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Sweet Potato Pie from The Fiery Cross

Sweet Potato Pie from The Fiery Cross

The Fiery Cross

“I don’t imagine it was much of a contest,” I murmured, helping him to peel off the dusty coat. “William Tryon’s not even Scots, let alone a Fraser.”

That got me a reluctant half-smile. “Stubborn as rocks,” was the succinct description of the Fraser clan I had been given years before—and nothing in the intervening time period had given me cause to think it inaccurate in any way.

“Aye, well.” He shrugged and stretched luxuriously, his vertebrae cracking from the long ride. “ Oh, Christ. I’m starved; is there food?” He relaxed and lifted his long nose, sniffing the air hopefully.

“Baked ham and sweet potato pie,” I told him, unnecessarily, since the honey-soaked fragrances of both were thick on the humid air. “So what did the Governor say, once you’d got him properly browbeaten?” 

His teeth showed briefly at that description of his interview with Tryon, but I gathered from his faint air of satisfaction that it wasn’t totally incorrect. “Oh, a number of things. But to begin with, I insisted he recall to me the circumstances when Roger Mac was taken; who gave him up, and what was said. I mean to get to the bottom of it.” He pulled the thong from his hair and shook out the damp locks, dark with sweat.

Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross (Chapter 73 – A Whiter Shade of Pale)

graham cracker pecan crust

Thanksgiving 2014 is almost upon our US #Outlanders!

The great thing about putting together an Outlander Thanksgiving is that while they’re on their Ridge, pretty much anything the Frasers ate is up for consideration on your menu. Corn dodgers, spoonbread, biscuits and gravy, hazlenut cake, apple fritters and venison pie would all be welcome at a slightly alternative Thanksgiving – although a little different than your average buffet fodder, they’re all period appropriate.

But there’s also a number of dishes across the Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross and A Breath of Snow and Ashes that fall under the label of “Traditional Thanksgiving” favourites. Of these, one of the most iconic is a Sweet Potato Pie.

sweet potatoes - orange flesh

First up in my quest for the perfect SPP was to define a sweet potato.  You see, to this Canadian, a sweet potato is pale yellow with rough brown skin. In my part of the Great White North, what you see above is called a yam.

So I checked in with my Southern Outlander posse, who all told me in no uncertain terms that the orange guy with the reddish skin is a sweet potato, and that this paler cousin I was describing must be a figment of my imagination, ’cause they’ve never seen anything like that!

I resorted to Google for the final word. It turns out that we’re all at least partly right. My Southern gals’ orange-fleshed tuber is a sweet potato…but I’m also right to call the paler one up here a sweet potato — they are different varieties of the same plant.

Yams are from Africa. It seems that in regions of North America where both varieties of sweet potatoes are available, some Clever-Trevor thought to call the sweeter, moister, red-skinned variety yams.

You know, to avoid confusion.

Sweet Potato Pie

Once I had my hands on the correct sweet potato, I was off to the races…next up, the crust.

We’ve made lots of pies on OK. Governor Tryon’s Humble Crumble Apple Pie uses my favourite pastry recipe for the crust. If you want a rolled crust under your SPP, then I suggest that recipe if you don’t have one of your own.

For my SPP, I chose to make a graham/pecan crust. It’s a quick, easy option that let’s you get the pie assembled and in the oven without a lot of fuss. No waiting for the pastry to rest, no rolling, no patchingplus I made a little extra for topping!

Sweet Potato Pie

In the excerpt, Claire tells us the air is heavy with the scent of honey. So I baked my first SPP with honey.  It was delicious, but then I got curious because most SPP recipes call for brown sugar. I replaced the honey with brown sugar, and I have to say the molasses in the sugar really does something for those sweet potatoes, because my second pie was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S.

I leave it up to you. I wrote the recipe with brown sugar, but have included a substitution for the honey in the notes below the recipe for those who prefer to go by the book.

(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)

Sweet Potato Pie

: Outlander Kitchen’s version of a Southern Thanksgiving tradition

Yield: 9” Pie

  • Sweet Potatoes – 1½ lb (see notes)
  • Graham Cracker Crumbs – 1 Cup
  • Granulated Sugar – ⅓ Cup
  • Butter, melted – ¼ Cup
  • Pecans, ground – ½ Cup (see notes)
  • Butter – ¼ Cup
  • Brown Sugar – ½ Cup (see notes)
  • Milk – ½ Cup
  • Eggs – 2
  • Cinnamon – 1 tsp
  • Vanilla – 1 tsp
  • Lemon Zest, grated – 1 Lemon
  • Salt – ½ tsp
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated – pinch (see notes)

Move rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 350°F.

