A few weekends ago we were given an incredible gift of 60 degree weather in south Mississippi in early September (WHAT?) and it was heavenly. So heavenly, in fact, that I felt the urge to made pumpkin things... and drink coffee all day and crunch leaves underneath my feet.
I settled, however, for a picnic brunch with my family featuring venison sausage from our crazy generous friend John Mark and sweet potato biscuits (the often-overlooked yet most amazing autumn root vegetable). I've FINALLY unlocked the secret to flaky, fluffy biscuits, and the sweet potato just added a really lovely orange color to them, but I wouldn't say that they had an overwhelming sweet potato taste. Do they finally allow me to leave-off my search for the perfect biscuit? Well, no... but only because I love the quest. If I were less interested in testing out new recipes, then these would definitely be a contender. See what you think!
What you need:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 stick COLD (ideally frozen) unsalted butter
3/4 cup roasted sweet potato (chilled)
3/4 cup cold whole milk (also, I imagine buttermilk would be GREAT here, but I was at my parent's house and didn't have it on hand)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
What to do:
Start by either a) baking or microwaving your sweet potatoes. If you're baking them, preheat your oven to 450 degrees and prick your potatoes all around. Bake them for about 1 hour, or until they are soft and squishy. If you want to microwave them (for time's sake) prick them, put them in a shallow glass or plastic container, and put a tiny bit of water in the bottom. Microwave on high for about 15 minutes.
Then, prepare your wet ingredients. You'll want to do this FAST, as the key to flaky biscuits is to mix in your wet ingredients as they are VERY COLD still. COLD.
I keep my extra butter in the freezer, which is perfect for this as you can then use a sharp knife to chop up the butter, or --even better-- you can grate the butter into tiny, even pieces. I couldn't find the grater in my parent's house, so I had to chop. Also, measure out your milk. Put the milk AND the butter back into the refrigerator/freezer to keep it cold. Again, the secret to biscuit texture I've learned, is the mixing of the cold, wet ingredients with the dry ones.
Mix together your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda.)
Once the potato is cooked, peel it and mash it. You can also puree' it if you want a creamy, smooth biscuit texture. I wanted to see and taste the potato, so I left it a bit lumpy. Put it immediately into the freezer for about 15 minutes so as to cool it.
Once you've got the sweet potato cooled, mix it into the milk. The milk will turn a lovely orange color. Then, I put this back into the fridge for a moment while I worked the butter into the dry ingredients.
Quickly, so as not to melt the butter too much, mix the butter into the dry ingredients. Because the butter is frozen, you'll want to use your hands to work the butter into the flour mixture, and you'll know you're done when what you've got is a bowl full of little round beads made of the flour and butter. At this point, pull out your milk mixture and pour it bit by bit into the flour/butter mixture. Knead it with your hands until the ball of dough comes together (but don't over mix as you'll toughen out the dough). Form the dough into a ball and in order to keep it from sticking to everything, flour your hands and the surface where you plan to roll it out.
Serve with honey butter for a truly excellent addition.