Biscuits are a rite of passage for many Southern women. It’s a skill passed down from generation to generation, a vessel for learning many of life’s lessons. My mother imparted her own wisdom to me through the art of making biscuits. As a small child, Mom taught me to measure the flour, cut in the fat, stir in the milk, be gentle with the dough, and cut your biscuits. There is a lot to learn from making a sheet of simple bread. You could easily apply the lessons of life to the action; lay a good foundation, cut your problems into manageable bits, stir life into the mixture that you want, shape it, form it, and then slice it into your heart’s desire, and then…be patient. That’s pretty Freudian for a breakfast dish.
Of course, just like there is more than one way to make a biscuit, life has more than one lesson. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to change things up. Add a little color and sweetness to the hum-drum of everyday life. There is no better time for color and sweetness than the holidays, and the humble sweet potato is a great way to liven up the everyday biscuit. These biscuits are moist and tender with a hint of sugar and a gorgeous color. They pair very well with a slice of holiday ham. You can make them ahead and freeze them, pulling them out and baking when you are ready.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives (or if you are feeling super lazy, the food processor), cut in the cold butter until the butter pieces are the size of small peas. In a small bowl stir the sweet potato and buttermilk together then add to the flour mixture. Stir gently until the mixture just comes together (depending on the weather and your sweet potatoes, you might have to add another splash of buttermilk). Dust a flat surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. The key to biscuits is to not mess with it too much, so you don’t want to knead as much as you just want to fold the dough together a few times until it has just come together. Pat the dough out into a circle until it’s about ¾-inch thick. Using a medium sized biscuit cutter, cut the biscuits out and place onto a lightly greased baking sheet with the edges of the biscuits touching each other. When cutting out your biscuits, make sure to press straight down, not in a twisting motion or your biscuits won’t rise very well. Brush the tops with heavy cream.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until the tops are browned. Serve with a little butter and molasses, or a nice slice of baked ham.
- Tip: Make these biscuits a little smaller and use them as a delicious appetizer at your next holiday party!