Cover whole sweet potatoes halfway with water, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to a gentle boil and cook until fork tender, about 30-40 minutes. Drain and cool. Remove peel and discard.

Meanwhile, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter and pecans in a medium bowl until all crumbs are moistened. Reserve ½ cup for topping, and press remainder into glass or ceramic 9” pie dish. Set aside.

Mash together sweet potato flesh and butter in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and beat well to combine.

Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle on reserved topping, then bake until lightly golden, another 20-25 minutes.

Cool completely before serving with optional whipped cream.

Ith do leòr! (Eat Plenty)

Notes:

  • If you prefer a rolled pie crust, here’s my favourite pastry recipe.
  • To grind, pulse pecans in a food processor 4 or 5 times. I leave in a few chunky pieces for texture.
  • As described in the accompanying blog post, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (aka yams) are what’s called for.
  • If you prefer to use honey, substitute ⅓ cup honey for the brown sugar and reduce the milk to ⅓ cup.
  • Buy your nutmeg whole and grate on a rasp as you need. There is no point to pre-ground nutmeg – it’s tasteless.

 

63 Comments

  1. Verlinda
    November 18, 2014 at 5:22 am

    Your crust sounds delicious.
    Can’t wait to try this.

    • judy Covington
      November 24, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      In Georgia, we use an uncooked pastry shell. No cinnamon or lemon zest. No milk either. We put a topping of softened butter , brown sugar, chopped pecans and a small amount of flour on top of pie when it’s about half way baked. We use vanilla extract butter eggs and nutmeg with light brown sugar in the filling along with the boiled and drained potatoes. Everything is mashed with a hand potato masher and then poured into pie shell. Baked at 350 until almost done and topping is then afded. It’s even great cold.

  2. Anna Lapping
    November 18, 2014 at 5:31 am

    I love the idea of the pecans in the crumb crust, as well as the addition of the lemon zest in the filling. Sometimes I make the filling and bake in small ramekins, avoiding the crust altogether, but I think a bit of the graham/pecan crumbles would be a nice garnish for those as well. Thank you for another great recipe.

  3. Donna R
    November 18, 2014 at 5:51 am

    That crust sounds awesome! We love our pumpkin pie around here, but this is definitely going on the Thanksgiving table!

  4. Rita Hernandez
    November 18, 2014 at 6:43 am

    My family holiday dinner menu keeps growing every time I visit your site. I have to put this on there though! In my house yam and sweet potato are interchangeable. My Northern father called them yams while my Southern mother called them sweet potatoes.

  5. Nicole
    November 18, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Thank you, I’ve been looking for a good sweet potato/yam pie recipe! This one looks great! 🙂

  6. Jess D.
    November 18, 2014 at 6:52 am

    I don’t know if this is a silly question, but you say to “Cover whole sweet potatoes halfway with water” and I was a bit confused. When I boil whole potatoes, usually when I make potato salad, I put the potatoes in the pot and fill with water until the potatoes are just covered. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something here with only covering them halfway… Thanks and I absolutely LOVE your blog!!

    • Theresa
      November 18, 2014 at 7:03 am

      I only cover them halfway, because I find that the SP absorb less water and are less mushy. Same with regular potatoes. That said, cook them the way you want to! 🙂

    • Jess D.
      November 18, 2014 at 7:07 am

      No, that’s a great point! I hadn’t thought of that and would definitely trust your judgment and expertise here. Thanks for the speedy reply, Theresa! 🙂

    • Marta Richards
      November 24, 2014 at 11:38 am

      I think the easiest way of all is just to scrub the sweet potatoes clean, prick the skins, and place them on a cookie sheet in an oven at 350 degrees until they are very soft, at least an hour if they’re big. Then wait til they cool and scoop them out of the shell. No need to boil, peel or anything.

    • Theresa
      November 24, 2014 at 11:51 am

      As I always say, “Make every recipe your own,” so go ahead and bake them if that makes you happy! However, I will go on record here as saying my method of boiling them whole takes half the time, is less messy, and the flesh pops easily out of the skin. Because they’re left whole, you lose none of the flavour.

      As the sweet potatoes are being baked as the pie, I just don’t see the need to roast to develop flavour, but everyone has their method…so do what you want! 🙂

  7. Suzanne Lucero
    November 18, 2014 at 6:58 am

    I can’t wait for Thanksgiving to try this. If my van is finished early enough, (new brake pads had to be installed) I’ll pop over to the store and get what I need to make it tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  8. Kate McDermott
    November 18, 2014 at 7:28 am

    Also known, in some areas of the U.S. Midwest, as Yammer Pie.

