Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! Last weekend we hosted a nontraditional Thanksgiving dinner, which featured pork chops, roasted potatoes and sauteed kale, followed by the more traditional sweet potato and squash pie. (The party started with cured salmon rolls made with fresh daikon, pickled kohlrabi and homemade mayonnaise, which were also spectacular and the kids loved, but that is a dish that was largely prepared by the adults. Someday!)
So on the morning of the dinner, the kids and I got right down to the business of putting the pie together. Much like I mentioned when I made this pie, it's a good idea to prepare the dessert first for any large meal - that way it's done and you can focus on the foods that may need more up-to-the-minute cooking. I've made this pie before, and it's described by the authors as "toothsome", which I would agree with. Its texture is substantial and the flavour is wonderful, since squash and sweet potato tend to have bolder flavours than the standard pumpkin. We used wonderful local squash and local sweet potatoes, both from Elmridge Farm. It's made with a basic all-butter pie pastry - I use this recipe (includes a great little tutorial!). I was happy to be able to work more root veggies (besides potatoes) into the dinner, since we have lots on hand from a local food box we bought last week as a fundraiser for Cash's school.
Little hands can capably handle lots of the pie-making process. I started earlier in the morning by making the pie dough (helped by little hands rubbing butter into flour) and tucking it into the fridge to chill. I roasted the squash and sweet potato and left them to cool. The kids and I returned to the task a couple of hours later, and everything was ready to work with. Polly helped mash the sweet potato and squash together, and then we added the rest of the ingredients to the filling mixture.
Smoothing out the filling is one of Cash's favourite jobs. When your kids are at the helm with a recipe like this, I can't stress enough how important it is to exercise as much patience as possible. That's another reason why it's a great idea to make a special dessert in the morning (and not when you're rushing around right before guests arrive). There's lots of time. This pie is a very rustic sort of dish, also - it can handle the inconsistencies of hands that are still learning how to cook.
Sweet Potato Pie
Adapted from Canal House Cooks Every Day
For Crust: use this recipe.
- 3 pounds sweet potato, squash, or pumpkin, to measure about 2 1/2 cups when baked
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground mace
- Pinch of salt
- Freshly whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut the squash or pumpkin in half horizontally. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Poke a few holes in your sweet potato, or if it's very large, cut it in half. Place the squash/pumpkin/sweet potato cut side down on a baking pan and add a splash of water to the pan. Bake the vegetables until tender when poked with a knife, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven, set aside, and allow to cool. Reduce the oven heat to 375°.
When the veggies are cool enough to handle, scoop out enough flesh to measure 2 1/2 cups. Put the flesh into a large bowl. Discard the skins. Add the brown sugar, molasses, egg yolks, cream, ginger, cinnamon, mace, and salt, and mix together well.
Roll out the chilled dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough loosely around the rolling pin then unfurl it into a 9-inch pie pan. Lightly press it into the pan. Leave 1 inch of dough hanging over the edge. Trim any excess off with a sharp knife. Tuck the dough under itself, then use your thumb and forefinger to crimp the edge.
Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 1 hour. Serve with whipped cream.