Dairy free sweet potato pie with coconut milk is not only a perfect dessert for a dairy free Thanksgiving, but also year-round.
This one bowl recipe couldn’t be easier and is more likely to come out picture perfect than most.
Growing up in California and New York, no Thanksgiving was complete without a dairy free pumpkin pie.
However, as an adult, I had a roommate who was a pastry chef and introduced me to sweet potato pie.
Sweet potato pie became popular on Thanksgiving since it became a national holiday during the Civil War.
While the North and South were at war, one thing they could agree on was their love and pride of America.
Since pumpkins were common in the North and not in the South, the South rejected the dessert.
Instead, they made sweet potato pie their holiday dessert.
Sweet potato pie recipes first appeared in printed cookbooks in the 1700s as a savory vegetable dish.
However, in the 1800s, it was more commonly classified as a dessert. Then, it wasn’t long until it was adopted as a popular Thanksgiving.
Blind Baking The Crust
Blind baking is a technique used to help prevent the crust from becoming soggy and has a crisp texture.
How to Blind Bake a crust
- Cover the crust in the pie pan with baking paper or tin foil
- Fill it with pie weights, sugar, beans, or pennies and bake at 375°F or 190°C for 30 minutes
- Remove the filling and bake for another 10 minutes to brown the bottom
DAIRY FREE SWEET POTATO PIE
Like pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie is a custard and requires milk or cream. Clearly, this is not possible when making a dairy free sweet potato pie.
A good dairy free substitute is coconut milk, due to its cream-like consistency. Other milk alternatives are too thin.
Don’t worry though, you cannot taste the coconut at all.
Microwaving The Sweet Potato
To save a lot of time, you can microwave the sweet potato instead of boiling it.
Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly, pat dry, and poke 3 or 4 times with a fork. Then, microwave for 5 minutes.
If your potato isn’t fork tender after 5 minutes, continue microwaving in 30 second increments until done.
WHY USE AN ELECTRIC MIXER
Using an electric mixer will help you get a smoother filling by breaking up the clumps. It also helps catch the little fibrous strings that must be removed through a blending process.
BAKING WITH OIL
Baking with oil produces a moister and tenderer texture compared to that of baked goods made with butter.
Cakes, cupcakes, muffins, and quick breads also tend to bake up taller with a better crumb and stay moist and tender much longer than recipes made with butter.
Also, since oil weighs less than butter, baked goods made with oil have a lighter texture than those made with butter.
In addition, butter is usually only 80% fat, whereas oil is 100% fat. As a result, the water that’s present in butter strengthens the gluten in the flour, making it more dense and less tender than baked goods made with oil.
Oil is often used in recipes where a lighter and airier texture is desired or in recipes that call for both oil and butter, in order to have the benefits of oil while keeping the butter flavor.
Which Type Of Oil to Use
I use neutral oils like canola oil, safflower oil, and vegetable oil. You can also use stronger oils like olive oil and coconut oil, but they may change the taste somewhat.
Is it better to use canola oil or olive oil?
Canola oil is relatively cheap and, due to its lack of flavor and high smoke point, is very versatile.
Olive oil, on the other hand, is healthier. Also, its stronger flavor makes it preferable in recipes such as focaccia, which require its distinct taste.
Baking with Oil Conversion Chart
If you want to convert your butter recipes to oil recipes, take a look at my baking with oil – butter to oil conversion chart.
How to store Oil
Store oils in a cool, dark place to prevent them from becoming rancid.
If refrigerated, some oils, like olive oil, may solidify, but will return to a liquid state at room temperature.
Coconut oil begins to solidify in temperatures under 76ºF or 25ºC.
The primary role of sugar is to be a sweetener. However, sugar also contributes to the tenderness and moistness of the baked good by absorbing and retaining moisture and helps create the golden brown color when baking as it caramelizes.
Recipes with more sugar often result in softer, moister textures. However, I learned the hard way that too much sugar leads to a sticky mess.
When it’s heated, sugar caramelizes, resulting in a rich, complex flavor and a brown color. This adds both flavor and color to baked goods and is also the process in which caramel sauce, dulce de leche, caramel candies, and regular candies are made.