  9. Pamela
    November 18, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Can I bake the sweet potatoes instead of cooking them in water? I find the baking/roasting brings out the natural sugars. In a previous comment you said to cook them any way you want. Does this include baking? I’m not waiting until Thanksgiving to bake this pie! Am baking it tomorrow! Will let you know the end result.

    • Theresa
      November 18, 2014 at 8:12 am

      As long as you can mash them when they’re done, you can cook them anyway you want! 🙂

    • Elaine Boyle
      November 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

      I also prefer baking them – seems to bring out more of the flavor. I think some of the natural sweetness escapes into the water when you boil them. 🙂 As to the honey, most of my old recipes from the Tennessee/North Carolina mountains use either honey or molasses to sweeten baked goods as it was more readily available than sugar. I usually use the darker brown sugar in baking because it gives you more of that molasses flavor.

  10. Cheri Fry
    November 18, 2014 at 8:06 am

    You recipe sounds heavenly! (I like your graham cracker/pecan crust idea!) I use both brown sugar and honey in my sweet potato pie. 🙂

  11. Lynn
    November 18, 2014 at 9:03 am

    I’m known for NOT making pie (I don’t make pie and I don’t clean fish I always tell the hubby)….but I can sure handle a graham cracker crust….so, will need to try this recipe out…..always something new at my Thanksgiving table….even if they all complain they want their ‘favorites’.

  12. Richard
    November 18, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Dear Theresa,
    Like others in this blog…I’m not waiting for Thanksgiving to make this pie. This sounds like heaven in a pie dish. Thanks for the recipe.
    Kind regards,
    Richard

  13. Wendy Waddell
    November 18, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I don’t do pie crust (they don’t like me!) and I don’t clean fish. However, that graham cracker/pecan crust sounds wonderful and I love sweet potatoes. Thanksgiving was a month ago here in Canada but this sounds like it would be wonderful for Christmas. Thanks for this great recipe

  14. Dawn
    November 18, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Theresa is there a way to pin individual recipes? I follow you on pinterest but haven’t found some of the recipes listed there.

    Love the blog! Keep up the great work. Can’t wait for a Christmas post!

    Dawn

  15. Carol Mackey
    November 18, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Ah, Theresa, you’ve done it again! Thank you for the lovely SPP reciept-er-recipe- ;-), and the _two_ crusts!! I am charged with making pumpkin chiffon–my mom’s “ancient” recipe–(and my traditional mince, which only a few of us eat–moreformeee!!!)–and like the idea of the lemon in the pie. The PCP calls for orange zest . . .hmm . . . interchangeable citrus notes? The lemon in the rolled crust is verra interresting . . . one of my sons is making the SPP (I will pass your recipe on to his Lovely Bride, who can then “suggest” it to him), while another is making plain pumpkin–and then there will be apple . . . and pecan . . . chocolate (for a non- fruit-and-nut-eater) . . . somehow Thanksgiving is always a dedicated Pie For Dessert holiday for us. Thanks again for What You Do So Well! Can’t wait to see what you come up with for the Christmas Holidays (you don’t happen to have a great recipe for Ribbon Candy, do you . . . just askin’ . . .). 😀

  16. MJ Guidry
    November 18, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Oh, THANK YOU, Theresa!! This is a pet peeve of mine. As a Master Gardener, for my local County Extension Office, I have argued with many a grocery store produce manager on this point. Just as there are many varieties of apples (Jonathan, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith), there are different varieties of sweet potatoes. They all have basically the same shape, but come in various colors. You are absolutely right about the origin of yams and of them coming from Africa. I would imagine that most of us have never (EVER!) seen a yam and probably wouldn’t enjoy eating one.

    Thanks, so much, for all you do here. Your recipes are fantastic!! and tying them in to my favorite books is sublime. =)

    Mary from Boise, Idaho

  17. Anita
    November 18, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Theresa, I have an issue with sourcing Graham crackers as I live in Australia. Do you by any chance know of an alternative product that can replace them? or could you describe their taste/texture? Thanks in advance. 🙂

    • Theresa
      November 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Ginger snaps would substitute beautifully…in fact, thanks for that! I think I’ll use those next time.

    • Helen
      November 28, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      I have noticed that British chefs often use Digestive Buiscuits the way we use graham crackers, so that’s a good substitute I think (thank Jamie Oliver:-)

    • Kylie Pearson
      November 19, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks for asking this question Anita, I was about to ask the same thing as I live in Australia too.

