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Spiced Sweet Potato Pie

H A P P Y  (almost) T H A N K S G I V I N G ! ! !

I know we are all deeply submerged in the throws of chunky sweaters, cuuuuute boots, and pumpkin ERRYTHANG. But I would like to take a brief pause to call our attention to another wonderful, under-appreciated fruit of fall: the sweet potato. Most specifically, when it is used in pie. Maybe you are already a member of team sweet potato pie (welcome, friend, glad to have you). Or you have arrived here thinking ‘wait, what? this sounds weird. can we stick to pumpkin? pumpkin is normal. pumpkin is expected. PSLs rule my world. just give me pumpkin pie.’ But let me give you one reason to venture to the good side: black people eat sweet potato pie. And you know that our food is factually the best food. I’m not 100% sure on why, though I do think it has something to do with the resourcefulness, resilience, and rebounding joy we’ve had to keep up in the face of setback after setback in our history with this nation. But either way, our food is dope, and everybody knows it. So trust that this soul food staple will only enhance your thanksgiving spread this year.

spiced sweet potato pie 2
To write this recipe, I drew a lot of inspiration from Joy the Baker’s Dad’s Sweet Potato Pie, which is a really tasty, custardy, crowd-pleasing pie. But it dawned on me how good sweet potatoes are when cooked with Indian spices usually found in chai or garam masala. So tha’s what I added here! It’s not your standard sweet potato pie (don’t get me wrong, standard sweet potato pie is a really, really good thing). But the crowds I fed it to (my small handful of friends, I’m not that popular) were all well pleased by it. Plus, to my great delight, it passed the black test. Official reviews ranged from “OMG” to “It tastes like fall is dancing in my mouth.” Safe to say, this pie’s a winner. Like all good things, it has a little kick and a little sweet to it. Enjoy!



1 prepared pie crust

2 large sweet potatoes (about 1 lb)

12 oz can evaporated milk

2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup butter

1 TB vanilla extract

1 1/2 t cinnamon

1 1/2 t ginger

1/2 t coriander

1/2 t nutmeg

3/4 t pepper

3/4 t cloves

1 tsp cardamom



  1. Preheat your oven to 375°. Roll out your pie crust, shape it in your pie pan, and pop it in the freezer.*
  2. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1″ to 2″ chunks. Place in a large pot of water, and bring to boil, cooking until the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork (15-ish minutes).
  3. In the meantime, whisk the eggs with about a quarter of the brown sugar, and about a quarter of the evaporated milk in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. When the potatoes are cooked, drain completely and place back in the pot, along with the remaining brown sugar and milk, vanilla, and all spices. Let simmer over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the mixture is super fragrant. Remove from heat, and use an immersion blender to puree the sweet potato mixture.
  5. Slowly add a little bit of sweet potato puree to your egg mixture, constantly whisking everything together. (This is called tempering your eggs, where you gradually warm the eggs so they don’t cook like scrambled eggs in your finished custard.) Add enough puree to make the eggs pretty warm (it usually takes 1/3 to a 1/2 of the hot mixture).
  6. At this point, I like to give the whole mixture one more go with the immersion blender, so I can make sure it is all really smooth before pouring it into my chilled pie crust.
  7. Bake on a baking sheet at 375° for 30 minutes, then rotate the pie, reduce the oven temperature to 325° for 15 minutes, then check for doneness every 5 minutes. The pie is done when you tap the baking sheet, and it only has a slight wiggle in the very center, but is set every where else. Allow the pie to cool and finish setting before slicing and serving. It will keep in the fridge, wrapped, for a few days.


* Some pie crust tips: I love King Arthur Flour’s classic pie crust recipe, which uses a combination of shortening and butter. I find it really easy to work with for making braids and other intricate lattice patterns. Make the crust using your fingers to work in the shortening, and then the butter, so you can really control how much you break the butter down (which is important for a perfect, flaky crust). I usually roll out my crust, assemble and attach my braided edge, and then freeze it for at least half an hour before pouring the prepared filling in to bake it. This helps the crust keep its shape while baking.

