sweet potato biscuits
- 1 large sweet potato
- ¼ cup cold half and half
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for patting out dough and cutting biscuits
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- Pinch of paprika
- Salt and black pepper
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into roughly ½-inch cubes
- Set the oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet (roughly 18 by 13 inches) with parchment paper or a nonstick (silicone) liner, and set aside. Prick the sweet potato in several spots with a fork, place it on a small baking sheet, and bake until fully tender, about 1¼ hours. Cut the potato open, peel back the skin (to release steam), cool it to room temperature (about 40 minutes), peel off the skin, and roughly mash the flesh (you should have about 1½ cups). Add the half-and-half, mix very well, and set aside.
- In a food processor, process 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper until well blended (making sure the brown sugar is thoroughly broken down and incorporated). Scatter the butter pieces evenly over the flour mixture in the food processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 6 2-second pulses. Add the sweet potato mixture in dollops in several spots over the flour and butter mixture, and pulse until the flour and sweet potato mixtures combine and just begin to come together into a light-orange dough mass, 10 to 15 2-second pulses.
- If you turned off the oven earlier, reheat it to 425 degrees. Generously flour a clean work surface, turn out the dough, and sprinkle flour over the top of the dough. Knead the dough gently, folding it in half and rotating it 3 or 4 times, just until it is uniform and cohesive (try to keep the kneading to a minimum). Sprinkle a little bit more flour on the work surface and dough to prevent sticking, if necessary, and gently pat the dough into a circle that is roughly 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch high (the height is more important than the shape or diameter, which may vary).
- Dip a sharp 2½-inch biscuit cutter into flour and using brisk, decisive, straight-down punches (avoid rotating or twisting the cutter in the dough), cut out rounds of dough as close to one another as possible (to maximize the number of rounds), dipping the cutter into flour before each new cut. Transfer the dough rounds to the lined baking sheet, positioning them about 1 inch apart. Push the dough scraps together and knead them gently once or twice until cohesive. Pat out the dough until it is 1 inch high, dip the cutter into flour, and in the same manner as before, cut out as many dough rounds as possible, and transfer them to the baking sheet with the first batch.
- Bake until the biscuits are puffed, light golden on top, and deep brown on the bottom, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking time for even cooking. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack, cool for about 15 minutes, and serve warm.