Friday, October 3, 2014

Sweet Potato Scones with Brown Sugar Icing

Since 2008, West Oakland has had the good fortune to have a soul food restaurant feeding the community in more ways than one. Tanya Holland opened Brown Sugar Kitchen to serve breakfast and lunch, to purchase most of what the restaurant uses from local producers, to hire local cooks, and to become a venue that supports local organizations. The food is traditional in concept and contemporary in execution. It’s real soul food made fresh with just a few updates. The recipes are in the new book Brown Sugar Kitchen, and I received a review copy. There’s a forward by Michael Chabon, who happens to be a regular customer, and photos are by Jody Horton of Austin. I was struck by Chabon’s thoughtful definition of soul food: “Soul food is the little joint at the broken heart of America where all the kitchen inheritances ingather, and get tangled like travelers’ yarns, like the paths of exile and homecoming, like strands of DNA.” If I were visiting Oakland, I would happily wait in line to try the Cornmeal Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup, the Creole Shrimp and Grits, or one of those lovely-looking Sticky Buns. And, with the book, I can try them at home without planning a trip. That more contemporary angle on soul food I mentioned shows through in the Roasted Green Beans with Sesame-Seed Dressing which I tried and which disappeared from our plates faster than any other green bean dish to date. Also, the Simply Sauteed Collard Greens, Okra Peperonata, and Green Chile-Harissa Potato Gratin are updated versions of classic dishes. There’s a Caribbean Lobster Roll with Spicy Lime Aioli, a Bourbon and Chili-Glazed Salmon, and Buttermilk Fried Chicken. There are also soups and sandwiches, desserts, and drinks. But, I got distracted in the breakfast chapter when I saw the Sweet Potato Scones with Brown Sugar Icing. 

I expected these scones to be similar to the pumpkin scones I’ve been making for years. For those, I add pumpkin puree to the flour and butter mixture. Here, the sweet potato was diced and sauteed in a little butter and left diced when mixed into the scone dough. The cooked sweet potato does need to be completely cooled in the refrigerator before being added to the dough. The rest of the process was the same as most scone recipes. I tend to always work the butter into the flour by hand rather than using a food processor. And, I used Muscovado sugar for the brown sugar, but those were the only changes I made. Once the butter was worked into the dry ingredients including flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg, currants and the cooled sweet potato were added. Then, cream was added, the dough was kneaded briefly, it was formed into a disk, and it was cut into triangles and baked. The icing was a mix of melted butter, brown sugar, and cream thickened with confectioners’ sugar. 

So, about those pieces of diced sweet potato in the scones? They were delightful. The cooked sweet potato was as tender as the rest of the scone, and the sweet, chewy bits of currants were a lovely added touch. And, the icing on top was a rich, layer of the most delicious butterscotch. I’m sad those scones are gone now, but I can’t wait to try more things from the book. 

Sweet Potato Scones with Brown Sugar Icing 
Recipe reprinted with publisher's permission from Brown Sugar Kitchen.


A scone has a sweeter profile and a slightly cakier texture than a biscuit. I had an idea to infuse my sweet potato obsession into a breakfast treat, so I asked our baker to come up with a recipe for sweet potato scones and she nailed it. And who wouldn't love anything topped with brown sugar icing? 

3/4 CUP/170 G unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled, plus 1 TBSP 
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced 
3 TBSP firmly packed brown sugar 
 Kosher salt 
2 CUPS/255 G all-purpose flour 
1 TBSP baking powder 
1/4 TSP ground cinnamon 
1/4 TSP ground allspice 
 PINCH of grated nutmeg 
1/2 CUP/70 G dried currants 
3/4 CUP/180 M L heavy cream, chilled 

1/4 CUP/20 G powdered sugar 
 1 TBSP unsalted butter 
1/4 CUP/50 G firmly packed brown sugar 
3 TBSP heavy cream 

To make the scones: In a wide sauté pan, melt the 1 tbsp but¬ter over medium heat. Add the sweet potato and cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Add 1 tbsp of the brown sugar and cook, stirring often, until the sweet potato caramelizes, 12 to 15 minutes. Just before the sweet potato is done, stir in a pinch of salt. Refrigerate to cool completely, about 1 hour. 

Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder, the remaining 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Scatter the chilled butter cubes over the flour mix¬ture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Do not overprocess. 

Transfer the flour-butter mixture to a large mixing bowl, add the currants and the chilled sweet potato, and toss to coat with the flour-butter mixture. Add the cream, gently stirring with a fork to incorporate. The dough should just barely come together. Do not overmix. 

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and gently knead into a ball, taking care not to mash the sweet potato cubes. The dough will feel slightly dry. Form into an 8-in/20-cm disk and cut into eight triangles. Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet. 

Bake until the scones are barely golden brown, 18 to 22 min¬utes. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the icing: Sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and cream over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the but¬ter is melted and the mixture is well combined. Pour the butter mixture over the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Let cool completely. 

When the scones are cool, set the wire rack with the scones over the baking sheet. With a small offset spatula or a table knife, spread about 1 tbsp icing on each scone. Let set for at least 15 minutes before serving. 

(To make ahead, store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.) 

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  1. Beautiful scones! Very original. A great fall treat.



  2. My mouth is know I'm going to have to make these!!!

  3. A perfect Fall afternoon snack with a pot of freshly brewed tea!

  4. I love this - they look great! I'm all about using sweet potatoes in place of other things (I just made a vichyssoise with sweet potato instead of potato!). :)

  5. Wow, my mouth is actually watering :D
    Love this autumn tea snack!

    Choc Chip Uru

  6. What an interesting method! I've always made pumpkin and sweet potato scones the same way as you but I'd love to try this method :D

  7. Sweet potato! One of my favorite ingredients! :)

  8. These must be so tasty with all those spices and currants. I love the sound of the brown sugar icing as well. What a lovely snack xx

  9. Was talking to my mom and she asked if I'd seen the scones on your blog. I have now! Sweet potato always seems easier than pumpkin to work with, so this is a great idea. Also, love Chabon, and Chabon writing about food is fantastic.

  10. Never seen such beautiful scones. Wonderful recipe ... I am going to pin these.

  11. the scones are great, obviously. sweet potatoes are magical. however, the show stopper for me is that glaze--it's the epitome of sweet decadence!

  12. It is so nice that you can see the sweet potato cubes in the scone. Perfect scones for the fall!

  13. Perfectly textured! And of course, brown sugar makes everything a little better :) Beautiful, Lisa!

  14. I love sweet potatoes, and am always looking for new ways to use them. These scones look wonderful -- such wonderful flavor. Good post -- thanks.

  15. Hi Lisa,
    How funny, I've made Pumpkin Scones a gizillion times but never sweet potato scones and chunky ones at that. Sounds like my kinda restaruant, book and yes recipe too. I must agree with the others, the icing on the cake is certainly that brown sugar!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing Lisa...

    P.S. As a side, I made codfish cakes this evening but when I had forgotten to buy potatoes, all that I had was sweet potatoes. I chunked some up, boiled them, left them and the cod chunky and continued with the rest of my usual ingredients for cod fish cakes. Worked like a charm, lol...

  16. Wow these scones look lovely Lisa. Just love that dripping brown glaze!

  17. Love this scones with a sweet potatoe twist.
    Beautiful and very creative recipe, Lisa!

  18. Hi Lisa, love sweet potatoes, what a clever combination. Looks delicious!

  19. Hi Lisa,we came over to learn this scone recipe and tried it out yesterday turned out so well....the brown glaze on top of this sweet potato is just heavenly...the flavors match perfectly,thanks for this delicious recipe :-)

  20. At fist glance, I thought I was looking at a veggie patty of some kind...what a surprise to find it was a scone! I love cookbooks like this and love reading them cover to cover. This is a fun take on pumpkin scones and I love the glaze. Sounds like the book is filled with unusual and fun recipes! Yet another to add to my wish list.

  21. So great to see scones made with sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin! I am making these! Wonderful and full of autumn! This book sounds excellent!

  22. I like my scone with a little savory and mousture (sweet potato) in it. Most scones are like hardened plaster blocks. Is that the point? Dry ass scones?

  23. Hi Lisa, what a fabulous scones! I love the idea of adding sweet potatoes. A great addition for the Thanksgiving celebration.


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