In "Sweets", Patty not only shares stories through her rich history but she also gives beautiful accounts of her past through her dishes and family recipes. Many people don't understand how connected food is to their experiences in life. For so many of my fondest memories, I can remember what I was eating. Birthdays, holidays and even my engagement were met with food experiences that can never be forgotten.
Recently my wonderful father-in-law did a favor for me, and I knew the way to his heart, and really any man's heart, would be through his stomach. He loves sweet potato pie, so I knew Patty's would be a hit. When you bake one of Patty's recipes, you feel the love in the experience. I know he was as grateful as I was that I baked this particular recipe.
Mama's Sweet Potato Pie by Patty Pinner
For the Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
1 egg, beaten
2 to 3 tablespoons cold milk, or more as needed
For the Pie Filling
3 large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
whipped cream, for garnish
Wash the whole sweet potatoes and drain them. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. (A fork should pierce the potatoes easily but they should not fall apart.) When the potatoes are done, drain and cool them.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare the pastry for a 9-inch single-crust pie. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients with a fork or by pinching the shortening into the flour mixture with you fingers. The result should be coarse crumbs and small clumps the size of peas. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time. Don't be afraid to add more milk if necessary to achieve a dough that's wet enough to form into a ball. Being careful not to overwork the dough, form the dough into a ball with you hands. Wrap the ball in plastic, then chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Transfer the dough from the refrigerator to a lightly floured surface. Flatten the ball slightly and dust the top of it with flour before rolling it out with a rolling pin Begin rolling at the center of the dough and work outward. Roll the dough out into a circle about 4 inches wider than the pie pan it will be placed in. Set it aside.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and mash them in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Add the melted butter, corn syrup, and sugar. Beat on medium speed. Discard the long, stringy fibers that collect around the electric beaters as you beat the filling. In the end, you want a smooth, string-free filling. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat well after each addition Pour in the buttermilk. Add the nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat until the filling is smooth. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Garnish with whipped cream.