Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Day 116

Recently, while visiting back home, my Aunt Bettye and Uncle Frank stopped by to say hello. As I’ve mentioned here before, Bettye and I share a love for cooking, and we talk often about recipes we enjoy. If we lived closer, she’d have to change her phone number (and probably move to another address without telling me…) because I’d be calling her constantly for cooking advice.
Yes, she’s that good. Remember her brown sugar pie on Day 44 of this blog? If you haven’t seen it or have forgotten how good it is, check it out here: . Bettye’s cooking is a blend of passion, talent, and intuition that I’m still trying to cultivate for myself, at least the latter two components.
Photos by Maggie Kapustin

During their visit, Bettye gave me two new cookbooks, one by the QVC chef, David Venable. Since I’m not a QVC watcher, I was not familiar with Venable’s recipes at all, but I have had a field day trying some. I stumbled upon one recipe because I happened to have two baked sweet potatoes in my fridge, leftover from a pork chop dinner earlier in the week. As I flipped through the cookbook, In the Kitchen with David Venable, I saw a recipe for sweet potato biscuits that called for the exact amount of sweet potatoes in my fridge and I had just enough buttermilk leftover too, so a star…no, a biscuit was born!  

A really, really good biscuit. I am confident that Bettye’s version of this same biscuit would taste better. She’d know precisely when dough is overworked. She’d know to add a pinch less or more of whatever might make the biscuits perfect. I am not a natural, so for me, it’s trial and error. I tried these biscuits as the roll-out variety, using a biscuit-cutter as well as making a few as “drop” biscuits. Both turned out. I also experimented with an air-bake cookie sheet versus a cake pan. Again, both worked but there seemed to be better lift in the cake pan, as Venable suggested.

My husband wasn’t around to take the picture for me, so my phone shots will have to do. They were light, fluffy, and teeming with sweet potato flavor. We ate them with butter and honey. Take a look at Venable’s original recipe if you are interested in a book purchase, and give a few of his other recipes a try as well. Everything looks incredibly good! They are delicious as stand-alone treats or as an accompaniment to pork and fried apples for a meal this coming fall. Enjoy, and thanks Bettye, for the cookbooks and for never steering me wrong with recipes and chefs!

Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked, mashed, and chilled (about 2 cups)

2 cups buttermilk
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1½ sticks (3/4 cup) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray three 9-inch round cake pans.

Mix the cold mashed sweet potatoes with 1 cup of the buttermilk until well-combined. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a bowl. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut the butter pieces into the flour mixture and blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sweet potato mixture and all but one tablespoon of the remaining 1 cup buttermilk. Mix until the dough is just combined, moist, and shaggy.

Scrape the dough onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands and gently push the dough into a ½ inch thick round. Fold the dough into thirds like an envelope, and using your hands, press the dough into a 1-inch thick round. Do not overwork the dough. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, press down without twisting and cut out as many biscuits as possible.  Gather the remaining dough and press out to a 1-inch thickness and cut out additional biscuits. Place the biscuits in the prepared pans, fitting them snuggly next to one another. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk. Bake for 12-16 minutes. Serve warm.

Recipe from 2014 copy of In the Kitchen with David Venable, pages 291-292.

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