Sweet Potato Biscuits with Ginger Molasses

My recipe is a riff on that of April McGregor’s, a fellow Calhoun Countian and author of the Sweet Potatoes cookbook in the University of North Carolina’s excellent Savor the South series, a work that enthroned her as the Empress of Sweet Potatoes, in whose cavernous kitchens I am but a scullion.  Her Imperial Majesty writes that while many recipes will advise you to knead biscuit dough, this is a mistake; kneading works up gluten in the dough, making your biscuits heavy. The ingredients must also be kept chilled and the oven preheated and very hot (450).

To 3 cups soft flour (Martha White or Dixie Lily) sifted with two teaspoons baking powder, cut in a cup of cold cooked sweet potatoes (you can use canned drained) and one stick cold butter sliced into pats. You can add chopped pecans if you like. Combine and quickly hand mix to a rice-like consistency. Add enough cold buttermilk to make a sticky dough. Pat this out in a floured surface, cut with a sharp edge, and place into a lightly oiled skillet. Don’t put them in a cake tin, or you’ll burn the bottoms. Place on an upper rack and bake for about 15 minutes. Mix a cup of molasses with a quarter cup water in a small saucepan; add a few slices of ginger and simmer until thickened.

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