This is recipe is a twist on the traditional sweet potato pie, using staple ingredients found in a Southern pantry with a German flair in having a a rich streusel topping.
Serves 6 to 8
One 9-inch commercially prepared pie crust (See Cook’s Note)
For the Sweet Potato Puree:
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the Pie Filling:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
A pinch of cayenne pepper
15 ounces sweet potato puree
12 evaporated milk
2 large eggs
For the Streusel:
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Whipped Cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Place the crust in a baking dish and prick with a fork. Line the pie crust with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Make sure the weights are evenly distributed around the pie dish. Partially blind bake the pie crust, until the bottom crust is just beginning to brown, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
For the sweet potatoes, place a steamer insert or a mesh colander in a large pot and add enough water to reach the bottom of the steamer. Place the sweet potatoes in the steamer and bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the heat, and cook over simmering water for about 25 minutes, until very tender. Check occasionally to be sure the water does not completely evaporate.Transfer the sweet potatoes to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, gradually add the milk then butter. Process until silken. Note:the puree can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
To a large bowl, add thee sugar, light brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cayenne pepper. Add the sweet potato puree, evaporated milk, and eggs. Stir to combine and set aside.
To make the streusel, combine dark brown sugar, old fashioned oats, chopped pecans, flour, butter, cinnamon, teaspoon nutmeg in a large bowl.
Add the pie filling to the prepared crust. Add the pecan streusel evenly over the pie filling.
Place the pie in the oven and bake for 60 minutes until the middle of the pie is set or a knife inserted in the center comes out clean . Allow the pie to cool before serving with whip cream.
There is nothing like a homemade pie crust. If you have the time, here is a simple recipe for a for single-crust pie pastry (9 inches): Combine 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cut in 1/2 cup cold butter until crumbly. Gradually add 3-5 tablespoons ice water, tossing with a fork until dough holds together when pressed. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.
I am a Southerner with a sweet tooth and Kentucky Transparent Pie fits the bill as a custard pie that is a sweet as it can get as a dessert. Similar to a chess pie, buttermilk pie, vinegar pie or sugar pie, this version of the pie is made with half brown sugar and half granulated sugar. Many of Kentucky’s pies feature bourbon, one of their most famous exports and I am sure that you could slip a dram or two into your pie if you desire. Basically, the simple combination of ingredients makes a filling to die for!
The most well known Kentucky Transparent Pie can be found at Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Kentucky. Usually around Thanksgiving, there is a rush for the pie found on the bakery shelves. Maysville, Kentucky is about 70 miles northeast of Lexington, and is the home of the original Magee’s Bakery, which opened in the 1930s. Magee’s is known for popularizing the Transparent Pie.
Although the pie is not “transparent” the pie filling is really just a pale shade of yellow.
In terms of culinary history, Transparent Pie goes way back to the frontier days, where families made pies using whatever pantry goods they had on hand. They had no refrigeration in those days, and these pies did not have to be refrigerated. It was determined many years ago, that Transparent Pie originated in Kentucky, and not just anywhere in Kentucky, but in the Maysville Kentucky area. Transparent Pie is a very well-known pie in Maysville area, although it is not well-known to many people, even in the most populous parts of Kentucky.
While the attention-grabbing name is unique — and first started appearing in Kentucky newspaper advertisements and articles in the 1890s — food historian Sarah Baird says the dessert actually closely resembles pies from other regions of the United States. While a pie crust is the ideal vessel for just about anything edible, in Kentucky, nuts and chocolate reign king among pie fillings. Sugary custard pies also have their own special place in Kentucky culinary history. Transparent pie, buttermilk pie, vinegar pie, sugar pie and Jefferson Davis Pie, all made with the basic ingredients, these pies are all comparable in recipe and method, but have a distinctness and regional popularity that is all their own.
Throughout much of the Appalachian Mountains and certainly into the eastern parts of Kentucky, chess pie is a potluck essential. Most food historians believe that the word chess is simply slang for English cheese pie filling. Others say that the word is “chest,” spoken with a Southern drawl, because these sugary pies could be stored in a pie chest rather than being refrigerated. And yet others believe it to be a run-on version of the words “just pie.” Because of its simple ingredients (eggs, sugar and butter) with no added nuts, fruits or candies, it is “jes’ pie” or chess pie.
