Cheryl Day’s Sweet Potato Biscuits

By: The Local Palate
Cheryl Day's Sweet potato biscuits with honey in the background
Excerpted from Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking by Cheryl Day (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2021.

Sweet potatoes are a Southern staple. Naturally sweet, they have a great texture and flavor and are loaded with vitamins too. This recipe from Savannah baking legend, Cheryl Day, adds mashed, roasted sweet potatoes to biscuit dough. These sweet potato biscuits raise the bar, lending an appealing caramelized flavor to classic buttermilk biscuits.

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Makes about 16 biscuits

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2¼ cups (281 g) cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 6 cups (750 g) unbeached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tablespoons fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (30 g) baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
  • 2½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (3 g) baking soda
  • 14 ounces (3½ sticks/397 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch (1.5 cm) cubes, plus 4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
  • 2 to 2½ cups (473 to 592 ml) buttermilk
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling
  • Special Equipment
  • 2-inch (5 cm) biscuit cutter
  1. To roast the sweet potatoes: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray the parchment with nonstick spray.
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch (3 cm) cubes. Place the cubes on the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour, until fork-tender.
  3. Transfer the roasted potatoes to a bowl and mash them with a potato masher. Measure out 1½ cups (328 g) for this recipe (any leftovers are yours for snacking) and let cool.
  4. When you are ready to make the biscuits, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together both flours, the fine sea salt, pepper, baking powder, sugar, and baking soda. Add the cold butter cubes and toss them to coat. Working quickly, cut them in with a pastry blender, or pinch with your fingertips, smearing the butter into the flour. You should have various-sized pieces of butter ranging from coarse sandy patches to flat shaggy pieces to pea-sized chunks, with some larger bits as well.
  6. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the sweet potatoes, and mix with a rubber spatula just to incorporate. Add 1½ cups (355 ml) of the buttermilk, gently mixing with the spatula; the dough will start to look shaggy. Gradually add about ½ cup (118 ml) more buttermilk. Gently mix the ingredients with your hands until you have a shaggy dough.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Using the heel of your hand, smear the butter into the flour–that is how you build those flaky layers. Bring the dough together by smearing, folding, and turning it, then repeat until there are no more dry bits of flour remaining in the bottom of the bowl and the dough comes together in a mass. If the dough looks dry during this process, add some more of the remaining buttermilk and continue folding until it comes together.
  8. Flour a rolling pin and lightly dust your work surface and the top of the dough with flour. Roll the dough into a 1-inch-thick (3 cm) rectangle. Dip the edges of a 2-inch (5 cm) biscuit cutter into flour and punch out the biscuits (do not twist the cutter, or you will compress the layers of dough and the biscuits will not rise as high) as close together as possible, making sure to dip the cutter in flour after every cut. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch (3 cm) between them. Then carefully gather the scraps together, gently roll them out again, and cut more biscuits. (You can refrigerate the biscuits for up to 1 hour before baking.)
  9. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt.
    Place the biscuits in the oven and bake, rotating the pan halfway through for even baking, for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. The biscuits are best served hot out of the oven. Go ahead and add a pat of butter, and watch it melt.
  10. Leftover biscuits can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 day. To reheat, place the biscuits on a wire rack in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Recipe By
    Cheryl Day of Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah
  • Contributing City

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