Why, Hello! What a surprise to see you here! Don't forget to wipe your feet on the way in, it's so dusty round these parts. There now, won't you come in and sit down? It's so nice to have you for a visit, dear. How is your old aunt getting on with her arthur-itis? Oh, good, good, I'm glad to hear it. I'm glad to hear about your daughter's engagement; we were wondering when it would happen. Such a nice young man she found, and only two tattoos, isn't that somethin? Now that you're seated, I have a little announcment myself, just a bit of news, now there's no need to panic. I, ahem, am officially the host-ess with the most-ess for Tuesdays with Dorie. Little old me. You'd probably heard, hadn't you? Is that why you came for a visit, to see the hostess? I hope I look the part in my freshly pressed calico house dress. I did think about wearing them hostess pants, that Ethel done gave me on my last birthday, but between you and me, they're just a might too big-for your britches high horse for me.. Maybe I'll wear'em the next time my hostess turn rolls around, in 2012. If they still fit, that is, after three more years of Tuesdays with Dorie. You know, dear, I've eaten my way through cakes, cookies, pies, eclaires, tartes, tortes, scones, muffins, and ice creams for my turn. And now my turn is finally here. I chose sweet potato biscuits; why, I've got some warm from the oven right now. You just sit tight and I'll bring you one now with a little butter and orange marmalade. There you are. Oh, I'm so glad you liked them, honey lamb. If you're still hungry, I'll bring you out a little bitty sandwich with barbecued shredded beef. You know dear heart, I liked these biscuits so much that I made some sweet potato rolls the next day. I wrapped up a good dozen and took them down to the neighbors, on account of the mother being sick with the new fangled piggy flu. Sure, I can get you that recipe. Why, it's not trouble t'all, it'd be my neighborly duty. Well, I guess it's getting a little late, and I've got to be up early to help Jedediah milk the cows; his backs never been the same since he had the chiro-prac-tic adjustment. But it's been awful good having you for a visit. I'm glad you're here and I hope you'll come back and follow me around often, especially on Tuesdays. A body gets plum lonesome for someone to come around and help eat all these treats. You tell your friend and neighbors to come around too, won't ya??? There's plenty for everyone.
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.