Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sweet Potato Biscuits

I'm still shocked by this, but I think I might like these sweet potato biscuits even more than my favorite cornmeal biscuits that I've made about a dozen times by now. As you'll see, they don't require many ingredients and very little work as far as stamped biscuits go. The sweet potato flavor is mellowed by baking, yet strong and satisfying.

When I make simple, healthy soups, I love--love!--to serve them with a buttery bread. Having a reason to whip up homemade quick bread becomes a major motivation for the soup-making. I had already decided on the celery root soup with Swiss chard from the last post, and started thinking about delicious fresh-baked accompaniments. And from a magazine story I was working on involving Thanksgiving recipes, I happened to have an abundance of whipped sweet potatoes (to serve 10, of course) hanging out in the fridge...

I've been aware of sweet potato biscuits for years, but the opportunity to make them never arose until now. I suspected they might be valued more for the novelty than the taste. I was totally wrong. They are really tasty, and somehow less fussy than my other favorite biscuits. I adapted a recipe from the eminently reliable Dorie Greenspan, so that may have had something to do with it. I used some whole wheat flour and reduced the sugar a bit, to add some substance and cut the sweetness. They are now a permanent part of my biscuit rotation.

Have you ever baked or eaten sweet potato biscuits? If not, try these and report back!

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan
Dorie's recipe calls for 2 (15-oz) cans of sweet potatoes in light syrup, drained and mashed. I cook sweet potatoes often and tend to hand leftovers, so that is what I used here. Mine were seasoned rather elaborately with ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cayenne vanilla, salt and pepper plus a bit of coconut milk and chopped pecans...whew. But just salt and pepper would be fine.

Makes 9 to 12

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. (packed) brown sugar
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
1 cup seasoned, mashed sweet potatoes
1 egg, for egg wash (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flours, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss to coat it with flour. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, pinch and toss the butter and flour until you have a rough, sandy mixture with some pea-size lumps of butter, some ragged flakes and a variety of odd-shaped bits. Do not over work the butter.

Add the sweet potatoes and toss gently with a fork until all the flour is moistened and you have a soft dough. Knead dough inside the bowl 3 or 4 times so that you have a fairly uniform consistency. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle lightly with more flour. Flatten dough with your hand and roll it out into a 1/2-inch thick disk. Flour a 2 to 2-1/4 inch biscuit cutter and stamp out as many biscuits as you can, pushing firmly into the dough and flouring the biscuit cutter each time. Transfer biscuits to prepared baking sheet. Quickly re-roll the dough scraps and make more biscuits until you've used it all up.

If using egg wash, crack egg into a small bowl, add 1 Tbs. water and beat. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat tops of biscuits with egg wash. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown on the bottom. Transfer to a rack to cool. If you can wait, cool 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Dorie says the sweet potato flavor grows more pronounced, and I agree! Serve with butter.


Anonymous said...

My favorite way to eat sweet potato biscuits is with a little slice of salty ham and a bit of horseradish -- it's great - give it a try -- If you make mini-biscuits it's a nice appetizer.

Daniel said...

I'm always on the lookout for recipes like this that are really easy, yet creatively different somehow. Thanks for sharing this one!

Casual Kitchen

Meg said...

These are fabulous. I love anything that involves sweet potatoes!

~Dana said...

Looks Delicious!

Cate O'Malley said...

Never had or made sweet potato biscuits before but it sounds like a great alternative!

Becca said...

These were absolutely FABULOUS! I don't have pastry flour and wasn't sure if it had leavening in it, so I added a tsp of baking powder to my whole wheat flour. Will definitely make again!!!

Julie said...

Becca: I'm so glad these worked out for you! I love hearing feedback on the recipes. Whole wheat pastry flour is simply whole wheat flour with lower gluten content. This means cakes and quickbreads will be more tender rather than chewy. Self-rising flour is the stuff with leavening already included. But this is definitely a forgiving recipe, so it's no surprise that your solution worked so well. Thanks for reading the blog!

Julia said...

hi! I just tried your recipe using WW flour and I think it DEFINITELY needs baking powder. The biscuits are flat little disks that taste delicious!

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