  18. Suzie Q
    November 18, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Hi Theresa,

    I am up here in northern BC, and have always struggled with the sweet potato/yam question. We get both in the stores, and people seem to use the terms interchangeably. I use the whiter-fleshed browner-skinned variety for my own version of a sweet potato casserole, which is a savoury version and served with the turkey, rather than a sweeter version to be served as a dessert.

    Yours looks wonderful, though and I can’t wait to try it.

    Thanks for clearing up the confusion.

    Suzie Q

  19. Alice Watkins
    November 18, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    I too was going to suggest baking the potatoes. If you are pre-roasting any other veg to get them out of the way of The Big Day just add some sweet potatoes along for the ride. Add some white potatoes, onions, and some heads of garlic too. Hey, you never know when a hash craving might hit. And if you’re going to have the oven hot for an hour or so might as well fill it up with root veggies.

  20. Suzann A
    November 24, 2014 at 10:18 am

    This sounds delicious! I just made pumpkin pie with brown sugar, since I avoid the white stuff. Haven’t cooked it yet, but your recipe gives me great hopes! Thanks! PS I have just this holiday season figure out the difference between sweet potatoes and yams myself. Been confused over that for years!

  21. Bobbi Hicks
    November 24, 2014 at 11:18 am

    After reading this recipe…this transplanted Southern Gal just may have to give it a try. Sounds so scrumcious…don’t think I can resist. Also, must make a few revisions to my ages old crumb crust…the additions of nuts is brilliant!

  22. Helen
    November 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I’m pining away for Outlander. April is just too far away! *pout* So for now, I think I will make pie:-) I’ve always wanted to try a sweet potato pie. I lived in the US for several years and everyone there thought I was crazy making pumpkin pie. I am interested to see what all the fuss is about. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Alice Watkins
      November 24, 2014 at 9:05 pm

      You may find that the taste of sweet potato pie is almost identical to the taste of pumpkin pie. To me, the real difference is in the texture. And that difference is subtle. Of course if you use different spices or different sugars the taste will be different as well.

  23. Adrienne O'Donnell
    November 24, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Well down here in Australia we don’t eat pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie. Our loss! We love pumkin though as a vegetable! Can’t buy it in a can. When I was growing up sweet potato was purple skinned and white fleshed but I have seen brown skin too. These days the orange one which we had never seen years ago, is the most popular and is known as kumara. It doesn’t go brown when cut as much. We do like Outlander down here though!

    • Cheryl Josephs
      November 25, 2014 at 12:48 am

      Adrienne, what would you use here in Australia as Graham crackers? I have no idea what compares to them here.

    • Theresa
      November 25, 2014 at 6:55 am

      Ground ginger snaps would be lovely…as would digestives.

    • Adrienne O'Donnell
      November 25, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      Sorry, I have no real suggestions except that Theresa’s answer sounds good! Maybe add some cinnamon?

    • Alice Watkins
      November 25, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      As for graham cracker substitutions. Pretty much any mild buttery cookie will do. The crackers have a base brown sugar-y flavor and come usually in cinnamon or honey flavored varieties when used for baking. They are about the thickness and crunchiness of a digestive biscuit. Maybe just a little less crunchy. They are crisp, not crumbly like shortbread but are meant to kind of be a supporting player and are not overly sweet. The brand name here is Honey Maid. Don’t know if I can post a photo of the box or not.

    • Beth
      November 25, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      Hi Alice,
      Also an Aussie who lived in the US, I’ve used Granita biscuits in the past instead of Graham crackers – almost the same, perhaps a little sweeter. Or, if you can get them, McVities Digestives. But texture-wise they are both just as good.

  24. Teri Fletcher
    November 25, 2014 at 1:31 am

    In my family, we never use a crust and the sweet potato pie is topped with marshmallows. Very yummy!

  25. Carmen
    November 25, 2014 at 3:05 am

    I’ve never tried it with this type of crust, but sounds really good. I put a little fresh ground clove in mine too. Great recipe! Bon appetite

  26. Ingrid
    November 25, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Hi Theresa,
    I love your blog, and have been following you for awhile! I have made quite a few of your posts. Love the chicken fricassee (spelling?). Anyway, I hope you are reading this because I am attempting this pie at the moment. When making the crust, you say to add the sugar…both the granulated and the brown? I am a dunce in the kitchen. Thanks!!!!

    Ingrid

    • Theresa
      November 25, 2014 at 11:50 am

      Hi, Ingrid! See how the ingredients are grouped together, with spaces in between? That first grouping is the crust…so you’re just adding the granulated sugar to the crust…let me know if you have any other questions.

