Crispy and flaky, with a smooth, silky filling, Japanese Sweet Potato Pie is my all-time favorite Japanese pastry. Best enjoyed with a cup of coffee or black tea, this sweet potato pie is light, but rich, making it the perfect afternoon indulgence.
When I go back to Japan, I always enjoy going to bakeries with my mom. We love browsing through the tantalizing displays and picking up different kinds of fresh bread and pastry for our breakfast the next day. It’s hard to make a choice, but some of my all-time favorites include Melon Pan, Anpan, Yakisoba Pan, and Korokke Pan which I’ve shared the recipes with you. Today I’m sharing another favorite of mine – Japanese Sweet Potato Pie (スイートポテトパイ).
What’s Japanese Sweet Potato Pie?
Japanese Sweet Potato Pie has been a classic pastry in Japan. You can find them at corner mom-and-pop shops to trendy pastry shops. To make this classic pie, Japanese sweet potato is cooked until fork tender, mashed and combined with butter, heavy cream and whisk until silky smooth. Then the mixture is folded into layers of puff pastry sheets and baked until crispy gold. The flaky exterior crackles when you bite into it, giving way to the rich creamy interior of sweet potato filling. It is wonderful with tea or coffee.
Japanese Sweet Potato – Satsumaimo
Originating in South or Central America, Japanese sweet potato or satsumaimo (さつまいも) in Japanese were first introduced to Japan in Okinawa (the old Ryukyu Islands) in the early 17th century by the Chinese. Then, satsumaimo was introduced to the Kyushu island, which makes up the majority of satsumaimo production in Japan.
Satsumaimo have a purple-ish red skin and pale, cream color flesh. They are high in antioxidants and healthier than regular potato. Holding a special place in Japanese culture and history, the Japanese sweet potato is one of the beloved ingredients by pastry chefs in Japan. You can find sweet potatoes being used in many Japanese desserts, both western and Japanese-styles, from pies, cookies, cakes, soft-serve ice-creams, tarts, sweet bread, Daigakuimo to every pastry imaginable.
Puff Pastry Sheet – Convenient Freezer Essential
Making the perfect sweet potato pie at home is not an impossible feat, but it does take some time if you want to make the pie crust from scratch. A quick solution is to use a puff pastry sheet. You essentially thaw it, roll it out, fill it and bake it.
I often keep a box of frozen puff pastry in my freezer. It is something of an essential for easy appetizers or dessert-making. If you’ve ever baked with it, you know what I’m talking about. You can quickly pull off the most basic recipe and turn it into something flaky, buttery, elegant and crowd-pleasing snacks.
Perfectly flaky, these warm and golden Japanese Sweet Potato Pies are a lovely treat for an afternoon snack or for serving a crowd on a weekend brunch. The recipe that I share yields two pies, but if you want to make one pie (serves 2-4 people), just use half of the ingredients portion I listed below. Enjoy!
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Sweet Potato Pie
- 1 lb Japanese sweet potato (Satsumaimo)
- 2 frozen puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm puffy pastry sheet and each box comes with 2 square sheets)
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 large egg yolk (for filling)
- 2 Tbsp heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 large egg (50 g w/o shell) (for pie)
- 1 tsp toasted black sesame seeds
- Gather all the ingredients. Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). For a convection oven, reduce cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC). Place 1 sheet of pastry on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Put another pastry sheet on a different sheet of parchment paper. Defrost for 10 minutes at room temperature.
- Cut the pastry sheets in half with a scissor. Now you have 4 rectangular sheets. Then make several slits on 2 sheets that will go on top of the pie.
- Peel the sweet potato and cut it in half lengthwise. Then cut into smaller chunks so they will cook faster.
- In a pot, put sweet potato and cover it with water. Bring it to a boil and cook until a skewer goes through the potatoes smoothly, about 12-15 minutes. Drain water completely and transfer to a large bowl.
- Use a potato masher or fork to mash the sweet potato. Add sugar and butter and keep mixing.
- Add egg yolk and heavy whipping cream and mix well.
- Now you put the sweet potato mixture on the bottom sheets. Keep about half inch space around the rim. Then cover with the top sheet.
- Use a fork to pinch the edges.
- Beat the egg in a small bowl and brush the top of the pastry so it will turn nice golden brown. Sprinkle black sesame seeds on top.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool a bit and ready to serve in 10 minutes.
- You can freeze the baked and cooled pies. Wrap them in aluminum foil and put them in a freezer bag. To serve, reheat the pie at 350ºF (180ºC) for 10-15 minutes, until crisp and flaky.
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on January 17, 2011. The post has been updated with new images and revised recipe.