One year when we lived in the islands I couldn’t find canned pumpkin for pumpkin pie at the grocery store, so I substituted freshly cooked and mashed sweet potatoes for the pumpkin and it quickly became our favorite “pumpkin” pie. It can fool most tasters and when people compliment you on your pumpkin pie, just smile and say thanks. I’ve read this year that canned pumpkin is in short supply, so it is an excellent time to give this Bahamian Sweet Potato Pie a try. Feel free to use cooked or canned pumpkin in you like. In case you’re wondering, the Bahamians do not, of course, celebrate our American Thanksgiving, but they were always pleased to be invited to our home to share our Thanksgiving feast.
I adapted this recipe from a wonderful island cookbook, Gourmet Bahamian Cooking by Marie Mendelson and Marguerite Sawyer from Green Turtle Cay in Abaco, The Bahamas. Their recipe was Molasses Pumpkin Pie. They called for one-half cup of light molasses, but I used half molasses and half maple syrup. My liquor of choice is Myers Dark Rum, but a good Bourbon works well also.
I’m sure you’ve seen the fall piecrust cutters on the cover of the Thanksgiving edition of the Williams-Sonoma catalog or in their stores. There are four patterns: bay leaf, maple, acorn and oak leaves. I’m not a great baker and especially not the best pie decorator, but thanks to these cutters my pie looked very pretty. I was even able to hide the inevitable crack that always seems to occur somewhere. At Williams-Sonoma's website there’s even a video showing you how to use them. You can make them in advance, freeze them on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and remove from the freezer in time for them to thaw before you need them. I’m also told they are attractive on a wheel of brie, for instance, all during the year, so they aren’t just for the holiday season. You could also use them to decorate a Beef Wellington. They would also make a nice gift because it's not often you can find such a fun "foodie" present for under twenty dollars.
We’ve been traveling the last couple of weeks and just returned home after putting 2000 miles on the car along with helping my husband’s father celebrate his 97th birthday. My pie baking has been more last minute this year than I had wished and this was posted much later than I had originally planned. I hope that each of you have a wonderful holiday season and a happy Thanksgiving.
Bahamian Rummy Sweet Potato Pie
Adapted from Gourmet Bahamian Cooking by Mendelson & Sawyer
1 9” unbaked pie shell for pie itself
Separate 9” unbaked pie shell for fall pie crust decorations, optional but nice
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 ½ cups freshly cooked and mashed sweet potato
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup maple syrup
1 can (12 ounce) evaporated skimmed milk
¼ cup dark rum or bourbon
1 beaten egg with 2 tsp. water for egg wash for the pastry leaves if using
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. (If you plan to make the decorative leaves, roll out the second crust and cut the leaves according to the package decorations and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and set aside in the refrigerator.)
Fit the unbaked pie shell in a pie pan. In a large bowl, beat the eggs slightly. Add sweet potatoes, sugar, and seasonings; blend well. Slowly add the molasses, maple syrup and evaporated skimmed milk, stirring until well mixed. Add liquor. Pour into the pie shell.
Baked in a preheated 425 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. (If using the decorative leaves around the edges, remove the pie from the oven and decorate the edges. Brush the leaves with an egg wash (1 beaten egg mixed with 2 teaspoons water) Bake the pie for 40 minutes longer or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
If you want to decorate the top of the pie with the leaves, brush remaining leaves with egg wash and bake on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper in a 375 degree F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, taking care not to burn them. When pastry is cooled, decorate the top of the pie with the leaves.
As a post script I wanted to share with you that there must be something in our house that doesn't like Thanksgiving. Last year the septic system backed up and we had to call one of our guests and ask if we could bring everything to her house to cook and also would she mind we dined there also. An embarrassing moment, but thankfully our friend said yes and even invited us to spend the night. This year the dishwasher is on the fritz. C'est la vie. I hope each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.