I do give thanks for biscuits. And I love a little biscuit bite in the Thanksgiving bread basket, particularly when they are made seasonal with the addition of sweet potato. These angel biscuits use yeast to get an extra rise, which is helpful when you add the dense potato purée. Make sure you potato is cooked through and soft to create the smoothest purée.
I like these biscuits in their purest form, but you could add a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon if you want to, or even some very finely chopped fresh sage. They are delicious with plain butter, but a little honey or sorghum stirred into that butter takes them up a level. And they make a great breakfast treat or party snack, stuffed with a sliver of ham or leftover turkey and a cranberry sauce. Feel free to cut them as nice big biscuits or little bite-size babies.
Sweet Potato Angel Biscuits
Makes 12 2-inch biscuits
1 large sweet potato, about 12 ounces (to yield 1 cup purée)
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2-1/4 teaspoon (1 package) active dry yeast
5 cups soft wheat flour (such as White Lilly)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
1-1/4 cup cold buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter
Prick the sweet potato all over with a skewer or a thin knife. Microwave the potato on high for 12 to 15 minutes until it is very soft when squeezed. Alternately, you can bake the potato in the oven for about an hour. Holding the potato with a folded tea towel, cut it in half and scoop the flesh into a small bowl. Mash the flesh with a fork to a smooth purée. Leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans.
Stir the sugar and warm water (about 105 degrees F.) together in a small measuring jug. Sprinkle over the yeast and leave for 10 minutes until it is foamy.
Stir the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a large bowl of a stand mixer. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. Using the paddle attachment, blend the butter and flour on low speed until the butter is the size of small BBs. You want some butter blended in, but the visible small pieces of butter help make the biscuits fluffy.
Stir 1 cup of the buttermilk into the potato purée, mixing vigorously to create a smooth liquid. Add this to the flour and butter, add the yeast mixture, and beat on medium speed, just until everything comes together. If the mixture is dry, add a little of the extra buttermilk until the dough comes together.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just a few times to pull everything together. Pat the dough out to a circle about an inch thick. Dip a cutter into flour and press it into the dough and pull up (don’t twist the cutter or the sides won’t rise). Place the cut biscuits in the prepared cake pans, fitting them in tight with the sides touching. Pat any scraps together and cut out more biscuits. Brush the tops with melted butter and bake for 10 – 12 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. If you want to brown the top of the biscuits, turn the broiler on, and watch carefully until they start to brown. You can brush the hot cooked biscuits with a little extra melted butter if you like.
If you’d like to make these biscuits ahead, you can refrigerate the unrolled dough tightly covered for up to 2 days, then proceed with the recipe. To make them further ahead, roll and cut your biscuits, place them on a baking tray and freeze for an hour or so until solid. Transfer to a ziptop bag with all the air squeezed out. Bake from frozen, increasing the cooking time as needed. If you don’t serve these fresh from the oven or have leftovers, wrap them in foil and warm in a low oven.