Let’s bake a pie today, it just feels like the right thing to do.
This is my favorite time of year to bake. The jewel-tone hues of the produce section combined with my heart’s yearning for cozy spices makes me want to spend all of my days in the kitchen with windows open, candles burning, and a very eclectic folksy playlist.
I love a good pie. There’s artistry in pie-making and I love the satisfaction of setting a pie topped with at least six-inches of meringue on the counter.
That said, pies are not always the most convenient desserts, especially when it comes to serving a crowd. And in my family, there is usually a crowd. Enter, the slab pie. Slab pies, the more recent cousin of the sheet cake, have gained popularity in the past several years and I am one of their fans.
What a slab pie sacrifices in classicism, it makes up for in convenience. After all, a standard pie plate can offer only so many servings and who wants to make two pie crusts and fit two pies into their refrigerator? Not me.
There is my argument for the slab pie. It is not a replacement, but an option - an equally delicious option.
This particular pie was inspired by some Bourbon-laden sweet potatoes that Mr. Pedantic ordered several months back. They were more of a dessert than a side dish, though he and I disagree on that front, but the flavor was so much better than I had expected.
This pie, like its inspiration, is full of flavor that is not too sweet, but so rich and warming. It is not overly spiced, either, so the sweet potatoes remain in center stage, along with notes of vanilla and Bourbon.
The crust requires no kneading or chilling, and is gluten-free!
I always use gluten-free pretzels for this crust because I find that they hold up to the filling so much better than traditional pretzels.
While there are more than a few steps required, this pie still comes together very quickly. Especially if you cook and cool the sweet potatoes in advance.
After the crust and filling have baked and chilled, we make a quick meringue. Sure you could use whipped cream, but I love the marshmallow-y element of a meringue.
Pipe it or spread it, the choice is yours.
Use a torch (I buy mine at Home Depot) to brown the meringue until it is golden brown and completely irresistible.
Sheet cakes have nothing on this situation.
Bourbon Sweet Potato Slab Pie with Gluten-Free Pretzel Pecan Crust
serves up to twenty
for the crust
recipe adapted from Bon Appetite Magazine
8 ounces gluten-free pretzels
2 cups pecans
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
6 tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In the work bowl of your food processor, combine pretzels and pecans. Pulse until the mixture is in coarse crumbs.
Pour in unsalted butter and brown sugar and pulse until the mixture comes together and pulls away from the sides of the processor.
Pour the filling into a 12x16 high-sided baking pan lined with parchment paper. Use the tips of your finger to press the crust into the pan, forming a tight, even layer.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, until the edges have deepened in color. Allow to cool while you prepare the filling.
for the filling
3 cups sweet potato puree (from about 3 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes)*
2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
6 large eggs
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup Bourbon whiskey
*You can use baked sweet potatoes or boiled. To boil, peel all the potatoes and place in a 4-quart saucepan. Cover the potatoes with water and place the pan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain and transfer to the bowl of your food processor. Blend until silky smooth.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, vanilla extract, spices, salt, and melted butter; whisk until smooth and well-combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, whipping cream, and Bourbon.
Add the heavy cream mixture to the large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust and use a spatula to smooth out the surface. The mixture will be very thin.
Bake the pie for 40-45 minutes; until the edges are puffed and the center is just set.
Allow the pie to cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours; until the mixture has set.
After the pie has set, prepare the meringue.
Cook’s Note: While the pie itself can be made several days in advance, the meringue is best if made just before serving.
for the meringue
4 large egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in the work bowl of your stand mixer.
Beat the egg whites on high speed. When the mixture is white and foamy, begin sprinkling in the sugar one teaspoon at a time. After all the sugar has been incorporated and the meringue is stiff and shiny, test for stiff peaks. If the meringue is still soft, continue mixing until it has reached stiff peaks.
Transfer the meringue to a piping bag and decorate the surface of the pie. Or, use a spatula to spread the meringue over the pie.
Use a propane torch to brown the meringue.