Absolutely no offense to Erin of Prudence Pennywise who chose this week's recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie baking group, but I wasn't particularly fired up about baking the Sweet Potato Biscuits, which is odd, since I love sweet potatoes (in fact, when my husband is out of town, one of my fall-back dinners is a baked sweet potato).
My reluctance may be because I've been baking a lot of yeast breads, muffins, and quick breads (most of which I haven't had a chance to turn into blog posts yet). Or it may be because we don't eat a whole lot of biscuits here at home (leaving that exercise for those times when we eat breakfast out - there are lots of great biscuits to be had at restaurants here in Georgia!) So whatever the reason, I had low enthusiam and low expectations for this recipe. However, I've been in TWD long enough to know that usually that means that I will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the baking session.
Somewhere along the way, my "set of 4" lost the crucial biscuit size cutter
- I made 1/4 recipe. Since I didn't want to use a partial can of sweet potatoes, I chopped and braised a small fresh sweet potato in cider and butter - it got a little caramelized - then mashed it for the 1/4 cup I'd need for the biscuits. The puree looked a dry, so I thinned it with some milk.
- Last week I borrowed a copy of Alton Brown's baking book, I'm Just Here for More Food from the library. One entire chapter covers the "Biscuit Method" of mixing ingredients for baking, so I brushed up on Brown's methods before starting in on making the biscuits. Brown talks at great length about the "landmines" that are present at every step of biscuit-making. Yipes! I incorporated several of Brown's tips as I prepared these biscuits - hoping that I'd end up with nice fluffy biscuits:
- I froze my butter, and kept putting it in the freezer at most every opportunity.
- The dry ingredients got combined in my mini-prep food processor, then I rubbed the butter into the flour mixture with my fingers at the same time I was trying to not over-handle the dough. Back into the freezer it went.
- I turned the dough out onto lightly floured parchment paper and used the paper to handle the dough. I gave it several letter folds, trying to build up layers in the dough.
- Although Brown recommends using a 2 inch biscuit cutter for maximum rise during baking time. The set of biscuit cutters that I'd bought when I was first married has been missing that size for years, so I used a smaller cutter - closer to 1.5 inch - instead. I ended up with 6 tiny biscuits.
- I set my oven to 450 rather than Dorie's specified 425.
- Despite all those precautions, they didn't rise very much in the oven. I'm guessing it was because the dough might have needed to be wetter to get the proper rise. The sweet potato was the only wet ingredient in the entire recipe! Next time I think I'd add even more milk to the puree.
You may have guessed it by now, but I was thrilled by the taste of these biscuits! No matter that they weren't grand and tall biscuits, they were so moist and tender inside, and the flavor was subtle and savory. The teensy pinch of fresh nutmeg didn't stand out, but lent a little complexity.
The biscuits were good with sharp cheddar, but my favorite way to eat them was warm with butter. Luckily they rewarmed decently in the microwave and I was able to enjoy them for several days!
You can find the recipe on Erin's post or on pages 26 of Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.