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A Sweet Potato Pie Recipe from the White House, circa 1913

thanksgiving dessertsI found a 1913 copy of The White House Cookbook a year or so ago for under a dollar at a garage sale. I love old cookbooks – their comforting old book smell, the way recipes are presented, without pretension (and largely without measurements or pan sizes or oven temperatures) with descriptions like “butter with nicety” (in reference to greasing up your waffle iron). The book contains menus for Mrs. Cleveland’s wedding lunch and General Grant’s birthday dinner; seating charts and etiquette tips and advice on how to clean marble busts and fix squeaky doors. And it will come in handy if you feel like cooking up some snipe on toast. (Which, by the way, cooks in the same manner as woodcock, but more quickly.)

What better source, I ask you, for a sweet potato pie recipe?

thanksgiving desserts, pie recipe

I must show you the recipes themselves. Aren’t they charming? This was a good and simple pie, albeit rich. It’s alarmingly orange when you’re used to a more rust-colored pumpkin pie. I resisted the urge to add cinnamon and simply grated in some nutmeg as per the recommendation, and am glad to have followed direction nutmeg is almost always added along with cinnamon, allspice and cloves, and rarely given the opportunity to stand on its own. And – two cups of sugar seemed like a lot. I used a cup and a half, assuming that their non-standardized teacups were closer to 3/4 cup than a full cup. I actually enjoyed this, which says a lot coming from a notorious pumpkin pie-hater.

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