These biscuits have been present at almost every major family holiday and party for as long as I can remember. When I went through my very brief food aversion phases (I didn’t like shrimp or mashed potatoes for a few hot seconds, clearly illustrating that CHILDREN ARE NUTS), sweet potatoes made it onto the “I will not eat this if my life depends on it” list. Despite this firm anti-sweet potatoes position, I wanted to eat these biscuits for every meal. They’re some of the first things I learned to make in the kitchen, and in college I’d insist on driving back from Richmond with a batch wrapped in foil to stuff in my dorm’s mini-fridge. I have made them multiple times in every apartment I’ve lived in in New York, and the recipe is the one people ask for most frequently. They’re awesome, and they’re kind of foolproof: I’ve made them by hand, with an electric mixer, and in a food processer (Mère Sweets’ method of choice). You can make them big for sandwiches or tiny for cocktail parties. You can even make the dough and cut them out ahead of time, freeze them on a cookie sheet for two hours, and then dump them in a freezer ziplock bag to have on hand to pop in the oven at the drop of a hat. If you get a good salty country ham, and you do not slice it thin and eat it on these biscuits, then you are a damn fool (although leftover Thanksgiving turkey is also acceptable).
There are a few things that can, well, not ruin them, but alter them and make them slightly less magnificent, and unfortunately one of them is out of your control: your potatoes. You want the bright, deep orange beauties that I sometimes see called “Garnet Yams”. They have provided the most consistent results for me, as well as the best color. Sometimes, for whatever reason, your biscuits won’t be as moist or flavorful as they’ve been before, and it’s okay. It’s not you; it’s your potatoes (it’s not you; it’s your bra. THIS BLOG COMES FULL CIRCLE!). The one thing that IS in your control, however, is your baking powder, and I will shout this so you always remember it: ALUMINUM-FREE. Check your labels. Clabber Girl is an adorably retro/beloved baking powder brand, and we had it in the house in Virginia once, and when our biscuits tasted bitter and turned kind of green-ish, I read the label on the baking powder. Yep, aluminum. For best baking results no matter what, always make sure your baking powder is aluminum free. And now, the best things ever:
Sweet Potato Biscuits
From Mom, by way of Blue Pete’s Restaurant in Virginia Beach
1 ½ cup mashed sweet potatoes, baked (directions below) and still warm (about 2-3 medium potatoes)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp. whole milk, cream, or ½ and ½ (don’t use skim or low-fat milk; it’ll make your biscuits dry)
3 ½ to 4 cups flour
1 tsp. table salt
4 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, and bake until they’re quite soft and tender when pierced with a fork, anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, depending on size. (Mom wraps each potato individually in foil, which I did not realize until this Thanksgiving, but since I’d been baking them unwrapped for about five years before then, I think we can safely say either method works).
Allow to cool for about 15-20 minutes, then peel and mash with a fork. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of mashed sweet potato and reserve the rest for dinner (yum).
Mix the sweet potatoes, sugar, butter and milk in a large bowl, with an electric mixer (paddle attachment), or pulse in the bowl of a food processor until combined.
Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Blend dry ingredients into the potato mixture. Knead/pulse until the dough just barely doesn’t stick to your fingers.
Gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a floured work surface. Roll out the dough to about ½ inch in thickness. Using a juice glass or a round cookie cutter dipped in flour, cut out the biscuits and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, very closely spaced together.
Bake on the middle rack for 14-16 minutes (if your biscuits are coming from the freezer, you’ll need to add a few minutes to the baking time). Serve warm, or allow to cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Seriously, these make ham biscuits so good you’ll want to weep. I recommend a good, salty country ham. They’re also delicious with apple butter or honey butter.
The cinnamon gives these a distinctly Autumnal vibe, but if you’re looking for a variation for Spring/Summer, Mom recommends omitting the cinnamon and substituting 1-2 tbsp. finely minced fresh rosemary.
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Seriously, how could I not go for this?
Orange-colored cinnamon biscuits, meet orange-colored cinnamon LACY ADORABLENESS. Smaller-busted ladies, please rock the hell out of this for me.
It’s also available in navy and cream on the Zinke website, along with their other beautiful silk and lace lingerie, bralettes, loungewear, and completely amazing swimwear. Go get yourself a treat, and have a biscuit.
*Note: I am neck-deep in a major work project this week, and this post has been pre-scheduled. My responses may be limited or nonexistent until the project is over.