When used in recipes containing yeast, the sugar is eaten by the yeast, producing carbon dioxide and causing the dough to rise.
Sugar also acts as a preservative in jams, jellies, and fruit preserves by reducing water activity and preventing microbial growth.
There are many different types of sugar, including white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, and demerara sugar.
When a recipe calls for “sugar” without specifying anything else, it’s referring to regular white sugar.
White sugar (sometimes called granulated sugar, table sugar, or white granulated sugar) is made of either beet sugar or cane sugar, which has undergone a refining process.
It is the easiest to find and most commonly used.
Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added to it.
It is commonly used in chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it’s rare for a recipe that calls for brown sugar not to also call for white sugar as well.
When a recipe calls for “brown sugar” but doesn’t specify what type (light or dark), it is referring to light brown sugar.
In my recipes, you can use whatever type of brown sugar you have on hand, whether it is dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, or demerara sugar – which is very common in Israel.
Just keep in mind that the flavor and color will be slightly different, depending on what you choose to use.
Turbinado sugar is better known as “raw sugar.” But, despite this name, the sugar is not really “raw.”
Instead, it’s partially refined sugar that retains some of the original molasses.
The term “raw sugar” may also give off the impression that it is somehow healthier.
In reality, turbinado sugar is nutritionally similar to white sugar.
Demerara sugar is very popular in Israel and is especially delicious in tea, but is also used for baking.
Unlike white sugar, demerara sugar undergoes minimal processing and retains some vitamins and minerals.
However, it is still not much healthier than white sugar.
Vanilla sugar is not very common in the States. However, it is common in Israel and parts of Europe.
This is sugar that sat for an extended period of time with vanilla beans, giving it a vanilla flavor.
This type of sugar is common in the United Kingdom.
It has a grain finer than white (granulated) sugar and larger than powdered sugar.
Caster sugar is often called for in recipes for delicate baked goods like meringues, souffles, and sponge cakes.
You can use a 1:1 conversion rate between caster sugar and white (granulated) sugar.
Powdered sugar, sometimes known as confectioners’ sugar, is a sugar with a powdered texture.
This sugar is rarely used for baking. Instead, it is used for dusting desserts and making frosting, icing, and glazes.
In some countries, you can also find powdered vanilla sugar.
It is made the exact same way regular vanilla sugar is made. However, the sugar used is powdered instead of granulated.
Vanilla Extract vs Vanilla sugar
In my recipes, I don’t specify what kind of vanilla to use.
The reason for this is that in the States, vanilla extract is exclusively used.
Meanwhile in Israel, along with many European countries, vanilla sugar is common.
In most, if not all recipes, both vanilla extract and vanilla sugar can be used.
In recipes where vanilla sugar can be used instead of extract, you can replace them 1:1.
Replacing Sugar with Honey
If you’d prefer to use honey instead of sugar, you can do so with pretty good results.
Honey can be two or even three times as sweet depending on the honey, so for every 1 cup of sugar, you can use 1/2 to 2/3 cup honey.
Since honey adds liquid, you need to remove some to balance it out. For every cup of honey, remove a 1/4 cup of liquid.
Also, it burns faster than granulated sugar, so you want to lower the baking temperature by 25 F. In addition, check it early and often to avoid burning or overbaking.
How to Store Sugar
Sugar should be stored in an airtight container to prevent clumping and moisture absorption, and kept in a cool, dry place.
Types of Vanilla
Vanilla comes from a pod commonly known as a “vanilla bean”, which comes from the vanilla orchids.
Vanilla pods have been used for flavoring since the Aztecs and was introduced to Europe by a Spanish conquistador, along with cocoa.
Vanilla extract is created by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol for some time. This is the most commonly used type of vanilla.
Vanilla sugar is common in Europe and some parts of the Middle East, like Israel.
It is made from vanilla beans sitting in sugar, vanilla bean powder mixed with sugar, or sugar mixed with vanilla extract.
In some countries, like Italy, you can also find vanilla powdered sugar, which is used for confections.
