In 1904, the founder of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc., Mary McLeod Bethune, used this recipe to make the sweet potato pies that she sold to keep her Florida girls' school open. The recipe appears in Celebrating Our Mothers' Kitchens by the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. (Tradery House, an imprint of the Wimmer Companies, Inc., 1994).
1 c. margarine or butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
9 medium sweet potatoes or yams, baked, peeled, and mashed
3 eggs, beaten
2 c. milk
1 T. vanilla
2 unbaked 9-inch pastry shells
Combine margarine, sugars, salt, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl; beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add sweet potatoes, and beat until smooth. Add eggs, beat until blended. Gradually add milk and vanilla, beating well.
Pour filling into pastry shells, dividing amount evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until set. Cool completely on wire racks.
Note: Mary McLeod Bethune made three pies with this recipe instead of two. We divided the mixture between two unbaked pastry shells for thicker pies.
From the March 1996 issue.