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I Bake Therefore I Yam

November 1, 2018 | Frank Bonanno

The title should say, “I Bake, Therefore I Sweet Potato” because, true story, a yam and a sweet potato are not the same thing. I only know this because I’ve been on a quest to recover from a marshmallow sweet potato upbringing into actually liking the darn things. This is not the first sweet potato recipe that I enjoyed both cooking and eating enough to share, and that falling-in-like thing is working, too. I admit, this is still an ingredient I’ll work with maybe twice a year, but it’s been nice playing with the texture and weight and flavor profile (how, say, boiling a sweet potato measures up to baking one).

Of course, now I’m compelled to do some yam cooking. I’ll let you know how it goes . . .

Cornmeal Crust
Makes 1 Crust

Ingredients
1 stick frozen butter
½ cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 t kosher salt
1 egg yolk
2 to 5 Tbsp ice water
(1/4 c flour)

Tools
Whisk; large bowl; pastry knife; plastic wrap or wax paper; rolling pin; pie tin

Directions

  1. Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl
  2. Shave the frozen butter directly over the dry ingredients. Use a pastry knife to cut the butter into the dry, trying to mix as little as possible.
  3. Move the ingredients toward the circumference of the bowl, making a well for the egg yolks
  4. Drop the egg yolks plus two tablespoons of water into the well, and use your hands to bring the buttery dough into the well, working rapidly until a dough forms that’s solid enough to form into a large ball. If this dough is too wet to make a ball, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a proper crust dough forms
  5. Divide the dough into two balls, wrap, and refrigerate 2 hours or so.
  6. Preheat oven to 375˚
  7. Dust work surface liberally with flour, smack one of the dough balls into the center of the powder, then flip it and roll it into a disc slightly larger than your pie pan
  8.  Bake 20 minute

Sweet Potato Pie Filling
Makes 1 Pie

Ingredients
5 medium baked sweet potatoes (bake at 375 for 40 minutes, then peel. Go ahead and bake4 sweet potatoes so you have enough left over to make Sweet Potato Pancakes)
3/4  cup half-and-half
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp bourbon
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1⁄2 tsp grated ginger
1⁄2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp kosher salt
Zest of one good sized orange

A note: this is an adaptation from a Dolestar Miles’ recipe. She’s spot on in baking the sweet potatoes instead of boiling them for a more intense flavor profile, but I had some difficulty in getting the crust to work (could have been my kitchen, or temperament, or the dry Denver air. Who knows . . ?) I’m offering here my own preferences on the filling process (the blender makes it so easy) and the recipe for a cornmeal crust that’s been a great success for me.

Tools
Zester, sharp knife, stand blender; baked, cooled pie crust; spoonula

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Place peeled, sliced sweet potatoes in KitchenAid and puree on low speed.
  3. Add cream, eggs, bourbon and butter, blending until frothy; add  remaining ingredients
  4. Pour filling into the baked, cooled crust and bake for 40 minutes–until filling is jiggle-free, and you can touch your finger to the middle without any filling coming off.  If not cooked through, set the timer for ten minutes more; check again; repeat until firm, set up and ready to chill.

To Serve
Top with whipped cream. Devour.