Vanilla paste is generally a specialty item. It is a thick paste that contains a blend of the scraped-out vanilla pod seeds and vanilla extract.
You can use it as you do vanilla extract and it will leave flakes of vanilla bean like you see in vanilla bean ice cream.
Imitation Vanilla, otherwise known as artificial vanilla or vanilla essence, is made from synthetic vanilla.
This is the compound that naturally occurs in vanilla beans and gives it its flavor.
Can I use imitation vanilla?
Many will tell you that you should use high quality vanilla, just like they say you should use the best cocoa.
However, most of us will probably not be willing to pay the hefty price that comes with exceptionally high-quality ingredients.
Overall, vanilla is very expensive, so the extract is as well.
So, if you’re not going to get regular quality vanilla extract, you might as well use imitation vanilla.
Can vanilla extract be used as a substitute for vanilla beans?
Yes, vanilla extract can be used as a substitute for vanilla beans. Use about 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for each inch of vanilla bean.
How to Store Vanilla
Pure vanilla extract and other vanilla products should be kept away from heat and light, and should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
DO EGGS NEED TO BE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE?
The short answer is “no.” While a side-by-side comparison shows that baking with eggs at room temperature makes a better crumb, it’s not otherwise noticeable.
What are Eggs used for?
Eggs do three things in most recipes: they help bind the ingredients together, act as a mild leavening agent, and they add moisture.
ARE EGGS DAIRY?
No, eggs are not dairy. Dairy is milk and any food products made from milk, including cheese, cream, butter, and yogurt.
So, while eggs are an animal product, they are not dairy. In fact, eggs fall under the protein food group.
How to tell if your eggs are still good
Fill a glass with cool water and submerge the eggs.
If the eggs sink to the bottom and lay flat on their side, they’re still fresh.
If they sink, but stand on one end at the bottom of the glass, the eggs are not as fresh but still good.
An egg that floats to the top is likely spoiled.
Eggs can be substituted with 1/4 cup of unsweetened apple sauce per egg. This means that for recipes calling for 2 eggs, you’d need 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce.
The reason applesauce makes a good binder is that it’s high in pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring starch in fruits and berries that acts as a thickening agent and stabilizer in food.
This happens when combined with sugar and acid (if the fruit or berry isn’t naturally acidic).
Just keep in mind that it may change the flavor slightly.
Adjusting for a Convection Oven
Convection ovens blow the hot air around, producing around 25 to 30 percent more heat.
Since convection ovens produce more heat, you need either lowering the temperature or shortening the cooking time to compensate.
When recipes specify temperatures and cooking times, it’s for conventional ovens, unless specified otherwise.
A simple rule to follow is to lower the temperature by 25ºF or 14ºC when baking cookies and pies, and 50ºF or 28ºC when roasting meat and poultry. Some convection ovens offer separate settings for baking and for roasting.
You can also leave the temperature the same and instead, shorten the cooking time by 25 percent. For example, if your recipe calls for 60 minutes in the oven, check the food after 45 minutes instead.
However, keep in mind, some convection ovens actually make a heat adjustment for you. That is, if you set a convection oven for 350ºF, it might actually set itself to 325ºF to compensate. So, check your manual before making adjustments.
MAKING AHEAD OF TIME
The filling can be made a day in advance. In fact, doing so allows the flavor of the spices to develop.
Freshly baked sweet potato pie will keep for about 3 to 4 days if covered and refrigerated.
CAN IT BE STORED AT ROOM TEMPERATURE?
No. It has a custard filling, so it needs to be refrigerated.
HOW TO STORE
Let cool to room temperature. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or foil. Refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days.
HOW TO FREEZE
Let cool to room temperature. Wrap in plastic wrap until tightly sealed. Then, wrap in a layer of aluminum foil.
If you do not have plastic wrap and aluminum foil, place it in a resealable freezer bag.
Place on a level freezer shelf and freeze for up to 1 to 2 months. After this, the pie is still safe to eat, but the quality begins to degrade.
When you are ready to defrost the pie, transfer it to the refrigerator. Let thaw for at least 12 hours.