When co-organizers of the Comic Arts Los Angeles Festival, cartoonist Jen Wang and Jake Mumm, first heard the Good Food Pie Contest promo on KCRW in 2011, it sounded like a fun excuse to get creative and experiment in the kitchen. The pair baked pies together on occasion and thought this would be a chance to up their pie game.
Being involved with Slow Food LA, they loved that the Good Food Pie Contest was open to anyone, bringing together the entire community, regardless of baking credentials. And depending on one’s palate, there were multiple categories to choose from: Best in Show, Fruit, Nut, Cream, Savory and even LACMA’s Tim Burton-inspired (a nod to the museum’s exhibition featuring the filmmaker and his work) category.
Admittedly more drawn to savory than sweet, the pair began brainstorming and decided to try their hands at a Savory Sweet Potato Pie. But the question was: How to take it to the next level? As they tried different ingredient pairings, they finally arrived at their winning combination: layering chunks of sweet potatoes with crisped bacon and candied pecans, resulting in just the right mixture of sweet and savory with a touch of added crunch. Our judges agreed, awarding Jen and Jake second place at the Good Food Pie Contest that year.
But not to cut a pie story short, Jen and Jake also entered a total of three pies the following year, bringing home yet another win. This time, for their sweet Taro Pie, in addition to a Thai peanut butter cream pie and a savory Scandinavian-inspired fish pie. Though the fish pie was decidedly their favorite, the contest judges were huge fans of the pair’s Taro Pie, awarding it second place in the contest’s Creative category. Inspired by LACMA’s Metropolis II exhibition theme that year, the baking duo envisioned their Taro Pie as a highway being driven by black sesame sedans.When asked how they arrived at their creation, Jen remarked that taro is commonly used in Asian desserts, but that she’d never seen it used as sweet pie filling, so they decided to put it to the test. Clearly, it more than passed.
Below, Jen Wang and Jake Mumm have shared their delicious Savory Sweet Potato Pie with Bacon and Candied Pecans recipe with us! Give it a try and maybe you’ll find yourself inspired to enter this year’s 7th Annual Good Food Pie Contest. We hope so!
Savory Sweet Potato Pie with Bacon & Candied Pecans
By Jen Wang and Jake Mumm
Candied pecans (can be made ahead)
1 large egg white
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 cups pecan halves
1¼ cup all-purpose flour
8 tbsp butter (chilled in freezer)
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup sour cream
¼ ice cold water
2 tsp minced fresh sage (optional)
6 strips of bacon, cut into small ½-inch slices
1 red onion, sliced thinly
4 sweet potatoes
1 tsp parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh thyme (optional)
Preheat oven to 300°F and lightly grease a baking sheet with butter.
For the Pecans: Separate egg white and yolk (reserve yolk for brushing on crust later). Whisk egg white in bowl until foamy. Add sugar, spices and salt. Continue mixing until thickened, then add pecans and stir until evenly coated. Spread pecans on baking sheet and space evenly. Bake pecans until they turn a deep golden brown, about 25 minutes.
For the Crust: Chill butter in the freezer until COLD, about 30 minutes to an hour. Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and mix well into flour mixture with fingers until dough resembles course meal.
Next, stir sour cream and cold ice water together. Pour liquid and minced fresh sage into dough mixture. Mix and knead well until dough can be loosely formed into a ball. Add more water if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
For the Filling: Set oven to 395°F. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Toss sweet potatoes with 2-tbsp of olive oil and arrange evenly on baking sheet. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 40 minutes or until roasted brown. Toss halfway through to ensure that all sides roast evenly. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Cook bacon in olive oil on medium heat until browned but not crisp. Remove from pan and allow to dry on paper towel. Cook onions in remaining bacon fat until soft. Right before onions caramelize, stir in sugar and balsamic vinegar. Continue cooking onions until slices are thin and dark.
Assembling the Pie: Roll out crust and lay out in a 9-inch baking dish. Place potatoes in small bowl and toss lightly with grated Parmesan cheese. Mash lightly. Spread caramelized onions evenly across bottom layer of crust. Sprinkle half of bacon and crumbled candied pecans over onion layer. Next, spread sweet potatoes into a thick chunky layer above.
Fold crust over mixture. Whisk one egg yolk with 1-tsp of water and brush egg wash over crust. Bake pie in oven for 30 minutes until top of crust starts to brown. Once done, remove from heat and sprinkle remaining bacon and candied pecans on top of potato layer, avoiding the crust.
Bake for additional 10–15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove and cool on rack. Garnish with fresh thyme before serving.