  27. Ingrid
    November 25, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks! Sometimes I need the simplest things spelled out for me:). And thanks for the quick response!

  28. Jane
    November 25, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Thank You Theresa. This was my first sweet potatoe pie that lemon zest was wonderful. I will be making this again in the near future

  29. Sandra T
    November 26, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    I made this pie for tomorrow (Thanksgiving) then I decided to taste it, to make sure it’s OK for my guests and family… my kids wanted a taste too, then seconds… now I have to make another pie for tomorrow… It’s delicious!!! I did put a few whole pecans on top at the same time with the reserved pie crust topping. Can’t wait to make it again. Thank you so much for this recipe 😉

  30. Sally
    November 27, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Yikes, I accidentally mixed in the brown sugar with the sweet potatoes because it wasn’t separated above… well I think it will be really sweet, can’t wait to try it either way 🙂 That just means Ill have to try again soon

  31. Cindi Russo
    November 27, 2014 at 9:57 am

    My pie is in the oven. Also making sweet potato soufflé, ham and fresh yeast rolls. Like my mother used to make.
    Happy Thanksgiving

  32. Delilah
    November 27, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    I made this for Thanksgiving dessert today and it was a hit! Everyone loved it, even my brother who hates sweet potato pie. It was delicious!

  33. Erin
    November 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Made this for Thanksgiving dinner abd it was a hit! So delicious and yummy!

  34. Ingrid
    November 28, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Just wanted you to know it was FANTASTIC!

  35. Ila
    November 28, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    This pie is *awesome*!!!! It was wonderful yesterday and good this morning straight out of the refrigerator. We all loved it so much I plan to make another soon to take to work. Then there are all potlucks…

    Thank you for this wonderful creative blog!

  36. Angel
    December 5, 2014 at 5:28 am

    I’ve never heard of boiling a sweet potato to make the pie filling. Of course I’ve also never had lemon zest, pecans or graham crackers either in a sweet potato pie.

    Though this sounds decent I think I’ll stick with the tried and true recipe us blacks folks have been using for centuries. Don’t want to be banished during the holidays for trying something new. Lol!

    • Theresa
      December 5, 2014 at 6:32 am

      You might want to do some research. I found a ton of recipes that boiled the sweet potatoes, and decided it was a quicker, superior method. Family favourites are wonderful,but they often cause us to lose track of other options and techniques.

      I try a new dish every holiday, otherwise celebrations can get stale. Food evolves, aye?

    • Cindi Russo
      December 5, 2014 at 9:42 am

      I did boil my sweet potatoes for this pie, and it was excellent. I also boiled sweet potatoes for my soufflé last week.
      But I must agree with Angel, baked sweet potatoes are much sweeter, as they Carmelize. I usually bake them before I put them in a recipe. It’s a Deep South thing.

  37. sharon
    December 9, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    the pie was a huge hit for our Thanksgiving Feast…my brother-in-law had 2 slices…..and he knows how to bake and makes a mean pie himself. That was a great compliment to both your recipe and my baking….will do again for Christmas I think….

  38. Summer Surratt
    January 13, 2015 at 11:50 am

    This recipe tasted awesome. I just couldn’t get it to firm up like pie. Any suggestions? The taste was fantastic though. I used honey and cut the milk, but you couldn’t cut a piece of it. It was like a “dip it out thing.” Still wonderful.

    • Theresa
      January 13, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      hmmm…an extra egg would probably do the trick. I wonder what happened.

  39. anna
    January 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    Wow! This recipe sounds so delicious… I def have to bake it tomorrow. Only problem there: I’m a German, living in Germany… Can anyone here tell me what graham cookies are?

    • Theresa
      January 26, 2015 at 8:31 am

      Anna, you may not be able to find graham crackers…they are North American. But ginger snaps or digestive biscuits work perfectly

  40. Janet Keeten
    November 26, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    I had made a sweet potato pie before and decided it wasn’t worth the effort. New to Outlander, I decided to give your recipe a try for Thanksgiving. I am from the South, and pie is my specialty, especially an unusual pecan pie my grandmother created. This is my new favorite pie. I will be making it for all the parties I attend foe the next month and giving you the credit. Thank you so much

    • Theresa
      November 27, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      Wonderful! Thank you for letting me know. Happy Thanksgiving

  41. Michelle
    November 29, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Made this for Thanksgiving dinner instead of the usual gloppy casserole – and I’ll never go back. The bit of lemon zest was inspired, and the crust – well, MOST (some) of the reserved topping made it on the pie. SO good, lovely texture, sublime blend of sweet/nutty/citrus… Made a great breakfast the next day, too!

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