We can’t talk breakfast without talking biscuits, and in many parts of the country, that necessarily includes sweet potato biscuits. Fresh out of the oven, sweet potato biscuits give you the warm, fluffy goodness of a buttermilk biscuit with an added touch of sweetness. As such, these biscuits are perfect additions to your breakfast, lunch and supper plates. With or without butter and preserves. If you want to get fancy, you can serve sweet potato biscuits with slices of salty country ham. Basically, you can’t go wrong.
Baker April McGreger grew up on a sweet potato farm in “the self-proclaimed sweet potato capital of the world” of Vardaman, Mississippi. In addition to authoring an entire book devoted to these orange fall tubers — it’s simply titled “Sweet Potatoes” — McGreger has done considerable research into how biscuits have changed in the past century. Who better to ask for a killer sweet potato biscuit recipe than the Biscuit Disciple herself? Don’t dare confuse sweet potatoes with yams though, or McGreger will school you on that.
SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
If these are too simple for you, you can also try making April McGreger’s sweet potato-cheddar biscuits. Simply omit the nutmeg, lemon zest and sorghum molasses. Add a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the dry ingredients and reduce the amount of unsalted butter in the recipe to one stick. Then stir in a cup of grated sharp cheddar once you have cut the butter into the flour.
Yield: Makes about 2 dozen biscuits
5 cups unbleached pastry flour or all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
⅛ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp lemon zest, finely grated and packed
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
1½ cups sweet potatoes, mashed and chilled
1 tbsp sorghum molasses or brown sugar
2 tbsps salted butter, melted
A 3-inch biscuit cutter
Preheat the oven to 500ºF.
Prepare the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and lemon zest. If using a food processor, transfer the flour mixture and pulse with the pastry blender attachment. Otherwise, work the butter in using your fingers until you have pieces the size of corn kernels.
In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the buttermilk, mashed sweet potatoes and sorghum molasses (or brown sugar). Stir the buttermilk mixture into the dry flour mixture to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Be careful not to overwork your dough.
Fold the dough: Lightly coat your hands with flour and turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Press the dough out into a rectangle that is about 1-inch thick. Fold the dough in half and make a quarter turn, then press it out again. Repeat this process once more, this time pressing the rectangle out to a generous ¾-inch thickness. (This process of folding and re-folding the dough creates beautiful flaky layers.)
Make the biscuits: Flour a 3-inch biscuit cutter and cut out the biscuits, taking care not to twist as you cut. Use a bench scraper or a spatula to transfer the biscuits to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, leaving about a fingertip of space between each one. Brush the tops with melted butter.
Bake the biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they turn a deep golden brown. Check the biscuits after 10 minutes and rotate the pan for even baking.
“Sweet Potatoes: A Savor the South“® cookbook by April McGreger. Copyright © 2014 by April McGreger. Used by permission of the publisher.