Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Purple Sweet Potato Pie: An Exercise in Multisensory Baking

Baking engages every sense. We use our eyes to select ingredients and observe their transformation as they are combined. We listen to the sound of sugar hissing as it is poured into a bowl. We use our hands to work dough, sometimes noticing an uncanny resemblance to a body part or human flesh. We smell the aroma of butter, flour, sugar and eggs, and are immediately transported to another time; a time when small hands firmly grasped mixer beaters coated in raw pastry, our mouths whetted by appetites larger than paltry batter could yield. We felt the granular texture of sugar and the grit of grain against our butter moistened tongues. Years later we wonder; is there really any greater pleasure than this?

Ingredients are important for the quality and variety of experience they bring to the palate. When ingredients are particularly vibrant in color the multisensory experience of baking grows more expansive and transports the senses. In the case of the Stokes® Purple Sweet Potato the benefits extend beyond vision and taste; the potatoes contain a high concentration of the phytochemical anthocyanin, the same beneficial antioxidant found in blueberries. Watching the potato ricer exude deep purple strands has a way of making the sides of one's mouth curl up in a smile, a gentle reminder that baking can be fun and beautiful.

Purple Sweet Potato Pie
Recipe by Michelle Krell Kydd
Yield: Two Pies

·        4 cups Stokes® Purple Sweet Potatoes (baked, cooled and mashed with a ricer)
·        1 cup dark muscovado sugar (firmly packed)
·        1 cup light coconut milk
·        2 tbsp. dark rum
·        1 tsp. vanilla
·        4 large omega-3 eggs
·        4 tbsp. cornstarch
·        1 tbsp. ground China cassia cinnamon
·        1 tsp. ground cardamom
·        1 tsp. ground nutmeg
·        1 tsp. non-iodized sea salt

Preparing the Potatoes
·        The day before you make the pie prepare 5 medium Stokes® Purple Sweet Potatoes for baking.
·        Preheat oven to 400F.
·        Gently rinse each potato using your fingers to rub off any surface dirt. Pat potatoes dry with a paper towel and check the potatoes to make sure they aren’t bruised, (if they are cut out what can’t be used and discard).
·       Using the tines of a fork poke holes in the surface of the potato. Wrap in aluminum foil with the poked side facing up. This will allow air to escape and prevent the potato from bursting in the oven.
·        Bake for 50-60 minutes at 400 degrees. When done, open the foil carefully (the purple juice can stain clothing and hands) and allow each potato to cool before re-wrapping and placing in the refrigerator overnight.

Preparing the Pies
·        Preheat oven to 325F.
·        Remove the skins from the potatoes and cut into half inch slices. Fill a potato ricer to the half point and mash the potatoes through the ricer, putting pressure on the ends of the handles for maximum efficiency. Repeat until you can fill your mixing bowl with four cups of mashed potatoes.
·        In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, dark rum, vanilla, and light coconut milk.
·        Add dark muscovado sugar, corn starch, China cassia cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt to the liquid mixture and mix well.
·        Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and incorporate.
·        Using a ladle fill two pie crusts with the sweet potato custard, smoothing the tops with the end of the ladle to ensure even baking.
·        Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
·        Cool on a rack for at least an hour.
·        Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. Serve with a dollop of non-fat Greek yogurt and garnish with pecans.

Sweet potatoes are tubers and are related to the Morning Glory family of plants.

Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes are available at select Whole Foods stores. You can also purchase them online

Glass Petal Smoke recommends the OXO® Ricer. Its ergonomic design makes it a pleasure to work with.

Okinawa Sweet Potatoes are less purple than the Stokes® and possess a flavor profile nuanced with spice. They will work in this recipe (as will regular sweet potatoes) and are available at Melissa's.