Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits

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I’m not sure if I was asleep for half my life, but I didn’t realize biscuits and scones were differentiated by the addition (scones) of eggs. I’m made a few scones in my day too. I guess I crave the crunch and crumble of a scone versus the flakey  breadiness of a biscuit. Why this is the case, doesn’t make sense to me either.

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These came about as an alternative to a Shepard’s pie crust. I really didn’t want  a pastry sleeping bag around the filling, so light and fluffy biscuits were the optimal choice. They prevented it from drying out, added crunch and a sandwich vessel if need be – or a lovely little butter bed. It just so happened that there was 2 batches worth of sweet potatoes in the fridge, so shucks, I just had to make them now.

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They were better than I imagined, the ingredients seemed so basic, I honestly wasn’t expecting much. However,  they were flaky, sweet and had just enough chewiness. I’ve read many reviews about ‘crumb’ in biscuits or cakes and I think I’m starting to get it. This wasn’t ‘crumbly’ but flaky and bread like at the same time. Where as a scone definitely has more ‘crumbliness’ If you don’t understand what I’m trying to say, I guess you’ll just have to go and make some scones and biscuits and see for yourself.

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Since they’re in between sweet and savoury – maybe leaning more towards sweet, you’ll find yourself looking for things to put between them, making a sandwich and making an excuse to eat more.

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 12 to 14 2-inch small biscuits or 6-10 large biscuits

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes (red skinned are my favourite) or 3/4 cup
  • 1/3 cup (79 ml) buttermilk
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose or whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons (38 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) table salt
  • 5 tablespoons (71 grams) unsalted butter, cold

(The day before or a couple hours in advance)

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place sweet potato on a tray and roast until soft, about 40 to 45 minutes.
  2. Let cool completely in skin (the fridge can speed this up) then peel. Either run potato flesh through a potato ricer or mash it until very smooth.
  3. You’re looking for 3/4 cup (191 grams) sweet potato puree (I get closer to 1 1/3 cups from 1 pound.
  4. You’ll probably have turned your oven off by now, so preheat it again to 400°F.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  6. Whisk 3/4 cup reserved sweet potato puree with buttermilk until smoothly combined. Keep nearby.
  7. In the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together.
  8. If you have a pastry blender, add the butter (if you have a sturdy pastry blender, no need to chop it first) and use the blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas. If you don’t have a pastry blender, cut the butter into small pieces with a knife and work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  9.  Continue by adding the sweet potato mixture and stir and break it up until the mixture is in big, soft chunks.
  10. Get your hands in the bowl and gently knead the dough into an even mass, using as few motions as possible (and thus, warming the dough as little as possible).
  11. Dip a biscuit cutter in flour then form biscuits by cutting straight down and not twisting — this will help give your biscuits the maximum rise.
  12. Bake biscuits on prepared sheet for 13 to 15 minutes, until puffed and slightly golden on top.

13. Cool on rack and enjoy as soon as possible

Do ahead: Biscuits are best on the first day that they’re baked. To make them ahead of time, arrange cut biscuits on a tray to freeze them. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag until needed. Bake at same temperature straight from freezer; biscuits will take about 2 minutes longer to bake.

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