Sweet potatoes started out as a way of stretching expensive refined flour in biscuit doughs for those who couldn't afford otherwise, but they're not just an economical step: They create moist, flavorful biscuits that are even more likely to be tender, because some of that sweet potato replaces what would otherwise be wheat gluten. Here are the steps to make them.
Why this recipe works:
- The moisture-absorbing nature of sweet-potato starch gives structure to the biscuits, while the starch that's broken down during the cooking process contributes a rich flavor and mild notes of sweetness.
- Mashing the sweet potato by hand gives the biscuit lots of texture and preserves small pieces of sweet potato that offer little bursts of pure sweet-potato flavor.
- Yield:Makes about 15 medium biscuits
- Active time: 25 minutes
- Total time:2 hours
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, plus 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool completely. Scoop sweet-potato flesh into a medium bowl and, using a potato masher, mash into a purée. Measure out 1 1/4 cups purée and return to the bowl, reserving the rest of the mashed sweet potato for another use.
Add heavy cream and buttermilk to sweet-potato purée and whisk until thoroughly combined.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together.
Toss the cold butter into dry ingredients. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, rub butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Work quickly, so your hands don't melt the butter.
Add sweet potato mixture to dry ingredients. Using a spatula, gently stir 5 to 6 times, or until the mixture is fully hydrated. The dough should look shaggy and wet.
Line a baking sheet with parchment, or coat it lightly with cooking spray. Using a teaspoon or small ice cream scoop, scoop walnut-sized balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet.
Brush dough balls with the remaining melted butter and bake them at 400°F until bottoms are browned and the tops turn slightly golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer biscuits to a rack to cool, then serve.