My mother was a clever cook. Before it was chic to disguise vegetables into ordinary foodstuffs for young picky eaters, Mom used a variety of techniques to surreptitiously keep us climbing the food pyramid. Equipped with her trusty blender, she whirred a veritable smorgasbord of vegetables and fruits into drinks, soups, and binders for healthy and hearty dishes. Meatloaf was truly a “mystery meat,” but one we all loved and gobbled up, and unknowingly eating “kid poison.”
As an accommodation to her mother, my daughter, Jessica, keeps a “Mimi” basket in her pantry that I keep stuffed with ingredients with the best intentions of recreating something new for her family that I’ve tried and hope to make during my visits. You know, stuff like coconut milk, toasted sesame oil, lentils, quinoa, brown rice. The Mimi basket has grown over the years. My daughter and son-in-law are very patient with me, especially on those occasions when a new basket addition is a 2-pound milk chocolate bar from Trader Joe’s.
So, on a recent visit over Mother’s Day this year, I found two sweet potatoes in my basket that I suspected I bought at Christmas. Hmmm – the milk chocolate was gone. Nuts.
Hmmm – the sweet potatoes looked good. Peeled one, and it was fabulous. And, nothing has changed since my childhood days – her boys, Quinten and Joshua, are fabulous children but OK vegetable eaters. I figured they could use a little help. We Mimi’s always have our gears fully engaged – sometimes that can be a happy thing! I mean – what kid doesn’t like bread? Biscuits, banana bread, pancakes, muffins, dinner rolls, pizza crust?
Happily, I quickly found this sweet potato biscuit recipe from the Boston Globe, and put them on the menu for dinner that night. Instructions tell cooks to bake the sweet potatoes in their skins, cool, and scoop out the flesh. Instead, I peeled them, boiled them for 15 minutes, put a lid on them, and off the stove to cool, drain and mash. I think it’s quicker. Also, this recipe calls for black and cayenne pepper. I skipped that, but increased the brown sugar from one tablespoonful to two. Since there was a barely used 5-pound bag of whole wheat flour in the Mimi basket, I decided to substitute 1/2 cup for a portion of the white flour called for. The dough is a little sticky, so don’t feel you need to add more flour.
Ready for the over!
What a fabulous biscuit success! My big kids as well as my little kids loved them. I whipped up a batch for my husband when I returned to Billings, and he’s a big fan, too. These sweet potato biscuits are becoming a regular part of our healthy meal plan. They’re moist and tender with a crunchy exterior and a soft inside. But the reason I really love these sweet potato biscuits is because they bake up and look like regular biscuits – not an easy task with such wet ingredients. Hope your picky brood loves them, too.
- 1 medium-large sweet potato, about 14 ounces
- ¼ cup cold buttermilk
- 1½ cups white flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon sale
- Pinch black pepper (optional)
- Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- 8 Tablespoons (one stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½" cubes
- Preheat overn to 425 degrees.
- Peel sweet potato and cut into cubes. Place cubes into a small sauce pan, add water until just covered, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook for 10-15 minutes until sweet potatoes are just tender. Remove from heat, cover with lid, and let sweet potatoes stand for 10 more minutes. Drain and mash, but leave a few small chunks of potato - they look so pretty in the finished product. Add buttermilk and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together white flour, wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, and black and cayenne peppers (if you're using pepper). Make sure the brown sugar is broken down and completely incorporated into the dry mixture.
- Add the cold butter cubes. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, two knives, or whatever you use to cut fat into flour. The mixture should look a little crumbly.
- Add the sweet potato/buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork until all ingredients begin to come together.
- Dump the flour/butter/sweet potato dough onto a floured surface. Gently knead the dough 15 times or so, until you have a nicely incorporated dough. The dough will be sticky, but resist the temptation to add more flour.
- Gently pat the dough into an 8" circle, one inch high. Dip a 2" biscuit cutter in flour, and begin to cut the rounds. Bring scraps together to cut more rounds until all the dough is used. Place the rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
- Bake the biscuits at 425 degrees for 15-17 minutes, or until they're nicely browned on top. Remove from the oven. Put the biscuits on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.