The best Thanksgiving bread baskets are a mélange of flavors and textures: tender Parker House rolls, crumbly cornbread, cakey pumpkin bread, and flaky biscuits. But who has time to bake all that in addition to making the turkey, sides, and pies? Fortunately, there are a number of top-notch baking mixes out there that would be a welcome addition to any holiday feast.
Trader Joe's makes an excellent cornbread mix. And King Arthur Flour was our top pick in last year's gingerbread taste test. But what about sweet potato biscuits? In 2009, I reviewed Paula Deen's mix and found them to be overwhelmingly sugary, with no trace of earthy sweet potato flavor. Would Williams-Sonoma's mix ($10.95) fare better?
To prepare the biscuits, I cut six tablespoons of cold butter into the mix and then stirred in one cup of buttermilk. Next, I dumped the dough, which was incredibly shaggy and sticky, onto a floured work surface and kneaded it a few times until it began to come together. (I had to flour my hands a lot to keep them from sticking.) Finally, I cut the dough into rounds using a biscuit cutter and brushed their tops with melted butter. From start to finish, the biscuits took me about 10 minutes to prepare.
After 13 minutes in a 400°F oven, the biscuits were puffed and golden brown on the bottoms. They smelled like a delicious combination of brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. What I liked best about these biscuits was their perfectly balanced sweet-savory flavor—the sweet potato was complemented by hints of oats and salt.
The biscuits also had great texture, with a tender, soft interior and a sturdy, almost crunchy exterior. My only caveat was that I would have liked them to be a bit thicker (the better for splitting and filling with leftovers!). Ultimately, this is a quick and tasty mix that would be a fitting addition to any holiday meal.
About the Author: Lucy Baker is a food writer and the author of The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets. She is currently at work on a second book about homemade food gifts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dachshund.
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