Sweet Potato Pie with Pecans and Molasses

This is the James Brown of pies, y’all.  Which is to say it’s got soul and will make you feel good.  It’s a conflux of flavors that combines two of my favorite pies–sweet potato and sticky pecan.  Never let it be said in my presence that less is more.


For the sweet potato part:

1/2 recipe of only the best brisée ever

approximately 1 lb. of sweet potatoes

1/4 cup softened unsalted butter

the zest of an orange

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 large eggs

1 can of sweetened condensed milk


For the sticky pecan topping:

1 large egg

3 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses

2 teaspoons of light brown sugar

1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter

a pinch of salt

1 cup of chopped pecans



While your paté brisée is chilling in the refrigerator, bake your sweet potatoes.  Scrub them, pierce them with a fork, and place them on a baking tray covered with foil.  I bake mine for about an hour at 350ºF/180ºC/Gas4.

pre-baked potatoes

Allow them to cool while you blind bake your pie crust for about 15 minutes at 350ºF/180ºC/Gas4..  When it’s close to finished, brush it with egg white and place it back in the oven for another minute or so.

Next, spoon out the soft caramelized center of the sweet potatoes and add them to a large mixing bowl.

caramelized baked sweet potato


Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Use a whisk to smooth out lumps.


Pour the mixture into your partially baked shell.  Bake for 30 minutes.

During this time, mix together the ingredients for your sticky pecan topping.

After half an hour, remove the pie from the oven.  Evenly spoon the topping over the pie and place it back in the oven.  Bake for another 15-20 minutes.

When the pie is finished, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.  Serve with a whipped cream of your choice.  For this recipe, mine is cinnamon whipped cream.  I highly recommend it.

baked pie with topping sticky pecans cross section slice



Blue Horizon Pie

You know those days that are so hot and humid walking down the street feels more like wading in lukewarm buttermilk?  That was Friday in London.  Every living creature stood still waiting for a breeze.  Even the flowers.  It was like summer in the American South.  Everything limp and languid and smelling stronger than usual.  That night, the moon hung like a giant peach glowing in the sky.  A giant Georgia peach.  The Summer Solstice was upon us.

The next day, I arose with tender thoughts of home and a yen to bake a Blue Horizon pie.  It’s basically a lemon chess pie but I call it Blue Horizon as it reminds me of the song by Sidney Bechet.  Each note hanging as long as it can just like each flavor does in every bite.  Sticky and salty and lemony sweet.

Photo on 2013-06-23 at 21.10


1/2 pâte brisée recipe

1 cup granulated or caster sugar

1 cup demerara or turbinado sugar (for crunch)

1/4 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 whole milk or evaporated milk for extra richness

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

4 large eggs lightly beaten

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 425ºF/220ºC/Gas 7.

Roll out pâte brisée and fit to a 9″ tart pan.  Prick the bottom of the pie dough with a fork.  Line the pastry with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or beans.  Put the tart pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove the weights and whatever material you used to line the pastry.  Return to the oven and bake for 3 more minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients saving the eggs for last.  Incorporate those by gently stirring them into the mixture.

Place the tart pan on the cookie sheet.  Now pour the mixture into the pie shell.  Turn the oven temperature down to 350ºF/180ºC/Gas 4.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack and enjoy.  I always serve this with a dollop of Greek yogurt for extra coolness and tang.

*I must add that my gorgeous friend, Miss Danielle Bell, over at de Porres is Queen of Most American Pies.  And that a classic chess pie is one of her specialities.  Please check it out.

Greedy Summer Squirrel Pie

Photo on 2013-06-19 at 13.15 #3

I’m greedy.  Greedy like a fat fluffy-tailed squirrel.  Especially when it comes to pie.  One of the things I love most about summer is the abundance of berries.  I take to the bushes like my spirit animal and take home bags of these sweet fruit.  Some of them I turn into preserves.  Some I freeze and save for fall crumbles.  Some I turn straight into pie.

Here is my favorite blueberry pie recipe of the moment.  Perfect for staining summer whites and best served orchestrated to the plnokety plonk of Thelonious’ Blue Monk in Newport, circa 1958. What I love most about it is the frangipane at the bottom.  I hope you do too.


half the pâte brisée recipe

600 grams (2 1/2 cups) fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained

100 (0.4 cups) grams ground almonds

100 grams (0.4 cups) sugar

2 egg whites

powdered sugar (icing sugar)


Put a baking tray in your oven and preheat to 400ºF/200ºC/gas6.

Roll your pâte brisée to fit a fluted tart dish approximately 10 inches in diameter.  Trim the edges and save the pastry for decoration.

In a bowl, blend the almonds, sugar, and egg whites with a mixer.

Spoon the mixture into the base of the tin.

Now carefully tip the blueberries on top of the almond mixture and spread as evenly as possible.

Using your extra pastry, roll out a shape with your favorite cookie cutter.  Place it in the center of your pie.

Spoon some powdered sugar into a sieve and sprinkle evenly over your pie.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the edges of your pie are golden brown and your blueberries are starting to sink.  Do not let them bake until they are mush.

Cool completely and serve with crème fraîche, Greek yogurt, or your favorite vanilla ice cream.