Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) pie
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5). Roll out the dough and place in a greased pie pan. Flute the edges as desired. Or if using nut or cookie crust, prepare the crust and press into the pan. Refrigerate until he filling is ready.
Blend the sweet potatoes, brown sugar, spices, salt, oil, vanilla, and rum in a food processor or in a blender until well incorporated. Add the milk a little at a time and blend until the filling is smooth.
Pour the filling into the crust, leaving ¼ inch (6 mm) of space to the crust edge. Decorate with the pecan halves. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 325°F (170°C, or gas mark 3) and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is golden and slightly cracked, a cake tester comes out clean, and the pie is no longer wobbly. (If using a pastry crust, be sure to check after about 40 minutes and add a crust guard if the edges are browning too quickly.) Refrigerate the pie for at least 4 hours before slicing.
Basic, Single-Crust Pastry
This basic recipe is the very foundation of most pies. After you make this a few times, you won’t even need to consult this cookbook.
Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) crust
In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Dice margarine and shortening and add to the flour, tossing very well so each piece is covered with flour.
Using a pastry blender, blend the flour and fats, with the aim of handling the dough as little as possible. When the bits are about pea size, start adding water 1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time, sprinkling evenly onto the dough.
Use your hands to toss and gently work, again avoiding manipulating the flour as much as possible. (You want to keep the shortening bits intact for a flakier crust). Repeat until the dough just holds together. If the dough feels wet, you have added too much water. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Roll out as desired. (If leaving dough overnight, give it about 30 minutes to warm up at room temperature before rolling.)
Excerpted from Pies and Tarts with Heart by Dynise Balcavage; Quarry Books, 2013