1 sweet potato
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
5 tsp. baking powder
4 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup cold solid vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For The Honey Butter:
12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup honey
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
Prick the sweet potato several times with a fork. Place it directly on the oven rack and bake until very tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool completely.
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and increase the temperature to 450°F (230°C). Peel the sweet potato and force it through the medium disk of a food mill or a large-mesh sieve into a bowl. Add the buttermilk and whisk until smooth.
In a large bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the shortening and butter and, using a pastry blender, cut them into the dry ingredients until the pieces of fat resemble corn kernels. Add the buttermilk mixture and stir until a soft, crumbly dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead 8 to 10 times, until it just holds together.
Roll out and pat the dough into a rectangle 6 by 12 inches. Using a knife or cookie cutter, cut the dough into 12 rectangular biscuits. Transfer the biscuits to an ungreased insulated baking sheet or doubled regular baking sheet. Bake until the biscuits have risen and their edges and bottoms are lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the honey butter. In a small bowl, stir together the butter and honey until light and fluffy. Serve the biscuits hot, accompanied with the honey butter.
Makes 12 biscuits.
The sweet potato can be baked 1 day ahead and kept at room temperature. The dry and wet mixtures can be prepared several hours in advance, but do not combine them until you are ready to bake. The honey butter can be prepared several days ahead and refrigerated.
Source: Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series,Thanksgiving,by Michael McLaughlin (Simon & Schuster, 2001).
Date: May 21, 2003