PS If you’d like to read my more articulate feelings on why I <3 making sweet potato pie, check out my post on the Brookville Restaurant blog from a few years ago!

PPS This piece by Rembert Browne on Bon Appetit about Black Thanksgiving made me laugh and happy sigh the whole way through. 

I’m moving to Richmond!!

Yes. I’m moving to Richmond. It’s official. I’m excited. You’re wondering whatsup with Arley Cakes? I’m telling you.


  • I’m moving the first of June, so custom orders (birthday cakes, parties, etc) will suspend then. In the meantime, orders for May will be limited.
  • I will fulfill wedding contracts through the remainder of the year.
  • The cookie of the month club will continue through the end of the year. So if you aren’t ready to say goodbye, you can sign up here for fresh baked cookies delivered monthly!

In a more long-term view, I’m going to take a break from the cookie hustle when I move to Richmond, and won’t be pursuing baking work on my own account. Before you say “It was good while it lasted!”, “Sometimes god closes a door.”, “Well, at least you can look back on this fun season of your life.”–please understand this does not mark the end of “Arley Cakes”. I am mostly taking a step back to think strategically about how to move the business forward in a way that meets the social goals that are so important to me, while being a profitable venture, and not aging me at an alarmingly fast rate (you guys, my back is always killing me). I’ve modeled the business in a way that allows me to be flexible, so that I can adapt while learning more about all of the things it takes to run a business. Having the opportunity to pause and reflect is something that I’m really grateful for. My hope is that, after this break, I will be able to move forward with a business model that looks a lot closer to its final iteration. In the meantime, I will do the things that I love surrounding baking and serving people, and hopefully see what sticks.

I don’t think I can express how deep my gratitude is for all the support and love Charlottesville has shown me, over the past 10 years, but especially the past 2 years of this business venture. I have had many champions behind me, without whom I wouldn’t be able to so boldly pursue my passions. In particular, Jen and Harrison of Keevil & Keevil for giving me a platform to grow, the Community Investment Collaborative for giving me the tools to grow, and my good friends for giving me room to grow (particularly Amy, Caitlyn, and John, for dealing with my mess/design/website/constant questions). And the countless people I have gotten to know through business and life in Charlottesville, that have advocated for me, thank you. I love you all so much. And as excited as I am about these next chapters in my life, I’M GONNA MISS YOU.






Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

160926_0068_anthro-arley-breakfast_006Photos by Amy Jackson Photography. Dishes from Anthropologie.

Do you like to think of yourself as a hip lady who doesn’t just give in to silly little trends that are way way overdone? Me too. But are you also a lady that loves to drink yummy drinks, do cozy things, and has a seriously bad caffeine addiction? ME TOO. This fall, you may find yourself holding back from daily PSL runs to Starbucks for two reasons: you are too embarrassed* or you are too poor**. I’m here for you. This pumpkin spice syrup is super easy to make, it has reeeeeeal pumpkin in it, and Amy even liked it a little and she hates coffee. Mix ~2 tablespoons into your morning coffee for a treat that tastes naturally sweet, but not too sweet, with the perfect amount of pumpkin & spices.

*don’t be embarrassed, girl, you do you.
**if you have a daily $10 coffee fund, please dm me so we can talk about investing just a few of your beaucoup bucks towards a good cause, aka arley cakes.



3/4 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  2. Allow syrup to come to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Strain syrup through a fine metal sieve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge (like a pint sized mason jar, if you’re really tryna be cute).
  4. Mix ~2 tablespoons into your morning coffee or latte, and give yourself a high five. You’re winning fall.

Strawberry + Mint Tart and a feature in The Cville!

Photo: Amy Jackson. Styling: Caitlyn Anderson.

Photo: Amy Jackson. Styling: Caitlyn Anderson.

THE BERRIES ARE COMING!!!!!! And so is summer!

