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  • Ciera Thomas

Sweet Potato Pie vs. Pumpkin Pie

Photo from Unsplash; taken by Kelsey Weinkauf

Every year when the holidays draw near, we are faced with a national pie divide, the sweet potatoist and the pumpkinists. Neither side wants to give in. They don’t take the time to listen to each other, nor do they want to take a step outside of their comfort zone. I have been brought up in a sweet potatoist household, but I’m open to see what pumpkinists have to offer. Over the course of Thanksgiving break, I’ve put two delicious pie recipes to the test, and I will decide which pie is the best pie.

When Professor Krull asked me to write a “battle of the pies” article, the only thing I could think of was “Omigoodness, he wants me to start a race war.” We all know black people don’t eat pumpkin pie, and white people don’t eat sweet potato pie. Of course, I cannot speak for ALL black and white people (southern white folks and you closeted black pumpkin pie eaters). But, we cannot deny the culture of sweet potato pie amongst black families and pumpkin pie amongst white families. However, it’s quite ironic the hold sweet potato pie has on black culture considering it’s a white desert.

Sweet potatoes originated from Peru, and Spanish traders shipped them throughout the Americas and across the Atlantic. They made a stop in West Africa where cassava, plantains, and yams are a staple in their cuisine. Despite their love of carbs, sweet potatoes weren’t a hit, but it was in Europe. Sweet potato desserts were of high esteem and were enjoyed by those of elite status such as Henry VIII. Shakespeare even shouted them out in a play! Sweet potato pie and other sweet potato treats trickled their way down from the English elite to the English public and were soon adopted by wealthy Americans. Sweet potato pie became a big hit in antebellum South. Southern cooks favored sweet potato recipes over pumpkin because sweet potatoes grow easier in the south, just as Northern cooks favored pumpkin recipes, because pumpkins are easier to grow in the north. Sweet potato pie stood in cookbooks right alongside pumpkin pie and even squash pie. Black cooks were tasked with preparing sweet potato pie, and this was how sweet potatoes and sweet potato pie implanted themselves into black culture and cuisine.

The very first pumpkin pie couldn’t have been made without the help of Northeastern Native Americans. They were the ones that introduced pumpkins to the English settlers of the Plymouth Colony. This lead to the making of the first pumpkin pie about 50 years later. The Pumpkin pie itself has evolved over the centuries. There used to be no crust and sometimes there were layers of sliced or fried pumpkin.

Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, which pie tastes the best? They both taste very similar! Neither one was better or worse. The sweet potato pie had a thicker consistency than the pumpkin pie. However, the pumpkin pie was a lot smoother and almost creamier. I’m not sure how since they both had the same amount of milk, but I can understand how it can taste smoother since the sweet potato pie had more sweet potatoes than the pumpkin

pie had pumpkin filling, so the pumpkin pie was thinner. The pumpkin pie had a few more spices that stood out but other than that, there really isn’t that much to add other than that they were very enjoyable. Pumpkin pie just may stand right alongside the sweet potato pie on my dining table for now on.

The recipe for the sweet potato and pumpkin pies came from the YouTuber Charlie Andrews.

Sweet Potato Pie

3 large sweet potatoes

2 large eggs room temp

12 oz evaporated milk

1 ½ Sugar

¼ cup flour (optional)

4 Tbsp melted unsalted butter

1 Tbsp Vanilla extract

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/8 tsp Nutmeg

1/8 tsp Allspice

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. You can either bake your sweet potatoes for 1 hour and 45 minutes or you can boil them until fork tender. I prefer baking them. They taste richer when I do that. Once they are done, let them cool until they are cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin. With a mixer, mix the sweet potatoes on a high speed for 40 seconds then scrape the sides of the bowl. Do this for 6 rounds, and after each mix, remove the access potatoe strings on the mixer attatchments. Next, add two eggs and mix till combined. Add 4 tbsp of melted butter and mix and scrape. Then add the evaporated milk. Mix and scrape. Add the sugar. Mix until well combined and scrape. Add the seasonings and vanilla extract. Optional, add flour for thicker consistency. Mix and scrape. Add Sweet potatoe pie filling to prepared pie dish and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Pumpkin Pie

15 oz can pumpkin puree

2 large eggs room temp

4 Tbsp melted unsalted butter

1 1/3 cup sugar

1/8 tsp salt

12 oz evaporated milk

½ tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ginger powder

¼ ground gloves

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbsp flour

Pre-made or homeade pie crust

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Add your pumpkin puree and eggs to a bowl and mix with hand mixer until combined. Scrape the sides with a spatula then add the 4 Tbsp of melted butter. Mix with hand mixer until well incorporated. Scrape the sides and add the can of evaoparted milk and mix. Add the sugar, then mix and scrape. Add the seasonings, vanilla extract, and flour, mix and scrape then pour into your prepared pie pan. Bake the pie for 1 hour.


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