Nov 30, 2008

a custard of ipomoeas

ipomoea batatas, you are my helpmeet. having made two sweet potato pies in the last two days, here is the freshly-tuned, officially-sanctioned sweet potato pie filling receipt.

1 pound sweet potatoes
4 tb unsalted butter (room temp)
1/2 cup sugar (if your potatoes are sweet, you could use less)
2 large eggs
1.5 cups light cream (also substitutable with the same volume of milk of any fat content)
a sprinkle of nutmeg
a scatter of cinnamon
a knoblet of ginger
a pinch of salt
a splash of vanilla or lemon extract (not the crummy synthetic variety)

peel potatoes, then cut into 1-inch cubes. steam until they surrender to the fork, probably 10-15 minutes. (why do people insist on boiling or baking these things? it takes ages, then you have to mess with peeling them while they steam malevolently.) mash while steaming, then allow to cool thoroughly. while waiting, you could have a calvados.

preheat your oven to 350F.

using a mixing implement of your choice, whip the butter into the mashed potatoes. the best that will happen is that you get little shreds of butter distributed throughout. they never disappear. add the sugar, salt, cream, vanilla/lemon, spices, and mix well. the mixture should attain the consistency of very heavy cream, and should be a little sweeter than you want it to be after baking. i like a light hand with the flavourings and sweeteners, but if you like your pies to taste of nothing but sugar and nutmeg, go nuts. (i've successfully refrigerated this custard mix for up to 8 hours with dire consequences for neither flavour nor intestinal well-being.)

just before baking, mix in the two eggs. into the prepared piecrust or baking tray and bake for 50 minutes at 350F, resisting the temptation to open the oven door. a cold metal skewer stuck into the center of the pie should come out clean (a firm custard) or with traces of sweet potato (a gently-set custard). cool your pie slowly or the surface will crack. this is best either cold or slightly warm, with softly-whipped cream.

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