In Kalisha Buckhanon’s novel Solemn, food brings residents of Singer trailer park together. One of the book’s most mentioned dishes is sweet potato pie, which Solemn’s mom, Bev, makes for company and family weddings and funerals. Buckhanon says the pie is a personal favorite of hers and specialty of her mother. We found this recipe in The Southern Vegetable Book: A Root-to-Stalk Guide to the South’s Favorite Produce by Rebecca Lang.
“The friendly families reclined off excess of barbecued corn on the cob and fried chicken, two sweet potato pies Solemn and Desi consumed most of, and just enough watermelon so to wet their tongues without having to run to the few outhouses too often.” – Solemn
1⁄2 (14.1-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. whipping cream
1⁄4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 tsp. table salt
3 large eggs
3 cups lightly packed, mashed cooked sweet potatoes (about 2 1⁄2 lbs. sweet potatoes)
1 cup half and half
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 large egg whites
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄8 tsp. table salt
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 (7-oz.) jar marshmallow crème
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Roll piecrust into a 13-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate; fold edges under and crimp. Prick bottom and sides with a fork. Line piecrust with parchment paper; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 425 degrees for 9 minutes. Remove weights and parchment paper. Whisk together egg yolk and cream; brush bottom and sides of crust with yolk mixture. Bake at 425 degrees for 6 to 8 more minutes or until crust is golden. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Stir together melted butter, 1 cup sugar, 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and 3 eggs in a large bowl until mixture is well blended. Add sweet potatoes and next four ingredients; stir until mixture is well blended. Pour sweet potato mixture into prepared piecrust. (Pie will be very full.)
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean, shielding with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Transfer pie to a wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).
Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Beat egg whites, vanilla and 1⁄8 teaspoon salt at high speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Beat one-fourth of marshmallow creme into egg white mixture; repeat 3 times with remaining marshmallow crème, beating until smooth (about 1 minute). Spread over pie. Bake at 400 for 6 to 7 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned.
Note: Pie can be made up to a day ahead. Prepare recipe as directed without the meringue; cover and chill up to 24 hours. Proceed as directed.
Recipe and photo from The Southern Vegetable Book: A Root-to-Stalk Guide to the South’s Favorite Produce.
Read our interview with Solemn author Kalisha Buckhanon here.