It has been a mighty busy couple of weeks at Stellina– the quantity of butter and eggs that passes through this tiny apartment kitchen is pretty staggering! I’m still catching up on recipes from Thanksgiving, and I just couldn’t pass up posting these Sweet Potato Biscuits. I have been wanting to try Sweet Potato Biscuits for years for the grand Turkey Day feast. Trouble is, I get so excited about cooking up a storm that I generally plan way too many menu items and run out of time. For some reason, the biscuits always seem to end up getting the short end of the stick. Frankly, the same thing happened again this year… Poor little biscuits. I was busy focusing on desserts (obviously), and just couldn’t get to them. The good news is that I had another chance over the long holiday weekend for a second Thanksgiving meal, and the only thing I was in charge of this time was… BISCUITS. So finally, the fabled Sweet Potato Biscuits saw the light of day!
Sweet potatoes are one of my very favorite cooking ingredients as of late. They lend themselves so well to a range of warm Fall comfort foods, such as Mediterranean lentil dishes and stews, as well as Southwestern Sweet Potato Quesadillas! And— Best. Fries. Ever. At the moment, I am particularly enamored with the waffle-cut configuration sold at Whole Foods. Yummers. But I digress… Despite my affinity for sweet potatoes, I’ve never used them in a baking capacity. I’m not especially fond of traditional Sweet Potato Pie or Casserole for Thanksgiving, as I often find them overly sweet or too mushy. For some reason, lacing biscuits with sweet potato sounded like just the right way to feature their loveliness in a baked item. Plus, doesn’t that make these biscuits healthy… or something? 😉
The recipe also includes buttermilk, as many biscuit recipes do, which generally leads to good things when it comes to baking! Buttermilk makes baked products tender, moist, and rich– think red velvet, devil’s food, and fluffy pancakes! (Alright, pancakes aren’t baked, but their fluffiness is due in large part to buttermilk.)
I’ve considered various recipes over the years, but the one posted by BAKED a couple of weeks ago caught my eye: quick, simple, beautiful, delicious. It didn’t go quite according to plan, but the results were wicked awesome. The photos in the original blog post feature a gorgeous, smooth biscuit dough flecked with orange sweet potato chunks; in contrast, my dough was a sticky blob of a homogenous orange persuasion. This was perplexing, given the apparent simplicity of the recipe. I made a double batch and ended up having to add an extra 1 ½ cups of flour just to get the dough firm enough to handle biscuit cutters (barely). I’ve certainly mismeasured a recipe or five in my lifetime, but I’m pretty sure that was not the case this time. I was not terribly optimistic when I finally put them in the oven, and I considered scrapping the project and not writing this blog entry… but despite the dough ambiguities, the biscuits rocked! They didn’t rise quite as high as BAKED’s version, but they were soft and fluffy nevertheless. I will explain my improvisations here, and whether your dough looks like mine or like BAKED’s (be sure to check theirs out), there is a good chance you will be pleased with the results.
And since I sometimes can’t resist changing things up a bit, I decided to see what the biscuits would taste like with melted marshmallow on top, since they were for Thanksgiving, after all. This worked okay, but I plan to create a marshmallow glaze the next time I make these.
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Adapted from BAKED
Yields 9-12 biscuits
- ¾ cup sweet potato purée (canned or fresh)
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (plus up to another ¾ cup as needed if dough is too sticky)
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 10 large marshmallows, melted and stirred together (optional)
Preheat an oven to 425°F. Line a rimless baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Combine the sweet potato purée and buttermilk in a bowl and set aside. (This sounds simple, right? However, this might be where I went wrong. The recipe does not say, “whisk together”, but there is a photo in the blog post of the sweet potato purée and buttermilk in a bowl with a whisk, so I extrapolated the step of whisking them together. The mixture was a smooth, light orange color with a medium-thin, liquid consistency.) I used canned purée in the interest of time, but I would like to roast fresh sweet potatoes next time, which is very easy. Perhaps the canned product might have also affect the texture.
Place the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; whisk together until evenly incorporated. Add the cold butter pieces and blend with a pastry cutter until the butter forms pea-sized crumbs. (It is important to use very cold butter here in order to produce flaky biscuits, so I pop my butter in the freezer for about 15 minutes before adding it to the flour.) I suppose it’s possible to do this step in a food processor as well.
Prepare a generously floured work surface for your dough– I like to use a large wood butcher block. Add the sweet potato/buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix just until combined. This can be done with your hands, but if your dough is as sticky as mine, it will be a highly messy and not terribly effective endeavor.
This is where I started to be somewhat skeptical about my dough, as it resembled a thick batter more than any sort of dough that could be shaped or cut. I added ½ cup of flour, which made it slightly better, then another ½ cup, before deciding it was firm enough to turn out onto my board. (Remember, this was a double batch, so start with ¼ cup additions if making a single batch.)
It was still extremely sticky and loose, so I added yet another ½ cup of flour. At this point, I was able to pat my dough into a round about an inch thick, as directed by the recipe. It was still sticky, but manageable with well floured hands. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many biscuits as you can fit. I was able to gather the scraps and cut out a few more. The sticky dough clung for dear life to my cutters, but they were decent enough; the plain cutter produced much prettier rounds than the fluted cutter. (Nothing like the perfect biscuit cutouts in BAKED’s blog!)
Carefully place the cut biscuits on the prepared baking sheet. I put the pan in the fridge for about 15 minutes to firm up my dough a little, since the biscuits had become pretty soft. When you’re ready to bake, brush them with the beaten egg for a shiny coat before sliding them into the oven.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was quite delighted to peek at my biscuits after a few minutes– they were actually rising! The recipe calls for a baking time of 20-25 minutes or “until fluffed and slightly golden”; mine were done after about 16 minutes. Allow the biscuits to cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
While they didn’t rise quite as high as BAKED’s biscuits, they were tender, flaky, and soft, with a perfectly crisp, golden exterior– success! The savory sweet potato blended and balanced beautifully with the buttery biscuit flavor; these are really lovely for a Fall meal, holiday or not. (Wow, there was a lot of alliteration going on in that sentence!)
Although the biscuits were delicious on their own, I couldn’t resist putting a little Thanksgiving twist on them, à la marshmallow! I first tried placing a marshmallow on top of a few biscuits for the last couple minutes of baking, but they didn’t melt in that short time, so I fired up the kitchen torch. (One of my favorite cooking toys!) This worked to melt them a bit, but it did not make for attractive biscuits. I then microwaved a handful of marshmallows and stirred them together until they were uniformly melted. With a small spatula, I dropped a sticky dollop on top of a biscuit, which I then browned with the torch.
I am pleased to report that the toasty sweetness of the marshmallow complemented the savory biscuits perfectly! However, the thick, elastic texture of the melted marshmallows was awkward and messy. A glaze-style topping would be ideal, which I will undoubtedly make next time.
The biscuits received rave reviews from everyone at the table (with and without marshmallow), and I plan to make them a regular fixture of my holiday meals in the future– they shall be cast aside no more! As I said, I almost didn’t post this recipe because the process was a bit bewildering, but I am so glad I didn’t give up on these lovely little guys! I believe this dough must be very forgiving if they turned out this well despite my struggles. I hope I haven’t deterred you from trying these– please do give them a shot! They are not only great alongside turkey and stuffing; we wolfed down the leftovers the next morning while lazily watching TV, toasted and topped with butter! (Want. More. Now.) 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2012.