My mother is pretty famous around the local community for her sweet potato biscuits. Unfortunately, her recipe is in her head. I’ve made them a couple of times (successfully, too) from her directions which are the following:
Put some flour in a bowl. Mash in some butter.
Put some sugar in the baked sweet potatoes.
Start mixing the flour and butter with buttermilk.
When it gets “right,” add the sweet potatoes. (The mixture should still be wet when adding the sweet potatoes.)
Mix the ingredients together and make a dough. (Ahm. The dough in this picture isn’t “right.” It’s too sticky. No problem. Add some flour.)
This is better!
Pinch off a ball of dough.
Bake the biscuits for about 15 minutes in a hot oven. (*See the knuckle prints?)
Gigi makes her sweet potato biscuits the same way for Brett, and she’s made thousands in her lifetime. If you want to try making them, I’ve written a recipe with a little bit more specific directions.
Sweet Potato Biscuits
1 medium baked, sweet potato (about ¾ cup)
1-2 tablespoons sugar (My mother would say, “MORE, MORE, MORE!”
2 cups self-rising four
4-5 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup buttermilk (may need more—or less)
Combine the sweet potato and sugar.
Make a well in the flour and add the butter. Cut the butter into the flour with fingers until part of the flour resembles coarse peas. (You may want to use a pastry blender.)
Begin adding the buttermilk to the well of butter and flour. (One hand is mixing the dough, and one hand is pouring.) As you add the buttermilk, drag in more flour from the sides of the well.
Once you’ve incorporated about half of the buttermilk, add the sweet potato mixture to the well. Mix the sweet potato and buttermilk, flour, and butter mixture.
Keep adding the buttermilk and flour until you have a pretty good-sized batter. Then add only flour to make the dough. Once the batter forms into a loose dough, knead it lightly. Too much kneading will result in tough biscuits.
Now. The next step is where my family’s recipe differs from most biscuit recipes. My cousin, Fred Thompson, who has written several cook books and a food column for the Raleigh News and Observer (check him out here), calls how we make biscuits “choking them off.” We don’t roll out the dough and cut with a cookie cutter.
We hold the dough in our hands and pinch off the end to make a biscuit. This way saves steps and some clean-up, too. Roll the pinched-off bit lightly in the palm of your hands. Only a couple of times.
Place the biscuits on a sheet pan. I use a baking stone. Then following what my grandmother always did, I give each biscuit a nudge with my knuckles (*) before placing the pan in a 450-degree oven.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Enjoy these biscuits hot or room temperature.
Ready for a delicious biscuit after a morning of baking!
Here’s the master biscuit baker celebrating her 80th birthday!
**Readers, I tried to be specific with this recipe, but making biscuits is kind of an art. You get a feel for what the batter should look like and what the dough should feel like. If the dough is soft but still holding together, I know the biscuits will be good, not tough.
My advice is practice, practice, practice!