Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tradition revived

This past Sunday, we started our morning right with some hot-from-the-oven, dripping-with-butter sweet potato biscuits. The recipe is from Jennifer's great grandmother on her dad's side, and the biscuits are a tradition for guests and lazy weekends. We don't often find sweet potatoes in the store here, so I had put the recipe out of my mind. Our hot weekend breakfast of late has been yogurt pancakes, and while I stand by those, they just don't hold a candle to the buttery goodness that is a well-made sweet potato biscuit. Hooray for tradition!

My great grandmother didn't have an actual "recipe" for these, so she just told someone in the family what she did, they wrote it down, and that's now what I have. Without actually having eaten any from this recipe before you try to make them, it might be hard to gauge if you are making them right, but give it a whirl anyway. I promise it's worth it! We have yet to meet someone who doesn't love them.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Bake 3-4 large sweet potatoes until soft.
Peel (no strings!).
Put some flour* in a bowl.
Add sweet potato mash, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/3 cup shortening**.
Mix together with wooden spoon or rubber spatula, adding more flour as needed until the mixture becomes tacky, but NOT dry.
Sprinkle dough lightly with flour and pull off a chunk. Roll it lightly in your palms to make a smooth ball (you'll probably need a little extra flour for this), and then press it onto a greased cooking tray or cookie sheet. Repeat until tray/sheet is full.
Bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes or until tops are nicely browned.
Set rack at lowest position in oven if you want crispy brown biscuit bottoms.

*The old "recipe" calls for bread flour/self-rising flour and then letting the dough sit in the fridge overnight. We have skipped the overnight or used all-purpose flour and haven't found any difference, so do what works best for you. I can't give you a measurement on how much because I eyeball it as taught, but I guestimate around 1 cup (maybe?).
**We use real butter, not Crisco or margarine, but that's personal preference
As for the extra browned bottoms, that's all personal preference. Members of my extended family are settled into firm camps on this, but there is no consensus. I just set the rack in the middle and go with simple.

I bake the sweet potatoes the day before. Otherwise, you'll be looking at almost 3 hours from start to finish on a lazy morning...not so nice for the cook or those hungry people waiting. As it is, give yourself a good hour for preparation and baking. With a recipe so imprecise, it's hard to say how long the baking will actually take until you master the technique and ratio of flour to mash. In case your biscuits remain gooey in the center the first few times, take heart. They aren't "biscuits" as such, but they are still REALLY tasty and there's no reason why you can't eat them gooey. Enjoy!


Mindypannell@mac.com said...

They sound so yummy! Would you post the recipe?

the dipe squad said...

Thanks for the request! At first, I was reluctant to share an old family recipe online, but then I realized that my great grandmother and my grandmother and my dad (the line through which I've gotten the recipe) weren't hoarders. If these biscuits can be enjoyed by new friends, the more the merrier has always been the policy! Good luck with it and let us know how your first batch turns out!