Sweet Potato Popcorn Pie
Well doesn’t this look like a seriously intriguing cake? I’ve been so looking forward to sharing this one with you all, but I wanted to bring it in all its seasonal, festive glory – and Bonfire Night here in the UK seems perfect.
But before I tell you just how deliciously wondrous this pie is, a warning: if you’re a traditional sweet potato pie connoisseur, this does not play by the rules. Because I don’t really know what the rules are, and I haven’t actually looked at a recipe for a sweet potato pie …
This concoction is an incredibly happy experiment, based on a vague memory of a pumpkin pie I made about five years ago that was so rich and creamy it was close to inciting a coma at a party. If I remember correctly, I also burnt the dinner that night, so yeah – successful.
But never mind that; how awesome is this cake? It has:
- a crunchy, nutty, slightly salty, pecan and pretzel base;
- the smoothest, silkiest, custardy, creamy filling you could imagine;
- subtle, not-too-sweet flavours of apple, custard (it really is surprisingly custardy) and a little cinnamon spice; and
- a crowning glory of smoky, crisp popcorn.
IT’S SO GOOD.
And you know what else is good?
You don’t even need a mixing bowl – just a food processor, or something resembling one.
The seasonal flavours in this pie really shout Bonfire Night to me (do ingredients speak to you, too?), especially if you pop your corn just across the line from ‘done’ to ‘mildly smoking’. A little charring can do wonders in the right circumstance – just not as a result of standing too close to a bonfire. Unless you’re one of Dad’s old Glaxo boiler suits stuffed with newspaper. Do people still do that?
If you’re wondering about the texture, or even what this pie stands for in terms that mean something to you, it’s part-baked cheesecake, part-French custard apple flan. But oh so much more exciting.
I’ve been eating it for breakfast. Even Dan, who is not usually one for cake of any kind, has been whittling down the wedge currently residing in our fridge. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that I’m dedicated to this pie, and it has a hold over me.
Will you be bringing one to your Bonfire Night party this weekend?
November is here
And so with talk of bonfires, November is upon us. I hope you had fun over the Halloween weekend; we had a Saturday fright night watching Cabin in The Woods (does that count? it scared me, but I imagine an eight year old would have been fine), and eating green snake lasagne (using the pasta from this recipe); and of course we carved – and ate – pumpkins on the big day itself.
It was Sunday though that really stole the show in true ‘red stuff spurting everywhere’ style…
As I took my seat (and then changed seats) in the gloriously atmospheric Prince Charles Cinema for a screening of cult classic horror movie, Halloween, I projected an entire glass of red wine all over myself, my coat, and the seat next to me. I could hear it, like a tide. Hello, my name is Laura and I’m a clutz. An anxious one. My fear of the person sitting behind me finding out any second now that a pool of fermented grape was sloshing around their feet or in their handbag gave me way more fear than the masked serial killer who kept lurking awkwardly behind the neighbour’s washing line.
You’ll be relieved to hear, I hope, that my freshly-washed coat took one for the team and soaked up the entire leviathan-by-way-of-shiraz; and public shame was avoided – until I noticed people in the street could smell it (the coat and my shame).
- 100g pecans
- 50g pretzels* (I used quinoa Bretzels)
- 2 dates, pitted
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- A good pinch of salt - only if pretzels are unsalted
- Pie Filling
- 400g sweet potato (approx 2 small potatoes)
- 3 eating apples
- 60g cashews**
- 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 25g un-popped corn for popping
- Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
- Begin by preparing the sweet potatoes and apples. Put a medium saucepan of water on the hob to boil. Core and chop two of the apples into small chunks (about 1cm) and put them in the saucepan. Put a colander above this. Peel the potatoes and cut into small chunks (again, about 1cm) and put these into the colander and cover with a small pan lid. Cook for 10 minutes, until soft.
- Chop and core the remaining apple and combine in a bowl with the lemon juice and cinnamon.
- While these are cooking, make the base. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you have a crumb - you don't want a powder. You could do this by hand with a rolling pin if not using a food processor.
- Line the bottom of a 7-inch spring form tin with parchment paper, and lightly oil the sides with coconut oil.
- Pour the base crumb into the tin and press down evenly with your hands or the back of a spoon.
- You can now drain the sweet potato and apple and place these in the food processor (if not using one, a hand-held blender should work). Add to these the cashews, maple syrup, vanilla essence, and arrowroot powder. Blitz on high power until you have a smooth, creamy consistency.
- Stir half of the cinnamon apple pieces in by hand, and pour the filling mixture into the tin. Level-out with the back of a spoon and sprinkle on the remaining apple pieces.
- Cook in the centre of the oven for 50-60 minutes.
- Once cooked, leave to cool in the tin before putting in the fridge to set completely. You can serve sooner, but it won't be as solid.
- Serve with freshly popped corn.
- This pie will keep in the fridge, covered, for a week.
** Soak overnight in water if not using a high-powered food processor.
Arrowroot powder is what helps the filling to set. If you don't have any (most large supermarkets stock it), try using potato starch, cornflour or tapioca flour.
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