Monday, December 2, 2013

Guest Piper Huguley with Aunt Cee's Sweet Potato Pie

Jan here, and I'm so pleased to introduce you to Piper, our guest in the Cafe's kitchen today!

Take it away, Piper....

Aunt Cee’s Sweet Potato Pie

Look!  The chair is empty and the remote control has been abandoned!  It’s the one time of the year that DH is in the kitchen—he makes sweet potato pie for us!

Hello!  I’m thrilled to guest in the Yankee-Belle Café today.  A few months ago, I mentioned on Facebook that my husband makes his sweet potato pie for us for the holidays.  Jan asked me to share it with you.  I am happy to do so.  A word of warning though:  this is my husband’s recipe.  I will come in and try to clarify as I can!

This recipe makes 4 pies.
I told you, this was a man’s recipe. Aunt Cee was not a man, but she made a lot of pie.


Sweet potatoes (8 or 9 medium sized ones)
Cinnamon (3 teaspoons)
A big bag of sugar (3 ½ to 4 cups about 2 pounds, but I always buy a new 5 lb. bag)
Nutmeg (2 teaspoons)
1 stick of butter (This is the same, ½ cup of butter, softened)
1 can of evaporated milk (Yes, the whole can—12 ounces)
3 eggs (No clarification needed here!)
Vanilla extract  (3 teaspoons.  It doesn't matter if it is pure or imitation vanilla extract)
4 regular sized graham cracker crusts or 3 of the larger sized graham cracker crusts


Have your wife boil the sweet potatoes.  Go back to the comfy striped chair and watch SportsCenter or better yet, the James Bond Marathon.

(I get my biggest dutch oven pot and fit the potatoes down into it. Don’t be afraid to cut them if you need to, but keep the size of the potatoes in the medium range.  The larger potatoes don’t have the sweetness and have more fibers in them!  Cover with cold water and boil the potatoes until your sharpest knife slides easily through each potato. This can take up to two hours.)

Your wife should line up everything to put into the bowl with the cooked sweet potatoes:

When the potatoes are done, while they are unpeeled,  run cold water over them.  This makes them easier to handle, but you don’t want them to get cold.  Fold up two or three  wadded up paper towels to grab the slightly cooled potato to peel  away skins with a paring knife.  The skins come off easily because of the boiling process.  Put the potatoes into a big bowl (or if you have a mixer like Thor, he can do this job as well. It would be a little overwhelming for Miss Edna.) Throw the skins away.

Pour the entire can of evaporated milk in the bowl.

Put the stick of softened butter in the bowl

Crack the three eggs in the bowl with the mixture.  So in the bowl, you have potatoes, milk, butter and eggs. 


Call in your husband.  Make sure nothing important is on tv, but it is a crucial time, because the potatoes need to remain hot. 

If you don’t have Thor the mixer to take care of this next step, then you can use a hand mixer.  If the potatoes are hot, the “strings” of the sweet potatoes will come off on the beaters rather than stay in with the pie. 

Start mixing.  While mixing, have your wife put in the sugar, a cup at a time, the vanilla, sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg in.  Put in 3 ½ cups of sugar and taste.

(Umm. This is disgusting because of the raw eggs and salmonella danger, but DH swears by this step.  It lets him know if we have a sweet batch of potatoes, and if you need the other ½ cup of sugar or not.  Whatever, I would just put in the 4 cups and take my chances.)

The mixture should look like this:

Note the color.  There is something about the color that is the Holy Grail, DH says.  I am not sure what it is, but I took a picture of it to show you.  Also note: someone watched a little too much of Dr. No or something because the mixture is a little lumpier than usual.  That’s okay, it will still be good, but it is a warning not to let the potatoes cool too much!

Go back and finish Dr. No and hope you didn’t miss the part with Ursula Andress in it. 

Divide the mixture between your 4 pie shells.  You want a nice high pie. It takes about 4 big cooking-spoon sized spoonfuls to fill the pie shells.  Spread the mixture with the spatula in each pie to even it out for baking.  If you have a little extra you can still divide it between the 4 pie shells.  It won’t spill over. 

