The Type Of Dough Patti LaBelle Uses In Her Sweet Potato Pie

Patti LaBelle may be best known as a Grammy-award-winning singer and actress, but the 79-year-old has proven throughout her life that there's little she can't do. She also loves to cook and has released four cookbooks, featuring LaBelle's family Mac 'N' Cheese recipe, featuring a stick of butter and five different kinds of cheese, as well as the lobster-shrimp cakes that are a staple at her family's summer gatherings. But after a review of her Walmart sweet potato pie went viral, for a while that was all anybody wanted to talk about — or purchase.

"As I said in the introduction [of the "Desserts LaBelle" cookbook]...sweet potato pie is in my blood," LaBelle told Splendid Table. She also unveiled her newest twist on her classic sweet potato pie recipe, along with the ingredients she always uses.

It turns out that LaBelle's favorite pie dough recipe involves a very common and accessible ingredient: butter-flavored Crisco. "Some cooks make their dough with butter because they like the flavor, but it bakes into a more crumbly crust. For the flakiest pie crust, you need to use vegetable shortening (or lard, but that's another story because good slow-rendered lard is not that easy to find outside of farm country)," she said. "In my family, flaky is the name of the game."

She's been using it since her first cookbook

While Patti LaBelle may have tweaked her sweet potato pie recipe a bit from the original "Norma's Black-Bottom Sweet Potato Pie" in her 1999 cookbook, her love of Crisco hasn't changed. Both the original recipe and the updated recipe in "Desserts LaBelle" include the butter-flavored Crisco as a staple for her buttery, flaky pie crust. 

LaBelle's butter-flavored Crisco suggestion is an excellent solution to achieving a rich, buttery crust, without the difficulties involved with working with the real thing. Bakers that insist on using butter to make their crust must work fast, and often have to continuously put the dough in the freezer, because the butter needs to be cold throughout the entire process to get the desired flaky crust. Using butter-flavored Crisco helps you get the results you want without temperature worries.

For many folks, Patti LaBelle's sweet potato pies have become a holiday staple in their own homes, thanks to her deal with Walmart. The store sells her Patti's Good Life bakery products which include the iconic sweet potato pie and other desserts like southern buttermilk pie and blackberry cobbler. Her pies became so popular in 2015 that Walmart reportedly sold one of her sweet potato pies every two seconds, with stores unable to keep the product on shelves. Five years later, Walmart reported that 36,000 of Patti's pies were sold every day.