When I was a kid sweet potatoes were never the apple of my eye and neither were baking powder biscuits, but here they are together in a recipe. My grandmother deftly made thousands of biscuits through the years and they were everyone else’s favorite. I understood that her biscuits were deeply appreciated even though I wasn’t on the bandwagon. I got by with a few bites drizzled with honey and no one noticed my reticence. The thing is I loved her sour dough and yeast biscuits and nothing else came close to that in my eight-year-old opinion.
Sweet potato’s warm russet color, which I now find appealing, is what made me suspicious of them as a child. Wrong color for a potato so no thank you. I know. I was like that, I’ve gotten over it. So when I saw Sweet Potato Biscuits in Bon Appétit I was curious about two childhood nemeses together in once recipe. Somebody had to do the research, right? Moments ago I finished licking my fingers and I have to say the research went well and we’ll have some for supper tonight. It’ll be a treat. I’m not a biscuit maker, but wanted to test them out before Thanksgiving. These will be on our table. After that it was an easy slide to maple roasted sweet potatoes, also on the table tonight. I thought I might make it to sweet potato pie, but enough already, though there could be one on the horizon.
Sweet potatoes are in season, available at farmer’s markets and are a super healthy food even if we do dandy them up in November. These recipes highlight their deliciousness and each are exemplary participants for the Thanksgiving feast as well as for humbler meals following or preceding.
Sweet Potato Biscuit Recipe
from Bon Appétit, November 2010
Ingredients: 1 C cooked sweet potato (no skin)/ 1 1/3 C gluten-free flour plus additional for flouring board – I used regular flour/ 2/3 C yellow cornmeal/ 1 T baking powder/ 3/4 t salt/ 1/2 C (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch cubes/ 1/2 C buttermilk (or, 1/2 C milk with a teaspoon of vinegar)/ 1/4 C maple syrup/ 1/2 C pecans, toasted & chopped. I left the nuts out.
Directions: Preheat oven to 425º/ Line baking sheet with parchment/ Peel and cook sweet potato, measure 1 C and allow to cool/ Blend flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in food processor or mixer/ Add butter and mix until ingredients become a coarse meal/ Add cooled sweet potato, buttermilk and syrup/ Process just until blended/ Add nuts, or not, and mix.
Place dough, which will be sticky, on a lightly floured board/ Pat into an 8 1/2 ” square and cut into 16 biscuits/ Or make an 8 1/2″ round circle, as I did and use your grandmother’s biscuit cutter for cutting out round biscuits/ If using a biscuit cutter, after cutting the first few, gently pat remaining dough into another circle and cut out several more/ Repeat until all dough has been used. This recipe yielded 11 1/2 biscuits for me, more if you cut them smaller.
Transfer to baking pan, brush the top of each with melted butter if you like, and bake for 18-22 minutes, until tester toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Consume biscuits while they’re warm if you can, or they can be gently reheated later. And honey in the middle of a biscuit? Still a good idea.
I may not have eaten many of my grandmother’s BP biscuits, but I was fascinated with her hands during the making and observed carefully. I remember a few things: she mixed the dough by hand in a big bowl and minimally – as soon as it came together she stopped fiddling with it and proceeded to forming biscuits; her dough was very soft; she had melted butter in her biscuit baking pan and doused each side of each biscuit as she laid them on the pan; and when the biscuits were done they were served piping hot out of the oven.
Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes Recipe
Probably enough for 6 or 8
Ingredients: 4 or 5 sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered/ 1/4 – 1/2 C maple syrup/ 2 T butter, melted/ salt & pepper/ 1/3 C finely chopped candied nuts, walnuts or filberts, optional for sprinkling on potatoes before serving/ Use the smaller amount of maple syrup if you want to decrease the sweetness factor but keep the flavor.
Directions: Place potatoes in a shallow baking dish, lightly oiled or buttered/ Mix melted butter and syrup together and drizzle evenly over potatoes, or use a pastry brush and brush each potato with the mixture/ Then sprinkle with salt & pepper/ Bake covered at 375º for 30 minutes/ Remove cover and continue to cook, basting occasionally with juices, until gold brown and tender, another 30 – 40 minutes/ Sprinkle with candied nuts if you like/ Serve immediately, or place in a clean, ovenproof dish and reheat later.
Oh the pan juices. A luscious thickened sauce is created in the roasting pan, a combination of the butter, syrup and sweet potatoes. Baste potatoes with this sauce during the final 15 minutes or so of roasting, and use it again before serving. Sweet potatoes are coated with caramelized butter and maple syrup, no marshmallows involved, but just the right amount of decadence. Cut down on amounts of butter and syrup if you prefer, and if you want to go there with the marshmallows be my guest.