Success! I’m happy to report that the sweet potato pie was a big hit. Everybody raved about it including my Aunt, who doesn’t really like sweet potatoes, but tried it anyway. Although, I did have some initial doubts while I was making it: the potatoes seemed lumpy, the filling was bright orange, and crust looked like it was browning a little too quickly. But overall, the pie was wonderful. The filling tasted great. It was wonderfully fresh, and much better than anything you could buy at a store, and it actually tasted like sweet potato and not pumpkin. I would definitely make this again. Also this was the first time I’d ever baked in a glass pie plate, and I have to say, I’m impressed. It really did a great job of evenly heating the crust, and made it easier to see how thoroughly the crust was baking. I highly recommend getting a glass pie plate for your next pie adventure!
November 30, 2009
November 25, 2009
By Guest Blogger Hilary Morris, Founder of Mrs Mo’s New Jersey Website
When I found out that Chef Duff Goldman, star of the Food Network hit show, Ace of Cakes, was coming to the Princeton Kitchen Kapers for a book signing of his new book Ace of Cakes: Inside the World of Charm City Cakes, I leapt at the opportunity to 1) set up another “TweetUp” for fans in the area and 2) reach out to Kitchen Kapers to set up a photo opp with the man himself. Kitchen Kapers then connected me with Duff’s book publicist at Harper Collins and then a week later, I was standing in my kitchen talking to Duff on the phone discovering just how genuine, funny, down-to-earth and wacky he really is! He’s also someone who has remained humbled even with the success of the show. Duff still sees himself as just a cake decorator who loves the crazy uniqueness of Baltimore, likes to play in a band and gets to work with his best friends and family.
Here are some more highlights from my chat with Duff:
“An invitation to come and hang out with us for 230 pages.”
When Duff created his book, he wanted to “make sure there was a lot of care and effort into this book. It was a huge labor of love.” He also wanted readers to see that he and his staff are all just a bunch of “goofy art school kids who never ever thought about being on TV.” While they try not to take the reality TV stardom seriously, they don’t mess around with their cakes. You’ll see from the book that the masterpieces that are Charm City Cakes are the result of smart business savvy and silly and fun creativity.
“Whoa what happened!”
The television show was quite a surprise for Duff and his staff but they have been very successful at keeping it real for the fans of the show. When I asked if he had to change any of the way he conducts business for the show he let out a strong laugh saying, “The Food Network found out very quickly that any attempt to push us in one direction, we’d go the opposite.” So what you see on Ace of Cakes is really how they are in life and career.
“The truth is stranger than fiction”
My conversation with Duff was filled with hilarious, entertaining and “Duff-like” anecdotes like one that involved 20 terracotta warrior masks. Duff made a cake for the opening of a terracotta warrior exhibit for National Geographic and the President gave him 20 of these warrior masks that he took back the staff. For about an hour that day, they wore the masks while they worked. “You can’t make this stuff up,” chuckled Duff. “Our show is obviously not produced.” And that’s why it’s such a breathe of fresh air.
“I’m not a teacher, not a firefighter, not a doctor. I’m just a cake decorator.”
At the end of our brief yet fun chat, I asked Duff of all of the celebrities he made cakes for, who impressed him the most? His answer: Steve Carell of The Office. His reasoning was very similar to how I felt at the moment about Duff. He commented that when he made a cake for the Get Smart movie, he found Carell to be a genuine and down-to-earth guy who just saw himself as a “goofy guy who made a movie” and didn’t understanding how fans could get so intense around him. And Duff said the same about when fans get crazy about him and that there are plenty other people who are more important than he is because in his own words, “he’s just a cake decorator.”
One thing is for sure, Duff may think he’s just a cake decorator, but he’s also an inspiration for anyone who would love to design cakes or start their own bakery and do it their own way.
Get inspired by Duff in person when he comes to Central and South Jersey on December 4th for his book-signing event with Kitchen Kapers. At 2:30pm he’ll be at the Princeton/Palmer Square location and then at 6pm he’ll be in Moorestown at the East Gate Square. Click here for more details.
I am also hosting a TweetUp at the event for anyone who wants to gather with other link minded people, enjoy an afternoon with Duff Goldman and then mix and mingle at happy hour afterwards. RSVP at Twtvite or Facebook.
November 24, 2009
Horror of horrors! I just got off the phone with my Mom and she told me no one is baking a pie for Thanksgiving this year! Since I’m crazy and craving some seriously good sweet potato pie, I’ve decided to take it upon myself to make it. Now, I should warn you. I’ve never made a sweet potato pie. And I’m not going to lie, normally I buy frozen pie crusts, because patience is a virtue I don’t always have, but this year I want the real deal. No substitutions. So I’m going to attempt to make a pie. From scratch. And not just any pie, but the best sweet potato pie ever. I’m not going into this blind by the way. I fully realize that what I’m attempting to do could be considered utter lunacy, seeing as I have exactly 1.5 days to do this, but why not tempt fate, right? So I’ve got my pie plate ready, and as far as the recipe goes, I’m using a friend’s recipe for the pie crust, which I have been forbidden to share. And I’m going to use the filling recipe I found on our website from All Clad. I’ll be sure to post my family’s review of the pie after Thanksgiving. Wish me luck!
Sweet Potato Pie
1 10 inch-prebaked piecrust, or pie crust recipe of your choosing.
2 tablespoons plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 3 cups whole pecans
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup plus 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Half & Half
2 eggs beaten
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
5 tablespoons heavy cream
- Prepare the pre-baked piecrust. Make a praline layer by melting 2 tablespoons of butter in an All-Clad 1.5-quart Saucepan. Add 1/2 cup of pecans and 1/2 cup of brown sugar and cook this mixture for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly. Pour this mixture into the piecrust and spread evenly.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the mashed sweet potatoes, 1/3-cup brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, Half & Half and eggs in a medium size bowl and whisk until well blended.
- Pour this custard mixture over the praline layer and bake for 18 minutes turning the pie once or twice to ensure even cooking.
- In the meantime, prepare the topping by combining 4 tablespoons of butter, corn syrup, heavy cream, 3/4 cup of brown sugar and 3 cups of pecans in an All-Clad 4-quart Saucepan. Simmer this mixture slowly while stirring constantly, approximately 5-7 minutes or until thick and bubbly.
- Remove the pie from the oven; spread the topping mixture evenly over the pie and bake for 12 more minutes until done. Let cool for 1 hour before serving.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.