Jefferson Davis Pie is also popular throughout the South but had a historical presence at Berea College’s well-known Southern inn, the Boone Tavern, throughout the mid-1900s. Richard T. Hougen, manager of the inn, was said to have taught all Boone Tavern pastry chefs how to make Jefferson Davis Pie for hotel guests and visiting dignitaries to enjoy. Wherein chess pie and Jefferson Davis Pie can be found throughout the Deep South, Kentucky claims the transparent pie as their very own.
“When you go into Indiana you have sugar pies,” Baird says. “It’s kind of a kissing-cousin of shoofly pie, which is in Pennsylvania.”
Baird also mentions chess pies, originally found in New England, and Southern buttermilk pies. All of these have the same simple sugary liquid filling that is baked down in a shell.
Baird did some in-depth research on the origin of the transparent pie for her book Kentucky Sweets. She thinks part of its original popularity — and the popularity of similar variations — was due to its accessibility to rural families.
“What everyone in my research kept coming back to over and over is that it’s a pie that doesn’t require something expensive like pecans,” Baird says. “They are kind of farm ingredients, right? You are going to have all those ingredients in the pantry or on the farm. You can go get the eggs, you will have the cream.”
She says the actual origin of the transparent name is still kind of a mystery — but it’s something that is definitely unique to the Maysville area.
Magee’s Bakery concocted the recipe for this silky, custard pie. The bakery, located on Market Street, has been making these pies for over 60 years. They make regular size pie and portable small tarts. And according to social media, these little transparent tarts are the favorite pie of actor George Clooney, who grew up in Augusta, Kentucky, who always sings the praises of Transparent Pie. Clooney, not only travels to Maysville to purchase Transparent tarts and pies, but has bought them to share at movie sets and television studios with his crew and colleagues ……but then again, they are probably the favorite pie of anyone who grew up in the Maysville area!
Makes 1 Pie, Serves 8
Ingredients: For the Pastry: 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar (granulated) 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (chilled or frozen, cut into small pieces) 3 to 4 tablespoons of ice water
For the Filling: 4 large eggs 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup light brown sugar, packed 2 tablespoons flour 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter 1 cup heavy cream 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla
Whipped Cream, for serving
Directions: In a food processor pulse the flour, salt, and sugar until well blended. Add half of the butter and pulse about 6 times. Add the remaining butter and pulse 5 or 6 times. The mixture should look crumbly with pea-sized pieces here and there. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of ice water over the flour mixture and pulse a few times. Add more ice water, a teaspoon at a time, until the mixture begins to form small clumps.
Toss the mixture out onto a floured surface and press and shape with your hands until the dough holds together. Don’t overwork the dough. Shape it into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 450° F (230° C/Gas 8).
Roll the chilled dough out about 2 inches bigger than the pie plate (upside-down). Fit it into the pie plate and crimp the edge as desired. Line the pie shell (do not prick the dough) with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
Bake the pie shell for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights, return it to the oven, and bake for another 3 minutes. Remove the crust to a baking sheet and reduce the oven temperature to 350 °F (180° C/Gas 4).
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sugar, flour, melted butter, cream, salt, and vanilla. Blend well. Pour the filling mixture into the crust. Place a pie shield over the crust edge to prevent excessive browning. Transfer the pie to the 350 F oven (baking sheet and all) and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the pie shield and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until set.
Cool on a rack and then chill thoroughly in a refrigerator before serving.
Slice the chilled pie and serve it, topped with freshly whipped cream.
Cook’s Note: If you choose to use a pre-made frozen crust or refrigerated pastry, follow the instructions for partially baking the pie shell. Even though you can bake the pie with an unbaked crust, a par-baked crust is recommended to avoid a soggy bottom.
9-inch cast iron skillet
Metal Mixing bowl
Directions: For the skillet pie:
Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
Melt the butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet; set aside 1 tablespoon of the melted butter for the top crust. To the melted butter, add the brown sugar and melt them together on medium heat, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and line the skillet with one of the pie crusts. Pour the apple pie filling over the crust and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar and pinch of cayenne pepper. Use the second pie crust to cover the filling. Brush the top with the reserved melted butter, then evenly sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar on top. Cut vents in the middle of the pie. Bake for 30 minutes.
For the spiced whipped cream:
Chill a large metal mixing bowl and a wire beater attachment in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Pour the cream, cardamom, cinnamon and sugar into the cold mixing bowl and beat until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes; the mixture should hold its shape when dropped from a spoon. Be careful in not to overbeat the cream, or you will have sweetened butter on your hands.
Serve the pie hot, topped with a generous dollop of the spiced whipped cream.
Vanilla ice cream can also top the apple pie and served with a slice of cheddar cheese, if desired.