This strawberry, mint, and cream cheese tart is the perfect simple, summer treat. It’s refreshing and light, and aside from the crust, it is incredibly quick to pull together. Plus, arranging strawberries in that flower shape is a lot easier than it looks (just start from the outside and work your way in). So you can wow your friends and fam with beautiful deliciousness for minimal effort, which is my kind of dessert, amiright?

Strawberry mint tart slice

Photo by Amy Jackson. Styled by Caitlyn Anderson. Props by Anthropologie.

Check out Cville’s Knife and Fork for the recipe, along with some silly answers for a few questions, as they decided to start interviewing weirdos like me. (Charlottesville folks, peep for a copy of the magazine in local grocery stores and markets in the most recent issue of the Knife & Fork magazine!!)


Photos: Amy Jackson Photography

Styling: Caitlyn Anderson



Mixed Berry + Red Wine + Black Pepper Pie


Snow day baking really is the best: it always pushes me to try new things, since I have all the time in the world, and only the ingredients are in my pantry. One Monday morning, I found myself trapped at home in the snow, but needing to pull together a pie for a shoot with Amy Jackson for the Cville Weekly (still so cool I get to say that ! ). I had no fresh fruit in the house, but as always, I had a bottle of red wine at the ready, and a bunch of berries buried in our freezer, that were probably originally supposed to go into a healthy smoothie or something. I think they found a better fate in this pie.

For the crust:

2 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons sugar

1 cup cold butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes

¼ cup water

¼ cup vodka

  1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Add butter, mix with a paddle attachment until mixture resembles coarse sand.
  3. Mix in water and vodka until the dough just begins to come together. Divide in half, and quickly knead together by hand to form two discs.
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap for at least one hour.

For the filling:

5 cups berries

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons wine

1/3 cup flour

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 egg

White sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Combine flour mixture and berries. Add wine and vanilla.
  4. Roll both pie crusts out to a 10” circle.
  5. Place one crust in a 9” pie pan, trimming the edges.
  6. Cut second disc into ¾ inch strips for the lattice.
  7. Place filling in pie dish. Arrange lattice strips on top, folding over the edges of the bottom crust for a clean look.
  8. Whisk egg, and brush on top of pie crust. Sprinkle with sugar.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 325 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling in the center, and the pie crust is nicely browned.

Mini brown-butter + pistachio donuts

pictured here with apple-butter cinnamon sugar donuts

These donuts were a product of the 2-foot blizzard of January 2016, and the weekend of snow-day baking that naturally ensued. However, I highly recommend that you don’t wait for an excuse to make them. Get your life.

This recipe is long, and might be intimidating, but really, it’s four general steps: make a yeasted donut batter & let it rise, brown the butter, fry the donuts, make the glaze. It’ll be worth it, I pinky promise.

Mini brown-butter + pistachio donuts

Makes ~one dozen mini donuts


½ cup warm milk

1 ¼ teaspoons yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg

3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

½ teaspoon salt

2 ¼ cup flour


½ cup butter

1 ½ cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons milk


Salted pistachios, roughly chopped

Make the donut batter, and let it rise.

  1. Whisk yeast and sugar into warm milk, let sit for 10 minutes. It will begin to foam, while the yeast wakes up.
  2. Whisk egg and add to yeast mixture, along with butter and salt.
  3. Slowly add in flour, starting with a whisk, gradually kneading the flour in with your hands when it becomes too thick to stir.
  4. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until the dough begins to push back while you are shaping it, moving as if it is alive. (spoooooky, scary!)
  5. Cover the dough in a greased bowl, and allow it to rise for an hour or so, until it is doubled in size. This will happen easiest in a fairly warm environment.

Brown the butter.

  1. Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat. To get it brown, cook for about 5-7 minutes, constantly swirling the butter. As the butter begins to burn on the bottom, be sure to keep stirring to keep it from browning unevenly. When the butter has browned, and has a nice nutty aroma, set aside.

Fry the donuts.

