Thursday, October 13, 2011

SWEET POTATO BISCUITS....Well, just shut my mouth!


     Perhaps Stephanie and Vivian, chef and proprietors of Sweet Potatoes (well shut my mouth!!) will forgive me for using a portion of their restaurant's name, but I just couldn't help myself.  With a name like that, don't you just want to make the trip to Winston-Salem and check them out?  (336) 727-4844 529 Trade St.  I met them recently at a foodie event, and loved hearing about their menu and their efforts to honor foods that they grew up with.  Stephanie says she bakes hundreds of sweet potatoes a day!

     I love sweet potatoes....baked whole, french-fried, oven-roasted, made into a pie, and especially into biscuits.  These sweet and savory biscuits are perfect with butter, or perhaps sourwood honey, or apple butter, and especially with country ham. 

    This recipe is simple, and was shared with me by Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, for THE NEW BLUE RIDGE COOKBOOK.  The recipe is EASY, and the biscuits will turn out tender and thick if you follow these simple directions.  Only two things you have to remember:  One, don't overwork the dough.  It's like if you overwork a cook, she gets tough.  Secondly, when you cut out the rounds with the biscuit cutter, don't twist to remove them.  When you twist, it seals the dough and they're less likely to rise.

   And really, there's a third thing to remember.  Let the biscuits cool just a bit before taking a bite, otherwise you'll burn your tongue!

     First order of business is to cook a large sweet potato.  You can pierce it with a fork or knife tip, then microwave on high for about 5 or so minutes.  Or bake, wrapped in or under foil for about 45 minutes to an hour.  You might just as well cook 3 or 4 at a time to have on hand!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly butter a large baking sheet.

Measure 1 2/3 cups flour into a large work bowl.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Then 2 1/2 teaspoons baking POWDER.  And for a touch of sweetness, 1 tablespoon packed with brown sugar.  Stir it up with a fork or the pastry cutter.

Cut 6 tablespoons of cold butter into tiny cubes.  Add to the flour mixture, and work it into the flour until the mixture sorta looks like cornmeal, or no big globs of butter remain.  If you don't have a pastry cutter, use two forks to crisscross and cut the butter into the flour.  Or, just use your clean fingers to mash the butter in.

Peel the cooked sweet potato and mash it with a fork.  You should have anywhere from 3/4 to a cup.
Add that to the flour/butter, along with 1/4 cup half & half.  This is when you do NOT overwork the dough.  Just sorta get it to clump together.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour.  Rub your hands with flour.  Dump the dough out, and knead or push the mixture together, folding, only SIX times.  Make sure the last time you fold it over that there's plenty of flour under the dough.

With your hands, shape the dough into a circle that's about 1 1/2 inch thick. 

I like to use a smaller biscuit cutter, 2 inches or less.  Place some flour into a small dish.  Cut out the biscuits, remembering to dip the cutter into flour EACH TIME BEFORE you cut.  The dough will be less likely to stick that way.  Gently form the scraps into rounds.  

Place biscuits on baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes.  They should be a bit more golden in color and firm to the touch. You may want to check their bottoms to make sure they are not turning black.

Allow to cool for just a bit, then serve.  And they're actually good the next day, too, as long as they've been stored tightly from the air.

After testing several batches of these
biscuits, I needed to work off some extra calories.  A hike to Bed Rock?  I could have taken a nap like a lizard in the sun, looking out over the Blue Ridge at Beacon Heights across the BR Parkway from Grandfather's Mountain last week.  Gorgeous view and colors!