home sweet (potato) home hand pies

i like to think of sweet potato pie as pie for people who want to love pumpkin pie, but don’t. because who doesn’t love sweet potato?! the feel of sweet potato is thicker and starchier than pumpkin, although the filling ingredients are similar to that of pumpkin pie. the natural flavors of sweet potato are elevated and made that much warmer by the spices. wrapped in a flaky and tender all-butter pie crust, these little pies aren’t just adorable, they’re amazing. they also just happen to be the perfect little baked gift to any loved ones you’re thinking about this thanksgiving!

home sweet [potato] home. home has always been a deep and meaningful symbol in my life. but i think that in 2020, ‘home’ has taken on deeper, maybe different, maybe crazed, maybe more important meaning. maybe you’ve come to loathe your home; maybe you’ve found yourself bored and locked up with cabin fever; maybe you’ve cursed the pandemic for coming at an incredibly bad time in your life; maybe ‘home’ has been tension and fights and monotonous repetition and lulls. or maybe it’s been warm. maybe you’ve cleaned and cleansed and recycled; maybe there’s been exciting additions and smiling faces; maybe you’ve cooked and baked with all your love in the kitchen; maybe you’ve learned something new about yourself; maybe you finally slowed down and had the time to really revel in the company of your loved ones; maybe your child wasn’t surprised with glee that you were home all day because she didn’t have to be surprised with glee that you were home all day. or maybe there’s been ups and downs, pull-out-your-hair days along with laugh-until-your-stomach-hurts days. maybe between the cracks from the tension, you found some light, some answers, solutions.

maybe home isn’t a house. maybe home is all the collective experiences of your heart.

that’s right! another hand pie recipe because you know by now that they’re my absolute favorite! this time, i’ve created something that’s perfect for the season. and, it’s perfect for me. because while i like pumpkin pie, i hate to say that i’m just not pumpkin pie’s #1 fan. something about the texture just doesn’t put it wayyy up there in pies for me. enter, sweet potato pie. with a baked consistency of almost mashed potatoes, everything is just perfect for me! the balance of sweetness with all the spices make this one irresistible.

if you don’t want to go through the hassle of making them into houses, you can cut them out into any shape you’d like! circles, squares, folded over empanada-style, it all works! and most importantly, they’ll taste amazing no matter what shape!

about 14 3-inch hand pies

for pie dough
2 1/2 c (315g) all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground all spice
1 tb granulated sugar
pinch salt
1 c (2 sticks, 227g) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
8 tbs ice water (about 1/2 c)

for the sweet potato filling
1/2 lb or 1 sweet potato (makes about 3/4- 1c mashed)
1/4 c (4 tb) unsalted butter, room temp, softened
1/2 c light or dark brown sugar, packed
3 tb heavy cream
1 large egg
1 tb all purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground all spice
pinch ground ginger
pinch sea salt

egg wash + topping
1 egg
1 tb milk or water
turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top


make the pie dough at least 1 hour ahead of time. i usually make this a day before i need it.
in a large bowl, combine flour, spices, salt, and very cold butter, lightly toss everything around with your hands to coat the butter with flour. then, start flattening and breaking up the pieces of butter in your hands, between your thumbs and forefingers. you want to end up with some bigger flat pieces of butter, and other smaller varied pea sized pieces all throughout the flour. work quickly because you want everything to stay cold.

add the ice water a couple tablespoons at a time. toss around lightly with a spoon to hydrate the flour and fully combine. dough should hold together when squeezed but not be overly wet or sticky. you can knead the dough to bring everything together but DO NOT over-knead it or your crust will be tough. knead about 5 times max. alternatively, you can use a bench scraper to fold and lightly knead the dough into itself. form one big clump of dough, divide into two equal pieces. form a 1 inch flat disc with each piece and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. store in the fridge right away for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.

prepare the filling. this can be made the day of or, to save some time, one day before needed.
in a small to medium saucepan, fill with water and place the sweet potato in. bring to a boil and boil sweet potato for about 30 minutes, until very soft. drain hot water and fill pot with cold tap water. when potato is cool enough to handle, peel and roughly dice it.
working by hand with a whisk in a large bowl or using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the sweet potato until mashed and creamy. then, add the rest of the filling ingredients in and beat until fully incorporated, creamy, and smooth. if using a stand mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is mixed well.
cover filling with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator.

roll out the dough. take one disc of dough out of the fridge and let sit on counter for 5-10 minutes. flour work surface and rolling pin well. dust a little flour on top of the disc and start gently flattening it into a circle with the rolling pin, picking the dough up and turning (rotate) it on the surface every couple rolls. when disc is slightly flattened, start gently rolling out until it is about 1/8 inch thick. with a 3 inch cookie cutter (shape of choice), cut out as many pieces as possible, placing them onto a plate or baking pan. chill in refrigerator. gather the scraps and fold them on top of on another. flour and roll out again, and repeat the cutouts. only re-roll pie dough once.

repeat with second disc of dough. if you are making intricate details for houses or anything else, use the re-rolled dough from the second disc and chill detail cutouts as well.

preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

assemble hand pies. for half of the pie cut outs, create some kind of vent (this will be for the piece that goes on top). you can make heart shaped cutouts, x’s with a small knife, ‘windows’, or even just a few pokes all over with a fork.
to assemble a hand pie, place about 1 heaping tablespoon of filling onto a plain cut out pie dough. top with the vented pie dough, pressing the edges down slightly. with the prongs of a small fork, crimp all over the edges to seal. repeat with all pieces of dough. i like to place each completed hand pie onto a tray in the refrigerator to chill as i’m assembling them.

in a small bowl, beat the egg with milk or water well.
distribute hand pies evenly on a large baking pan lined with parchment paper, 1 inch apart. thinly brush each pie with egg wash and sprinkle sugar on top.

bake pies for 22-25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.



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