  1. Heat a deep fryer to 350 degrees. (Or heat vegetable oil in a deep pan, using a candy thermometer).
  2. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to ½ inch thickness. Use a donut cutter to cut out donuts. Gather scraps to roll out again and cut more donuts. Repeat the process until no dough remains.
  3. Fry a few donuts at a time for 5-6 minutes, flipping halfway through. If you allow the oil to get too hot, you’ll burn the outside and have a gooey inside. If the donuts are cooking too fast on the outside, adjust the heat as necessary.
  4. Allow the donuts to cool for a moment, as you continue the glaze. Lay them on paper towel, to absorb some of the oil.

Make the glaze.

  1. Add the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and milk to the pan of browned butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until it is just about to boil.
  2. Dip each donut in the glaze. After the glaze has cooled a touch, pour more glaze over each donut.
  3. Sprinkle donuts with pistachios (quick! Before the glaze cools and hardens.)
  4. Serve to your friends, post a gram for your enemies. <3

On Sweet Potato Pie


Happy Fπiday! I wrote a blog post about baking at Brookville over on their website. Sure, it’s about pie, but it’s also about two of my other favorite things: being black + feelings. So next time you’re looking to get a little sappy about butter, give it a read!




Sweet Potato Pie slice



here are 5 of my favorite things i got to bake this last year!

chocolate matcha cupcakes

chocolate cupcakes + matcha frosting + fresh berries

one night, after a long day at work, i had a very overwhelming shopping experience at whole foods that ended with a tin of matcha in my pantry. i love the green tea flavor on its own, and it also makes some very interesting flavor combinations. these cupcakes were the perfect balance of rich, light, sweet, and savory.

grape cobbler

grape + sage + rose cobbler

years ago, a good friend of mine passed along her grams cobbler recipe. it’s unlike any cobbler i’ve ever had before. there are 4 steps, and the first one is “melt a stick of butter, dump it in the pan.” so i had a solid foundation to build on. coming across muscadine grapes in my neighborhood’s grocery store, i decided to experiment with an unexpected baking fruit. my studies conclude: we should bake with grapes more.

oatmeal creme pies

bourbon oatmeal cream pies + salted brown butter buttercream

i love these little guys with my whole heart. remember those little creme pies we used to eat as kids, but now, years later, you have two bites, and you feel like it could definitely lead to a diabetic episode? these cookies have come to the rescue. and they are better than anything i ever dreamed of as a child. and i’m not being over dramatic.

bourbon pecan pie

SPOILER ALERT!!!! i love baking with bourbon. the flavor melts in my mouth and warms my belly. this is one of the thanksgiving pies i made this year, and it holds a special place in my heart. the pecans are sourced from koinonia farm, and with all of the thanksgiving orders, i was able to make my first mini-hire (a girl i’ve been mentoring in charlottesville for the last 6 years). plus, this pie tastes really really really good. it was a win-win-win.

(photo by ashley cox, styled by mallory joyce)


vanilla almond cake + salted caramel buttercream + marzipan succulents

fondant, you’re gross, and everybody knows it. i bet you know it, too, you’re just too pleased with your power position in the cake decorating world to admit your weakness. well i won’t fall for it anymore. team marzipan, all day, erryday. topped on a light cake with a sweet-salty buttercream, team marzipan can’t lose. this birthday treat was my favorite decoration i got to do all year. (plus it was ordered for a truly rad lady boss, commonly known as the queen of succulents, ms. della at cville blooms.)


2015 was experimental, artistic, delicious, and straight up exciting. i hope your new years resolution is EAT MORE CAKE, and that we make them arley cakes. cheers to 2016!

Let's talk cake.

If you'd like to get in touch with me to talk cake, cheese, or your best dad jokes, write me a note below! * * (PLEASE NOTE: I have relocated to Richmond, and am currently not taking new orders. But if you'd like to stay up to date on what my next move is, shoot me an email below, and I'll add you to my emailing list. Cheers!)