The recipe is from Thomas Jefferson's Cook Book, by Marie Kimball. It was originally published by the University Press of Virginia in 1976 and this is the fourth (1987) printing.
Sweet Potato Pudding No. 1
Boil 1 pound of sweet potatoes until tender. Rub them through a sieve. Add 5 well-beaten eggs, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of butter, the grated rind of 1 lemon, a dash of nutmeg, and a wineglass of brandy. Line a baking dish with pastry and pour in the mixture. Sprinkle with sugar and bits of citron and bake in a slow oven until set. -- Mrs. Mary Randolf.
I believe this Mrs. Mary Randolf is the sister of Thomas Jefferson's son-in-law and she is also a descendent of Pocahontas and John Rolfe. She is famous for her housekeeping and cook book, The Virginia Housewife. This puts her solidly into the Colonial American time period. Sweet potatoes are a New World food and someone from Virginia was likely to know how to cook with it.
I updated the methods by first microwaving the sweet potato until it was tender. Once it was cool, it was easy to peel.
Then I put the sweet potato into my food processor and blended it until it was mushy. After that I added the rest of the ingredients (not the pie crust!) and blended until it was smooth. *Forgive me, History, but I couldn't bring myself to use an entire cup of butter -- I used 1/2 cup, slightly melted.
My "wineglass of brandy" was about 4 ounces.
Once the mixture was poured in the crust, I sprinkled sugar over the top but skipped the citron because I still don't own any.
|Post-oven, still hot|
The smell was heavenly!
Waiting for it to cool enough to eat was challenging.
|Cooled. The cracking looks distinguished, no?|
This "pudding" is marvelous just as it is.
If I were to change anything, I would add less sugar -- perhaps just a cup -- and I made the right decision on the butter.
By the way, don't skip the brandy in this recipe. It brings the flavors to an incredible height and is a natural pairing with the nutmeg.
And yes! The center was cooked all the way through.