I have always been fascinated with pie. They come out looking impressive and with a few tricks do not cause many problems. Oh sure, we have all be there for the crust that fell apart or the filling that just didn’t want to bake correctly, but honestly, there are so many things that go right with pie that the things that go wrong are laughable.
If there is one time for pie to really shine it’s Thanksgiving. And outside of pumpkin nothing says turkey day quite like sweet potato. While it is usually served as a side dish, forgo to the savory version for the sweet and follow me to the world of sweet potato pie.
Here’s the deal, I always make my crust the night before. And because I like a thicker crust and don’t want to be so nit-picky about how large the circle is, I make a 1 ½ batches. That little bit of extra dough will make all the difference in your crust. *If you do not do this the night before, start with baking your sweet potatoes and then make your crust. It will maximize your time.
Measure and refrigerate your shortening and flour for at least an hour. Cold ingredients make for flakier crust.
Mix 1 cup flour with 1 tsp salt, then using a pastry cutter, cut in 1/3 cup shortening until the mixture starts to clump together (about the size of peas). Add 3 tablespoons of ice cold water and continue cutting together the dough. Form with your hands into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and, let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
First things first, you need sweet potatoes. Poke a few holes and set on a cookie sheet to bake in the oven. Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour. Be sure to rotate at least half way through, but I recommend quarter turns every 15 minutes.
While your potatoes are baking, prep your other ingredients for the filling and the marshmallow meringue topping. You can have them at the ready. Feel free to zest the lemon ahead as well. If you add the lemon juice to the same bowl it will keep it fresh while you are working on other things.
After you prep your ingredients take the crust out of the fridge and begin to roll the dough out. Here is the best advice I can give you, buy some of those jumbo plastic bags and cut open three sides. Open the bag and flour both sides. Place the dough on one side and fold the other over top. Now you can roll the dough easier and flipping over into your dish is a breeze. Roll dough until it is about 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. After rolling out into the pie dish, place it in freezer for 15 minutes. Take it out and blind bake the crust (be sure to cover the top in foil and weigh it down with dried rice or beans) for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Take the foil off and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until golden.
^Be sure to dust both side of the bag with flour!
^Now you can just open and flip into your pie dish!
Once the sweet potatoes come out of the oven peel and place them into a food processor (they should still be hot). Process them until smooth. You may have to stop and stir a few times. Do not worry, this is normal. Add egg yolks, sugar, brown sugar, milk, lemon juice, zest, and spices. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue baking for 20-30 minutes until a knife in the center comes out clean. Take the pie out, but leave the oven on.
^Pie ready to go in! Cover edges with foil to prevent burning.
^Ready for meringue!
While your pie is baking make your meringue. Whip egg whites until you get soft peaks. Add the marshmallow fluff and continue whipping until you get stiff peaks (about 5-7 minutes). Place meringue on top of fully baked pie as soon as it comes out of the oven and return to the over for 15-20 minutes. Watch the pie carefully, meringue can burn.
I topped with candied bacon for that full Thanksgiving effect, but feel free to use candied pecans or another topping.
Crust (This is for one batch, as mentioned about I do 1 ½ batches):
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon shortening
3 Tablespoons iced cold water
2-3 large sweet potatoes (to make 2 cups puree)..do not used canned
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 T tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Zest of one lemon
6 egg whites, room temperature
3-1/2 cups marshmallow crème