Maple sweet potato pie is a delicately spiced Southern pie with creamy sweet potato custard. Topped with marshmallow-like Swiss meringue, it’s a nice alternative to pumpkin pie.
This year for Pie Week, I wanted to stretch my pie-making chops with one that I wouldn’t normally bake–the sweet potato pie.
Comfortably Domestic Confession: Up until a year ago, I’ve never in my Pie-Lovin’ days eaten so much as a tiny sliver of sweet potato pie. Not once. What can I say? I’m a Northern Girl, and here Up North, the only harvest orange pies are of the pumpkin variety. In fact, my informal poll of willing respondents (read: people that don’t run for cover when I ask a food related question) uncovered a shocking truth–Northerners, it seems, think that they think that they don’t like sweet potato pie.
Pumpkin pie reigns supreme Up North. So much so, that I couldn’t even scare up a sweet potato pie at any of the local bakeries. After insisting that no, I wasn’t looking for the casserole with marshmallows on top, I was told sweet potato pie was too regional, only a Southern thing, or just plain weird.
You want me to run full-on toward something? Tell me it’s weird. I like weird.
I knew that I couldn’t consider myself a self-respecting Pie Girl without at least dabbling in the starchy southern favorite–with or without a willing panel of taste testers. Project Sweet Potato Pie was launched as any good culinary project is in my house–with research.
Sweet potato pie is a classic with deep Southern roots stemming from grievous beginnings.
African slaves are credited with adopting the sweet potato into commonality due to its similarity with the tuberous yam that was a dietary staple in Africa. Early sweet potato pies contained only the sweetness inherent in the potatoes, and often graced supper tables as a vegetable side dish rather than a dessert. In wealthier estates, sugar was added to make the otherwise savory pie a dessert.
The first published recipe for sweet potato pie was in the book, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Southern Cooking by Abby Fisher. Mrs. Fisher and her husband traveled from Alabama to California in search of prosperity. It was there that they started a pickling and preserving business. Abby became very well known in the area for her cooking skills, for which she won many awards. So in 1881, several white women helped her write and publish cookbook. Quite an accomplishment at that time for a former slave turned entrepreneur who could neither read nor write very well.
After discovering Abby Fisher in my research, I knew that I had to perfect a sweet potato pie to convert all my pumpkin-biased friends. Abby’s published recipe read as one of my grandma’s would–with a list of ingredients, few measurements, and just about no tangible baking instructions aside from the words “bake quickly.”
I love recipes like that! I consider it a personal challenge to decode them.
So based loosely on Abby Fisher’s recipe, I went to work on my maple sweet potato pie. I used fewer eggs, sprinkled in a blend of warm spices, and added way more sugar than Mrs. Fisher probably ever intended. And because I am a Northern Girl, I drizzled in some local maple syrup.
And it was good! I loved the basic maple sweet potato pie! But I was in a bit of a conundrum because there was no way that I was going to get my friends and neighbors to cheerfully sample a naked maple sweet potato pie. To make that happen, I knew that I had to put something white, fluffy, and toasted on top.
Consider it a nod to my Northern neighbors that are only accepting of sweet potatoes when marshmallows are involved. (Forgive me, my Southern Friends!)
So I topped the maple sweet potato pie with toasted Swiss Meringue, which acknowledged the idea of marshmallow topping, but in a far creamier, less cloyingly sweet kind of way.
And it was really, really good! Best of all, I made 6 different pies, and each and every one of them was devoured before I had the chance to mention what type of pies they were eating.
Woo-hoo! Victory! Move over pumpkin…Maple Sweet Potato Pie with Swiss Meringue is coming to challenge your northern reign!
Be sure to come back around on Saturday when I share my new favorite pie in the entire world–Very Berry Cherry Pie!
But until then, make the maple sweet potato pie, and peruse the mouthwatering Pies of Pie Week:
I’m here with my Mile High Apple Pie!
Katie / The Hill Country Cook – New Mexico Apple Pie
Anne / From My Sweet Heart – Cranberry Cherry Ricotta Pie
Haley / The Girlie Girl Cooks – Coconut Cream Pie
Jeanne / Inside NanaBread’s Head – Black and White Coconut Tart
Mads / La Petite Pancake – Pineapple Pie
Monica / The Grommom – Papaya Pie
Carrie / Bakeaholic Mama – Chocolate Cream Pie
Kat / Tenaciously Yours – Grandma’s Chocolate Pie
My Maple Sweet Potato Pie with Toasted Swiss Meringue
Shanna / Pineapple Coconut – Boozy Pumpkin Egg Nog Pie
Carrie / Bakeaholic Mama – Sweet Potato Tartlets
Madeline / Munchin in the Mitten – Sweet Potato Pie
Allison / Decadent Philistines – Refrigerator Pumpkin Porter Chocolate Pie with Toasted Pumpkin Marshmallow “Meringue”
Lauren / Climbing Grier Mountain – Mini Butternut Squash Pie Stacks with Marshmallow Frosting
Megan / Wanna Be a Country Cleaver – Biscoff Pie with Whiskey Mallow Fluff
Shanna / Pineapple Coconut – Persimmon, Pear and Brandy Pie with Vanilla Bean Crumble
Christina / Buffy and George – Deep Dish Apple Pie
I’m back again to wrap up Pie Week with twist on the typical berry pie – Very Berry Cherry Pie