Thanksgiving celebrations in the US inspired me to make my very first All-American Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan and Pretzel Crumble Top! And we truly are in love! On this Thanksgiving, we are definitely thankful for one of the best autumnal pies we have ever created in our kitchen! If you have never tasted a sweet potato pie before, you are missing out – it’s amazing!
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Our First Sweet Potato Pie
Firstly, for the purposes of transparency, I will admit to having never made a sweet potato pie before. What is more, I have never in my life tasted one. So this recipe isn’t something that’s authentic, or expertly made. I am a complete novice at American cuisine altogether. To be honest, I had no intention of sharing the recipe to start with, but it turned out so delicious that I couldn’t resist!
The idea to make an All-American Sweet Potato Pie was born when I overheard Seb talking with his American colleagues who mentioned the upcoming Thanksgiving. So I started thinking about all the American dishes that I have never tasted and decided to make my first Sweet Potato Pie.
Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect. I was sceptical, even. Sweet potatoes for dessert just didn’t seem right to me, who only ever used them in savoury dishes. I imagined it being more or less, mashed sweet potatoes in a pastry case. So I started googling in search of ideas. I stumbled upon a recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction and took it from there. Adapting quantities and ingredients to what I had at home, I somehow arrived at a Sweet Potato Pie, Pecan Pie and Crumble Hybrid.
Oh, and I added some salted pretzels as well… Just because I had some at home and they seemed to fit the general theme… I suppose this is the place where I must offer an apology to all Americans, who make lovely traditional ‘real Southern American’ pies and see my version as a mockery. But for me, who’s never tasted one before, this was divine! It’s what we like to call an Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie recipe with a modern twist.
STEP 1: Shortcrust Pastry
You can use a shop-bought shortcrust pastry to make the pie, but it really isn’t that difficult to make your own. All you need to do is rub the butter into plain flour, and mix in icing sugar and a pinch of salt. Then add an egg yolk and bring it into a ball of dough. If the pastry is too dry and crumbling, just add a tbsp of water. The most important thing with shortcrust is not to over-knead it. Only knead it briefly so that it comes together. Working quickly and not letting the butter melt in the pastry whilst you’re handling it is a well-known secret for a flaky melt-in-the-mouth pastry.
Flatten the ball of dough slightly to make it easier to roll out later, wrap it in cling film and pop it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
STEP 2: Cooking Sweet Potatoes
Whilst the pastry chills, cook sweet potatoes. There are many ways to do that. I chose to pop the potatoes in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and cook in the microwave for 10 minutes (it may take longer depending on the size of the potatoes though). You would likely get the same result by baking them in the oven or a steamer until they’re soft. Leave sweet potatoes to cool down.
STEP 3: Baking Pie Crust
Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it out into a large thin circle on a floured surface. I rolled it out to about 3mm thickness. The tricky part is to lift it into the tart tin without breaking it. It helps to work in a cold kitchen, and if your hands are cold whilst handling it. Alternatively, you can roll it out on a large piece of non-stick baking paper and flip it onto the tart tin. Ease the pastry into the corners and up the sides, lightly pressing the overhang over the rim of the tin. Don’t cut the overhang off though, as the pastry will shrink in the oven and you can cut off the rest later.
Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork and pop it in the oven for 10 minutes. Then, take it out and leave it to cool down, whilst you prepare the filling.
STEP 4: Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Pie Filling
Scoop all the flesh out of the sweet potatoes, discarding the skins. Mash thoroughly with a fork or run them through a potato ricer. Then add the rest of the filling ingredients: cream, brown and caster sugar, vanilla paste, eggs, mixed spice and a pinch of salt. Mix to combine. If your mix is still lumpy with sweet potato, pour the mixture into a blender and whizz until smooth.
STEP 5: Baking the Pie
Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C Fan and pour the sweet potato custard into the pastry case. Smooth the surface with the back of the spoon and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
STEP 6: Pretzel and Pecan Crumble Topping
Whilst the pie bakes, prepare the Pecan & Pretzel Crumble Top. Break up your salted pretzels into smaller chunks. Then melt the butter in a pan, add sugar, cinnamon and flour and stir to combine. Take off the heat and stir in pretzel chunks and pecan nuts.
After 30 minutes of the pie cooking, take it out and carefully scatter the crumble top all over. Return to the oven for another 20-25 minutes. The All-American Sweet Potato Pie is cooked when the custard is set, but there’s still a good wobble when gently shaken. The crumble topping will have browned and crisped up.
Leave the pie to cool in the tart tin. You can then slice into it, but we found that it was at its best after chilling it for a couple of hours.
Absolutely! It is delicious with or without pecans and pretzels!
Mixed Spice is similar to Pumpkin Spice Mix in the US. You can also substitute it with 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and 1/4 tsp of ground ginger.
This pie needs time to set after baking, otherwise, the filling will run out if you cut into the pie whilst it is still hot. We recommend cooling it down to room temperature and serving it then. It is absolutely delicious after chilling it in the fridge for a couple of hours too. Even better the next day (unpopular opinion? maybe…).
Other Sweet Bakes & Cakes
We love baking and sharing our best recipes with you. Have a look at our other sweet bakes:
Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Pie with Pecans & Pretzels
For the Sweet Shortcrust Pastry:
- 150 g plain flour
- 75 g unsalted butter cubed
- 50 g icing sugar
- 1 egg yolk
For the Sweet Potato Filling:
- 400 g (raw weight) sweet potatoes unpeeled
- 160 ml double (heavy) cream
- 70 g caster sugar
- 70 g brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- ¼ tsp salt
For the Crumble Top:
- 60 g butter
- 60 g brown sugar
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 40 g flour
- 30 g salted pretzels
- 30 g pecans
Make the Pastry:
- Put flour and cubed unsalted butter in a large mixing bowl. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Mix in icing sugar and a pinch of salt. Add egg yolk and stir it in. With your hands, bring the mixture together into a ball. If it is too dry and crumbly, add a tbsp of water. Knead it very briefly until it comes to a ball of dough – the less you knead, the flakier the pastry will be when cooked.
- Flatten the ball of dough, wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll the pastry into a large circle. Carefully lift it into your 20cm (8in) loose bottom tart tin. Ease the pastry into the corners and up the sides, pressing the overhand over the rim of the tin. Leave the sides overhanging.
- Prick the bottom with a fork and pop in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Place a tray underneath the pastry to catch any pastry that will drop off the sides whilst cooking. Then remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
Make the Filling:
- Cook your unpeeled sweet potatoes. You can microwave them for approx 10-12 minutes, until soft. Alternatively, cook them in the oven or a steamer. Leave to cool down slightly.
- Scoop all of the flesh out of the cooled potatoes into a large bowl and mash well. Then add thick cream, eggs, both types of sugar, mixed spice, vanilla paste and salt. Mix to combine. If the mixture is still lumpy, pour the mixture into a blender and whizz until it's silky smooth. Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C Fan.
- Pour the sweet potato custard into your slightly cooled pastry case. Smooth the surface with the back of the spoon and place in the oven for 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the crumble top.
Make the Crumble Top:
- Break up your pretzels into smaller chunks. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Take off the heat, add brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, pecans and salted pretzel chunks. Mix everything together and set aside.
- After 30 minutes of the pie baking, take it out of the oven. Scatter the crumble top on top and pop back in the oven for another 25 minutes.
- The custard should be set with a good wobble when shaken gently. Cool at room temperature completely. We find it tastes best after chilling in the fridge for a couple of hours.