Perhaps it’s time I came clean about my bread infatuation. I’m infatuated with bread. There. I’m clean. I’ve only recently come to realize that those close to me don’t share my love of bread (or, perhaps, my over-love), and I admit I’m a little surprised by it. Much the same way I was surprised when my sisters didn’t agree with me that Micah was the hottest thing ever when I brought him home.
So I can’t pretend it doesn’t hurt me, just a little, when I serve up the perfect slice of light, fluffy bread only to have my family eat it silently, with nary a comment about how it’s probably the best bread they’ve ever tasted in their entire lives and wow, Mom, aren’t you awesome?
But my love of bread is not totally lost on the fam. Somewhere along the line they got the hint that yeasted things make my heart sing. And so, for Mother’s Day, they presented me with The Bread Bible. From which I will learn to make heavenly loaves fit for 5,000. Or something like that. My first attempt — these sweet potato biscuits — was, I believe, successful. True, it only fed four, but it moved one of them to tears (as he frantically pointed, signed “more,” and scrunched his face into the most pathetic expression of want, ever), kept another from complaining or whining even once, and prompted a third to say something along the lines of, “Those were really good.”
The fourth is trying to be satisfied with such understated expressions of satisfaction.
Sweet Potato Biscuits adapted from The Bread Bible
6 tablespoons unsalted cold unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 large hard-boiled eggs (yolks only)
2/3 cup heavy cream or buttermilk
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons baked sweet potato (at room temp), pushed through a sieve
Cut the butter in small bits and refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 10.
In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the butter and using your fingers or an electric mixer on low speed, mix until it resembles coarse meal. Press the egg yolks through a fine mesh sieve into the flour mixture and whisk together. Whisk the cream or buttermilk into the sweet potato. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture, just until the flour is moistened and the dough comes together so you can form a ball with your hands. (It will be very soft and sticky.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours. Once it has risen once, pat it down, cover it tightly, and put it in the fridge. Let it sit in the fridge for 4 hours or up to 3 days.
Scrape the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it until it develops a little elasticity and feels smooth. Pat or roll it until it is 3/4 inch thick.
Using a biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut the biscuits and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Knead the scraps, re-roll the dough, and cut more biscuits. When all the dough is used, cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 30 minutes before baking and place a baking stone or empty baking sheet on the middle shelf. When the biscuits are finished rising, place the baking sheet on the baking stone or baking sheet in the pre-heated oven. Raise the temperature to 400, bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat back to 375. Bake 10-15 more minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool slightly.