Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits

Friday, December 25, 2015

On Christmas morning, my dad used to pick up a box of sweet potato biscuit sandwiches that had a slice of country ham and pumpkin butter slathered on the inside. Now that I've taken over most of the cooking here, I make biscuits for our brunch a few days before and freeze them so they're ready to bake. We still add some country ham, and this year I happen to have a jar of homemade pumpkin butter ready! Regardless of how you serve them, these sweet potato biscuits are everything you need in your life. If you already know how to make buttermilk biscuits, these are not much different with the exception of adding a sweet potato puree into the buttermilk mixture. I have roasted sweet potatoes specifically to make these, and I've used leftover mashed sweet potatoes that were already seasoned. Those are always my favorite version because the biscuits pick up whatever flavors you had going - this batch had little pieces of pecans and a hint of thyme and maple. Crumbled bacon folded into the mix is pretty amazing too. I've found the dough easier to handle in larger quantities (plus we always need extra around the holidays, and you can easily freeze unbaked biscuits.) If you'd like, just cut the recipe in half. You'll need roughly two and a half cups of flour per cup of sweet potato, but as with all biscuit doughs, feel your way through it instead of relying on strict measurements. If you need the "Biscuit 101" tutorial, check out my original recipe first.

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours!

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups mashed sweet potato, preferably Garnet Yams
1 cup buttermilk, more as needed
1/2 cup light brown sugar 
2 tsp apple pie spice
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 large eggs
5 cups (600 grams) White Lily flour, plus additional flour for your work surface*
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt, more to taste
1 cup (16 tbsp) unsalted European style butter, chilled and diced into small cubes
1/2 cup chopped pecans or cooked and crumbled bacon (optional)
Additional melted butter, for brushing biscuit tops and serving
Maple syrup, for serving (optional)

* Flour should not be self-rising. White Lily is available in the south and online for purchase. Alternatively, substitute equal portions of cake flour and regular all-purpose flour. I prefer to measure by weight for accuracy when possible, but if you don't have a scale use the 5 cup volume measurement.

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: Makes about 18 biscuits with a 2 3/4" biscuit cutter
Special Equipment: Blender or food processor, heavy baking sheet, dough scraper, biscuit cutter, pastry brush

In your blender, combine the mashed sweet potato, buttermilk, brown sugar, apple pie spice and black pepper. Now, if your sweet potatoes were already seasoned feel free to adjust my measurements to taste. Blend on high speed until you have a smooth puree, then check if it needs a pinch of salt or anything else. This gets added to a lot of flour, so it can be seasoned pretty aggressively. Once you're all set, add the eggs and blend again until smooth.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the cubed chilled butter, and rub it in between your fingers until it's all distributed into the flour. You should have a mix of crumbly pieces and big flat pieces of butter. Work quickly so as not to melt it.

Fold in the sweet potato mixture, adding additional buttermilk if necessary. It will be a slightly wet dough at this point. If you're adding any pecans or bacon you can gently stir that in now.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. With floured hands, very gently knead it a few times just enough that the dough holds together and isn't so sticky on the surface. The dough should feel light and pillowy. 

Fold the dough onto itself three times, then slide it onto a baking sheet or into a clean bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and transfer it to the fridge. Allow it to rest at least 20 minutes or up to an hour. This helps relax any gluten that was developed, for tender biscuits.

After the dough has rested, preheat your oven to 475° F. Turn the dough back out onto a floured surface and press it down with your hands so it's about an inch thick all the way across. Cut out biscuit rounds, or use a sharp knife to cut it into squares. If you're using a biscuit cutter, it helps to flour in between cuts and make sure you don't twist as you pull it up.

As you cut the biscuits out, transfer them to a silicone or parchment lined heavy baking sheet. Brush with a little bit of melted butter.

If you wanted to freeze biscuits, you'd do that now. Freeze them as they are on the baking sheet. Then once they are completely solid you can transfer them to a freezer safe plastic bag. You don't need to thaw frozen biscuits before baking.

Bake at 475°F for 12 to 15 minutes or until tops and bottoms are crusty and the sides are dry.

Of course you'd want to brush more butter on these babies, right? Right. I mix in the maple syrup to my melted butter though. Go hard or go home.

That's more like it.

These are some of my favorite biscuits ever. And I love how they come out a little different with each batch because of the leftover mashed sweet potato flavor. Enjoy y'all, and Merry Christmas!

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