Sweet potato pie

I’m really excited about two things right now. It officially feels like fall (I love seasons! Being from AZ does that to you) and this cookbook I picked up in Louisiana this week:

Yummmmmmmmmmmm. Yum.

I can’t tell you how good it felt to bake today. I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Obviously, southern pies are pretty much the antithesis of eating vegan — a goal of mine until after the marathon — but I was happy to discover that with a couple of adjustments I was able to make a fantastic sweet potato pie.

Whenever I’m trying to convert a recipe to vegan I struggle the most with finding a substitute for eggs. Yes, bananas and applesauce often work… but, they aren’t always right consistency wise. So, I’m really grateful to my colleague Jenny for introducing me to this egg replacer. (It’s potato starch.)

1.5 tablespoons of the mix + 2 tabelspoons of hot water = one egg.

I also really like the 70s color scheme on the box. It was a theme of the day, see:

I've had this dress since I was like 20. It will never stop being the best dress ever.

This pie is easy to make and if you’ve made pumpkin pie before, the ingredients are going to seem really familiar to you. An important note : I definitely Portlandized the ingredients — for example, egg replacer instead of eggs, Earth First instead of butter, powdered soy instead of powdered milk, agave instead of sugar, whole wheat flour –so I’ll list the truly Southern ingredients in parenthesis. Since anything lacking at least a pound of butter can’t qualify as real Southern cookin’ I suppose this sweet potato pie is just inspired by the South.

As a side note, I recommend having The Wonder Years on Netflix streaming while baking. I think that was a key ingredient for my enjoyment in baking this pie.

Here’s what you’ll need for the filling:

  • 1.5 pounds of sweet potatoes. I used the white sweet potatoes. Next time I think I’ll mix in some yams just to have some color.
  • 1/2 cup of agave (1 cup sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Just a note? I think next time I’d actually double or triple these amounts for more flavor, especially since I don’t use much sugar.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups of soy powder (evaporated milk.)
  • 3 tablespoons of egg replacer, whipped to foam with hot water (2 eggs)
  •  3 tablespoons of Earth Balance (butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients ready to get mixed together. Those pumpkins aren't part of it - they're sitting there waiting for me to do something with them later this week.

Some of the steps to make this filling take a while, including the first step: prepping the potatoes. We all know there are just some prep tasks that really suck. Pitting cherries. Grating lemon zest. Peeling potatoes. Suck, suck, suck. So, I recommend the following method to make the peeling process easier:

Step 1: Boil the potatoes in a big pot. (Or if you’re like me and lack a big pot, two small pots.) Bring the to a rolling boil, turn down the heat a big and let them cook until they’re very, very tender. I found this took about 30 minutes.  While the potatoes are boiling, I recommend going and making your crust.

Step 2: Once the potatoes are very, very tender, drain them and set them aside until they’re cool enough to handle. Slide the peels off like so and put into a big mixing bowl:

Peeling potatoes made easy.

Step 3: Mash the potatoes. This is easiest if you have a food processor. I do not have a food processor, so as usual, I mashed them up with my hands. It took forever to get them smooth, which was ok with me since my crust needed to refrigerate anyway. If you’re in a hurry though you should definitely use a processor.

Step 4: Combine the spices, salt, evaporated soy (or milk) and whisk. Add the egg replacer (or just eggs) and mix it all together evenly. Add the melted Earth Balance (or butter) and vanilla and mix evenly. Finally, add the whole mix to your sweet potatoes and mix until the ingredients have combined evenly.

Step 5: Pour into your crust and bake at 375 for about an hour.

It will look like this when done:

Well not exactly like that since the pie in this picture has three slices missing....

As for the crust, here’s how I made mine this time. You’ll need regular flour, cake  flour, butter (or substitute if you’re me), vegetable shortening, sugar, salt and water to make this.

Step one: Combine one cup of all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup cake flour (the two kinds of flours = extra flaky).

Step two: Mix in a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt.

Step three: Cut in half a stick of very cold Earth Balance (you can use butter.) The colder the fat, the flakier your pie or so my Southern pie cookbook tells me. I need to look up the chemistry of that one. Mix with hands. Cut in 5 tablespoons of very cold vegetable shortening and do the same.

Step four: Sprinkle 1.4 cup of cold water and tossed together until you can make a ball. Flatten ball into a thick pancake, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate an hour. Go and make your filling as instructed above.

Step five: roll out, press into pan, fill with filling and bake.

Finally: enjoy!

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