Sweet Potato Biscuits
Soft and creamy-textured, with flaky layers, these biscuits satisfy like cake.
Using canned sweet potatoes makes them easy to prepare at a moment's notice. I use canned sweet potatoes packed in light syrup -- I just drain the potatoes and mash them with a fork. If you've got leftover cooked sweet potatoes or yams, give them a good mashing, measure out 3/4 to 1 cup and you're good to go.
Makes about 18 biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 15-ounce cans sweet potatoes in light syrup, drained and mashed
Pinch of ground cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Get out a sharp 2- to 2 1/4-inch-diameter biscuit cutter, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and spice, if you're using it, together in a bowl. Add the brown sugar and stir to incorporate it, making sure there are no lumps. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat it with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You'll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between -- and that's just right.
Add the sweet potatoes to the bowl, grab a fork, and toss and gently turn the ingredients until you've got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick, gentle kneading -- 3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour and pat the dough out with your hands or roll it with a pin until it is about 1/2 inch high. Don't worry if the dough isn't completely even -- a quick, light touch is more important than accuracy.
Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut the biscuits close to one another so you get the most you can out of this first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps, working them as little as possible, pat out to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer these to the sheet. (The biscuits can be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept for up to 2 months. Bake without defrosting -- just add a couple more minutes to the oven time.)
Bake the biscuits for 14 to 18 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a cooling rack -- cooled a bit, they're more sweet potatoey. Give them 10 to 15 minutes on the rack before popping them into a basket and serving.
SERVING: Unlike most biscuits, these are best served after they've had a little time to cool. They are as good at brunch (they're great with salty ham and bacon) as they are at tea (try them with a light cheese spread and/or marmalade). Or have them with butter or jam, fruit butter or fruit compote.
STORING: You can keep the biscuits in a plastic bag overnight and give them a quick warm-up in the oven the next day, but you won't recapture their freshly made flakiness.
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