place the molded pie on a baking pan.
     Bake in a 350 degree oven, till the crust turns a golden brown color.
     Allow the pie to cool to room temperature.
     Remove the pop-ring mold.  (If you used a regular pie tin, then removing the pie is optional.)
     Use a pastry bag with a star tip to pipe whipped around the crust and on the middle of the pie.  

     Whipped cream is about the only thing that will give this pie a lighter feel!  A good sweet potato pie is filling and satisfying at the same time.  The brown sugar turns into a syrup and combines with the mashed sweet potato.  This is a nice style of southern sweet potato pie!  Yum!  ...  Shawna 

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