You can also make sweet potatoes pancakes or muffins or bread with the extra, but I do like all the mixture to go into the pies. Sometimes we give the pies as gifts and you want people to see they’ve received a nice-sized pie. 

Put the four pies into a 350 degree oven.  They take about an hour and a half to cook.  The top should be set firm with a little slight browning on top.  If you take them out too soon, the filling will crack. It will be good, but who wants a cracked pie top?  See here:

That little browned part in the middle of the pie let’s you know it is done.  If you don’t like the looks of it, you can pull it off and taste it.  Ahhh.  It’s cooked now. 

Let the pies cool in the refrigerator.  The plastic shell that came with the crusts makes a nice cover for the pie once you remove all the paper and the glue inside of it. Just top with a bow for gift giving. 

My Dad got a little sneak peek—he deserves it! 

Merry Christmas and Enjoy! 

Jan here again. Don't those pies look fabulous? And here's a bit about our guest:

Piper G Huguley is the author of Migrations of the Heart, a five-book series of inspirational historical romances set in the early 20th century featuring African American characters.  Book four in the series, A Champion’s Heart, was a Golden Heart finalist in 2013.  Book one in her new historical series Home to Milford College was a semi-finalist in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest.  
She blogs about the history behind her novels at She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son. 


  1. I am going to hazard a guess and say this is couple's effort on the pie. I didn't even think about the size of the sweet potatoes or that they are less lumpy if they are hot.

    This explains some fails in my own recipes.

    And NUTMEG....and practically a whole bag of sugar.

    Thanks for starting off my Monday!

  2. Yep, those are the secrets, Julie! I never realized what difference these things made before! Thanks for coming by!

  3. Oh, my, A pie making man. How cool. I won't lie, I was really in love with your chair before the couch. LOVE THE CHAIR!!!

    Love the pie. Thank you to DA MAN for sharing his recipe. (and chair!!!)

  4. This is so bad. I am non functioning without coffee. It should say, I love the chair before the PIE. Couch is cool too btw. But love those big chair and a 1/2 pieces. I have one in pale green corduroy. LOVE IT.

    1. Aww, Tina! I knew what you meant! And since we were hanging out at my Dad's house for the holiday, the chair belongs to him. The chair at our house is much more broken down than that.....:)

  5. Good morning, everyone! And WELCOME PIPER!!!

    Doesn't that pie look fabulous? I'm buying more sweet potatoes on this week's shopping trip.....

    And I love the hint about how to get rid of the "strings". Didn't Ruthy say something similar about squash?

    1. found it! nov 21 with the butternut squash - Ruthy said to use the kitchenaid mixer blades and it'd catch the strings! dont' remember the temp though but I'm gonna have to get a notebook and take notes for the day I actually cook something!

      btw, my aunt and cousin were talking about the different flours and making gravy - they said one would NOT work - was it self rising or all purpose? can't remember!


    2. Susanna,

      Self-rising flour had baking powder and salt mixed into it, stuff you don't want in your gravy. Stick to all-purpose. Thanks for stopping by!

    3. Thanks Jan for having me here! I have no dogs, so I had to post the pic of my Dad instead!

    4. LOL! We won't tell your dad he's substituting for my dogs :)

    5. Good thing Dad doesn't do the Internet! LOL! Oh, and DH says my Bond reference was wrong. Oh well, they kind of all run together!

  6. I want to try this! maybe I can justify buying a mixer (or getting married?!) not sure the graham cracker crust would fly with the extended family - they're kinda set on that other kind - even the premade frozen ones I know my mom bought at the grocery store..probably over by the fruit and cool whip..but you never know might be with the bread.hmmm...I hadn't even thought about threads and lumps - probably because I'm usually chowing on the meringue pies and date nut balls :-) I need to find the date nut ball recipe- my aunt made awesome ones then the recipe started failing a bit - my cousin said she wasn't making them the same...

    Jan I think Ruthy or someone said the beaters would catch the strings on the squash but can't remember exactly...

    hey we got a gratuitious dad pic instead of puppy pic! poor guy didn't get much of a sample unless the pic was taken a minute after he started eating LOL!


