Biscuits, Simple and Sweet

[Sweet potato biscuits, November 2008.]

This past Sunday was lovely — yoga class, a quick brunch meet-up, more coffee from my favorite spot, the farmers’ market, and then home to throw two sweet potatoes in the oven. I put on a load of laundry and thought about scrubbing the bathroom but it was so gorgeous out, so warmly, bluely, beautifully sunny and not-November that I took my book up to the roof for an hour to shirk chores and responsibilities for the littlest bit. Sometimes you just have to, I suppose, and I’m so glad I did, because it left me refreshed for the baking and house-cleaning flurry which followed. My apartment was warm and bright and cozy from the oven and all the good smells coming forth from it, and it really was a perfect afternoon.

Or maybe I just believe that because I finally baked sweet potato biscuits and they were, literally, to die for. No, I mean it. Really.

[Before the oven.]

The thing was: for whatever reason, I’d been hankering to make sweet potato biscuits for awhile — weeks even, I think. I get these funny ideas in my head sometimes (I mean, I don’t eat regular biscuits too often, though if they’re on a breakfast menu I’ll more often order one than not, and I certainly never bake them myself) and I’ve learned simply to go along with it as usually, it’s a good thing. So I searched ’round the Internet and found a few promising recipes I then cobbled together to make up my own version with brown sugar and butter (a risky decision since I’d never used any of the recipes before let alone combined them but sometimes I like to live recklessly). I really was counting on these little biscuits to be something special, even though there was no reason for it other than my wild, foolish hope.

Oh, it was my lucky day. The batter came together quite quickly and after impatiently hovering in the kitchen waiting for the allotted time to elapse I pulled my baking sheet from the oven, marveled at my orange-y beauties, piled on a healthy pat of butter, popped one into my mouth and shouted oh my god! (I really did) because it was so darn good. Sweet from the potatoes and brown sugar, a little spicy from the cinnamon, the biscuits were saved from being too cloying from the buttermilk’s tartness. Rich, buttery, decadent, and wholly delicious I ate three in quick succession (all well-augmented with softened butter) before taking a deep breath and forcing myself to take a break.

Now, I don’t think I’ll be making these again for Thanksgiving dinner later this week because that menu is pretty well planned out by this point, and adding yet another dish might cause the dining room table to buckle under its weight, but if I was hosting my own holiday meal I certainly would. I might, in fact, make them for New Year’s Eve. Or Christmas lunch. Or, you know, this coming Saturday afternoon.

A few instructions: the biscuits must be eaten warm, no excuses. They’re best heated in the oven, though the microwave will do in a pinch. They also must be eaten with lots of good (salted) butter and maybe a little bit of honey. Often they’re sliced and filled with ham, though this vegetarian will abstain, and I wonder how a thin wedge of cheddar cheese might taste? Too sweet-savory? Or just right?

Try it and let me know.

Sweet Potato Biscuits, adapted from several recipes I found online

3 c. all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. salt
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
10 Tbs. butter
2 c. mashed sweet potato (about two large potatoes roasted and mashed, with peels discarded)
1/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients and sift together. Cut in butter to make a coarse meal. Stir in sweet potatoes. Add milk and stir until sticky. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and roll to one-half inch thick. Cut with a small cookie cutter or a round glass and put on a greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart (or: drop by teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheet if you’re pressed for time, like me).

Bake 12-15 minutes until very lightly browned.

Vegans: swap margarine or vegetable shortening for the butter and put 1 tsp. vinegar into 1 cup of soy milk (and then use 1/3 cup of that) to make non-dairy ‘buttermilk.’

Join the Conversation

  1. I’ve been making these a lot, and just made them for my whole family when we were snowed in last weekend near Bear Valley. They were a hit.

    Since they’re not so great left-over, I freeze half the dough and will even pop individual ones in the oven for dinner.

  2. We took these to Thanksgiving dinner last night, and everyone loved them! We told them all to visit your site. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Why do I get the feeling that you get more done on Sunday mornings than I do the whole day?

  4. Mmm. I’ve been wanting sweet potato biscuits since I read The Secret Life of Bees. Thank you for a recipe!

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