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Simple Pleasures Made Simply Delicious: Sweet Potato Biscuits

Simple Pleasures Made Simply Delicious: Sweet Potato Biscuits

Recently, while visiting back home, my Aunt Bettye and Uncle
Frank stopped by to say hello. As I’ve mentioned here before, Bettye and I
share a love for cooking, and we talk often about recipes we enjoy. If we lived
closer, she’d have to change her phone number (and probably move to another
address without telling me…) because I’d be calling her constantly for cooking
advice.

Yes, she’s that good. Remember
her brown 
sugar pie on Day 44 of this blog? If you haven’t seen it or have
forgotten how good it is, check it out here:
http://yearofinspirations.blogspot.com/2013/08/aunt-bettyes-brown-sugar-pie.html
. Bettye’s cooking is a blend of passion, talent, and intuition that I’m still
trying to cultivate for myself, at least the latter two components.

Photos by Maggie Kapustin

During their visit, Bettye gave me two new cookbooks, one by
the QVC chef, David Venable. Since I’m not a QVC watcher, I was not familiar
with Venable’s recipes at all, but I have had a field day trying some. I
stumbled upon one recipe because I happened to have two baked sweet potatoes in
my fridge, leftover from a pork chop dinner earlier in the week. As I flipped through
the cookbook,
In the Kitchen with David Venable, I saw a recipe for sweet potato biscuits that called for the exact
amount of sweet potatoes in my fridge and I had just enough buttermilk leftover
too, so a star…no, a biscuit was born!  

A really, really good biscuit. I am confident that Bettye’s version of this
same biscuit would taste better. She’d know precisely when dough is overworked.
She’d know to add a pinch less or more of whatever might make the biscuits
perfect. I am not a natural, so for me, it’s trial and error. I tried these
biscuits as the roll-out variety, using a biscuit-cutter as well as making a
few as “drop” biscuits. Both turned out. I also experimented with an air-bake
cookie sheet versus a cake pan. Again, both worked but there seemed to be
better lift in the cake pan, as Venable suggested.
My husband wasn’t
around to take the picture for me, so my phone shots will have to do. They were
light, fluffy, and teeming with sweet potato flavor. We ate them with butter
and honey. Take a look at Venable’s original recipe if you are interested in a
book purchase, and give a few of his other recipes a try as well. Everything
looks incredibly good! They are delicious as stand-alone treats or as an
accompaniment to pork and fried apples for a meal this coming fall. Enjoy, and
thanks Bettye, for the cookbooks and for never steering me wrong with recipes
and chefs!

2 medium sweet
potatoes, cooked, mashed, and chilled (about 2 cups)

2 tablespoons
baking powder
1½ sticks (3/4 cup)
cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
Preheat oven to 450
degrees. Lightly spray three 9-inch round cake pans.
Mix the cold mashed
sweet potatoes with 1 cup of the buttermilk until well-combined. Whisk together
the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and
cloves in a bowl. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut the butter pieces
into the flour mixture and blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add
the sweet potato mixture and all but one tablespoon of the remaining 1 cup
buttermilk. Mix until the dough is just combined, moist, and shaggy.
Scrape the dough
onto a well-floured surface. Flour your hands and gently push the dough into a
½ inch thick round. Fold the dough into thirds like an envelope, and using your
hands, press the dough into a 1-inch thick round. Do not overwork the dough.
Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, press down without twisting and cut out as many biscuits
as possible.  Gather the remaining dough
and press out to a 1-inch thickness and cut out additional biscuits. Place the
biscuits in the prepared pans, fitting them snuggly next to one another. Brush
the tops of the biscuits with the remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk. Bake for
12-16 minutes. Serve warm.
Recipe from 2014 copy of In the Kitchen
with David Venable
, pages 291-292.

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