    1. We kind of looked at the graham cracker crust funny at first too. I am held in great esteem in my larger family as a good piecrust maker (I will even make "cookies" just to have them sometimes...). But the crust works well--it all has this autumnal flavor that just works! And if it saves me time to generate some more words...well, I learned how to go with it.

      We have no dogs. I look forward to looking at Thatcher growing up so I like to look at his pictures on Mondays. And yes, the pic was taken just as he took his first bite, so he got the whole piece!

    2. There are certain pies that just NEED a graham cracker crust, aren't there?

      I used to try to make my own, but every time I bought graham crackers to make it, they would disappear. Even if I bought two boxes....

      And the pre-made is SO much easier :)

      Susanna - I usually find them in the baking aisle, somewhere around the sugar and cake mixes.

  7. Love this couples pie making thing you got going on there, Piper. Naturally, DH got to do all the fun stuff and you had to do the prep. Why is that? Guess they're used to use spoiling them.

    I can't recall if I've ever had sweet potato pie. I want to say I have, but it's obviously been years. Not sure it would fly with my guys though. I have one who won't eat pie of any kind. Why? I don't know. He's just weird, I guess. And since we only had pumpkin and apple pie for dessert on Thanksgiving, I don't know what he ate. Poor guy, needs to learn to broaden his horizons. Of course, he'd much rather be watching James Bond with your husband. :)

    1. No. Pie. I'm speechless.

      I can almost understand not liking chocolate...almost.... But PIE?!?!?

    2. Is that the Amish thing going on there, Jan? Pie is one of the food groups isn't it? I called myself doing a research project on the Amish when I was a teenager and wanted to become Amish so much, just for the pie (and all the other good food). I am a native Pennsylvanian after all. Alas, I had to stay a Presbyterian.

  8. Lol! Yes, let's let them watch together! I will say DS is not wowed by his Dad's pie. He has had some, but it it is something that he really wants, it will not last long! :)

  9. So...this Canuck has never had sweet potato pie. Hasn't even considered it and even after this, can't quite imagine it. Sweet potatoes in a pie?! What does it taste like? Honestly, I think I need to do a culinary tour of the states to taste all these recipes we don't use up here. :-)

    1. Hey Kav,

      If you've ever had pumpkin pie, the taste is very similar. Some people would swear it's not, but it is. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Piper, this looks delicious!! Tell your husband we appreciate him sharing! Although I'm with you on going ahead and adding all the sugar. No tasting raw eggs! LOL

  11. What a fun read, Piper. Now to get out the calculator and figure out how to half or quarter that recipe :-)
    Nancy C

  12. I am late to the party, but PIPER!!!! I am incorporating some of your ideas into that awesome idea for pecan-topped ( and maybe bottomed!!!) sweet potato pie I'm playing with! This rocks!!!! And I hadn't thought of using Graham cracker crusts for spice pies until I saw this, and then I remembered that Abbott's frozen Custard (my Achille's heel) put chunks of graham cracker in their pumpkin pie custard flavor... not regular pie crust. And I loved it, but hadn't thought of it! Wonderful idea.

    Like Tina, I love the furniture. So country sweet and virtually unfindable these days. Did you know that almost all living room furniture is in some shade of tan/brown/cream now?

    SO BORING!!!! I had to find cute country stuff for $75 on Craig's List and the college girl said I was the ONLY ONE to call about the set... in a month!!! :) Laughing because I love it!

    PIPER!!!! This is awesome stuff. I get the color reference because the shade of "burnt orange" tells us if the spices are just right. :) (I am humoring husband because there is no such thing as too much cinnamon, is there??? shh, do not tell him I said that. )

    Can't wait to play with this!

    1. Thanks for coming by Ruthy! I'm not the biggest nut fan in the world, but your pie did look good on FB the other day.
      My parents' set is a few years old, so I didn't know about the color variations, but the deck, where that picture was taken, is the most comfortable room in the house, and that is the most comfortable chair, hence, DH loves to sit in it.
      You are right, the spices do have something to do with the color. But yes, when he gets that canister out and starts shaking it down in there, it is a sight to behold! Good luck within playing with it!