These luscious, bright biscuits, along with the aforementioned fried brussels sprouts, are my contributions to Karina‘s sure-to-be-lovely potluck Thanksgiving. They’re wonderful. But I hesitated to write about them here, because despite my southern roots, I’m a total biscuit novice. These biscuits are, in fact, the only ones I’ve ever made. (Devoted readers, have you noticed my tendency to add sweet potatoes to things that normally don’t include them? I’m a sucker for the sweets in savory concoctions.)
At this point, though, I’ve now tried the same recipe for sweet potato biscuits three times, so if nothing else, I’m qualified to discuss this particular recipe. (That is, to the extent I’m qualified to discuss anything food-related.) I finally achieved success, on the third try, thanks to two tricks. First, if you have one, use a food processor to cut the butter into the flour mixture AND to combine the sweet potato mash/buttermilk mix into the flour. If no food processor, do combine the wet and dry mixtures thoroughly. My first two efforts ended up lumpy and dense because I didn’t do this—I was so worried about overworking the dough that I didn’t combine it well enough. Second, I found this fabulous tip on the interwebs: when forming the dough into one cohesive lump, it helps greatly to dump the dough from the food processor onto a non-terrycloth kitchen towel or napkin. Then, gather the cloth up into a bundle to press and fold the dough into a ball and then into a disk. The crumbly bits get fully incorporated, the warmth of your hands doesn’t heat up the dough, and—bonus!!—the counter stays clean.
Oh, and finally—it took me three tries to accept that sweet potato biscuits, no matter how divine, probably just can’t rise as high and fluffy as biscuits not weighed down (albeit ever so slightly) with sweet potatoes. But now that I’ve finally gotten them right, I love them just as they are.
Sweet potato biscuits
Adapted from Orangette
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs light-brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
6 Tbs chilled salted butter, in chunks
3/4 cup chilled sweet potato puree
1/3 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to milk for a total of 1/3 cup)
Peel 1-2 sweet potatoes (enough to make 3/4 cup of puree) and cut into two-inch pieces. Place in large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil and boil for about 15 minutes, until tender. Drain in colander, transfer to bowl, and mash with potato masher. Put in refrigerator or freezer until chilled.
Preheat oven to 425°.
Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to bowl of food processor and pulse until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some pea-sized lumps of butter remaining. In a small bowl, whisk sweet potato puree and buttermilk; add this mixture to food processor and pulse just until the dough is combined and relatively homogeneous.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface (or non-terrycloth towel or napkin), and knead very gently until dough comes together but is still slightly lumpy, five or six times. If dough is too sticky, work in up to 1/4 cup additional flour. Shape into a disk, and pat to an even 1-inch thickness. With a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits as close together as possible. Gather together scraps, and repeat to cut out more biscuits; do not reuse scraps more than once.
Butter or spray an 8-inch cake pan [I’ve never managed to get mine to fit in only one pan]. Arrange biscuits snugly in pan. Brush with 1/2 Tbs melted butter. Bake until golden, 20 to 24 minutes.
Yield: 8 biscuits [I’ve always ended up with more like 10]. The biscuits are best the day they’re made; if, like me for Thanksgiving, you have to make them the day before, I find that they’re best frozen, defrosted briefly in the microwave, then warmed in a 300° oven.