2 9 1/2 INCH PIES, EACH SERVING 6 to 8
For this recipe you will need:
2 unbaked and well chilled pie pastries, used to line 9 1/2 -inch glass pie dishes
To prepare this recipe:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the sweet potato chunks in a single layer in one large or two medium shallow, ceramic baking dish(es). Add the water, dividing it between the two dishes if necessary. The water should be about 1/2 - inch deep; add more if the level is lower than this. Scatter the pieces of cinnamon stick, cloves, pieces of star anise and ginger slices among the sweet potatoes. Cover the baking dishes securely with aluminum foil and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are very tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove the potatoes from the dishes and force them through a ricer, food mill, or sieve. Let cool. Strain the baking liquid, discarding the solids, and measure. You want about 1/2 cup of liquid; if you have less, add enough fresh water to make 1/2 cup; if you have more, simmer the liquid in a small saucepan on the stove over high heat until it is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Let the liquid cool. (The pumpkin, sweet potato and spiced liquid can all be prepared up to 3 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Bring each to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe. Each of these elements can also be frozen for up to 5 months (thaw overnight in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature).
2. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin and sweet potato purees and stir to blend well. Beat in the eggs, then stir in the melted butter and reserved spice liquid. In a separate bowl, stir together the granulated and brown sugars with a wire whisk. Sift the flour and salt over the sugars and stir to blend. Add the sugar-flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir well until there are no pockets of sugar visible. Blend in the coconut milk.
3. Scrape the filling into the two chilled pie shells, dividing it evenly and smoothing the tops. Place the pies in the lower half of the preheated oven and bake for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, turning the pies several times so they bake evenly. The point of a thin-bladed knife should come out clean when inserted into the center of the filling, and the surface should be unevenly cracked. If the edges of the pastry seem to be darkening too much before the filling is cooked, cover them with strips of aluminum foil. Transfer the pies to wire racks and cool completely before serving with mounds of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Each pie would serve 6 to 8 people if everyone wants only one piece. This is unlikely.