Despite living in Alabama all of my life, I’ve never come around to really liking many non-dessert southern foods, and that’s especially true when it comes to breakfast. No shrimp and grits, no biscuits and gravy, none of that. Naturally the southern breakfast foods I do like are the sweeter ones, and this recipe combines two of them: classic sweet potato biscuits and cinnamon biscuits, the kind you make last minute on a lazy weekend morning instead of cinnamon rolls because you don’t want to wait for the dough to rise. Here I’ve combined the two in a giant cinnamon roll baked in a 10 inch cast iron skillet.
Notes on Ingredients
Flour – Make sure to measure your flour accurately, because if this roll gets too dense it won’t bake in the middle. Using a kitchen scale is always the safest way to measure.
Sweet Potato to Milk Ratio – Some sweet potatoes will be drier than others, so when adding the milk you really have to go by feel. The dough shouldn’t be too dry, but it shouldn’t be wet enough to stick to the counter when you try to roll it out.
Butter – You’ll want the butter in the dough to come straight from the refrigerator, but you’ll want the butter in the filling to have softened for at least an hour so that it’s easy to spread out.
Cornstarch – I like for cinnamon filling to be a little on the thick side, so I add cornstarch or flour, but this is optional.
Notes on Technique
- Make sure the sweet potato is mashed up and the milk is mixed in well before adding the flour – this will lead to fewer lumps in the dough and help you avoid overmixing later.
- I used my 14 cup food processor to cut the butter into the flour. If you don’t have a large enough food processor, you can use a pastry blender, or try freezing the butter and grating it into the flour.
- To make the roll, divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a 10 x 18 inch rectangle. After spreading on the cinnamon filling, use a ruler or bench knife (pastry scraper) to mark the 10 inch side every 2 inches. Then use a pizza cutter or knife to cut a long strip starting from the mark, so that you end up with five 2 x 18 inch strips. You can use the bench knife to help peel them off the wax paper or countertop.
- There are two options for forming the roll: you can make a gigantic roll and then move it to the pan, or you can assemble it inside the pan strip by strip. Because this dough is dense, I found it better to give the layers a little more room to expand, so I rolled up the first few strips, then moved to assembling in the pan.
- Cooking time may vary depending on how tightly the strips are rolled. Use a knife to cut into the center just to be sure. You can cover this up with frosting later.
Cream Cheese Frosting for Cinnamon Rolls
Halfway between a buttercream and a glaze, this frosting is the perfect topping for cinnamon rolls and cookies.
Notes on Technique
- Butter and Cream Cheese – make sure these are softened before mixing the frosting, in order to avoid lumps.
- Powdered Sugar – Sifting in the powdered sugar will also help to prevent lumps.
- Milk or Cream – You can add more or less depending on how thick you prefer the frosting. Milk has a higher water content and will thin the frosting more quickly.
Sweet Potato Biscuit Cinnamon Roll
For the Sweet Potato Biscuit Dough
- 500 g sweet potatoes (1 lb) (2-3 large sweet potatoes)
- 1-2 tbsp milk or cream
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (480 g)
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup sugar (50 g)
- 12 tbsp cold butter (170 g)
For the Cinnamon Filling
- 10 Tbsp butter (142 g), softened
- 1 cup brown sugar (210 g)
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp cornstarch (optional)
- 1 pinch salt
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup powdered sugar (200 g)
- 1/4 -1/3 cup milk or cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Sweet Potato Biscuit Dough
- Cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave on high for about 7 mintues, turning them over halfway through. Stick a fork in the middle of each to make sure they are cooked all the way to the center. Allow them to cool completely.
- Scoop out the insides of the potatoes into a large mixing bowl. They should be soft enough to puree with a hand mixer or a potato masher. Mix in the milk until it is fully combined, then set the bowl aside.
- I used a 14 cup food processor to mix the dough, but you can also use a bowl and a pastry blender, or your hands. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar to the food processor and pulse until combined.
- Quickly cut up the butter and add it to the flour mixture. Pulse until the pieces of butter are pea-sized, about 10 short pulses.
- Turn out the flour and butter mixture into the bowl with the sweet potatoes and mix by hand, just until the sweet potatoes are fully incorporated. You may need to add a little more milk if the dough is too dry. Do not knead, and avoid overmixing. Divide the dough into two equal portions and flatten them into rectangles. Cover and chill them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- To make the cinnamon filling, add the softened butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, cornstarch, and pinch of salt to a small mixing bowl. Mix with a fork or a hand mixer until all of the ingredients are combined.
Assemble the Cinnamon Roll
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C.) Place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of a 10 inch cast iron skillet or cake pan. If using a cake pan, you may need to grease and flour the edges.
- Take the first half of the dough out of the refrigerator. Using wax paper or another rolling surface generously sprinkled with flour, roll the dough into a 10 X 18 inch rectangle (25 X 46 cm.) The dough can be very sticky, so make sure to use enough flour. If the edges of the rectangle are uneven, you can trim off a little.
- Using a frosting spatula or table knife, spread 1/2 of the cinnamon filling over the dough all the way to the edges.
- Using a bench knife or ruler to measure, make a small indentation every 2 inches or 5 cm along the shorter (10 inch) side of the dough. Then, using a pizza cutter or a knife, start from each mark and cut along the dough until you have five 2 X 18 inch (5 x 46 cm) strips.
- Roll up the first strip, then line up its end with the beginning of the next strip and roll again. Do this for the first few strips, then move the roll to the pan. A bench knife or pastry scraper is very helpful when separating the strips from the rolling surface.
- For the rest of the strips, move each one to the pan and wrap loosely around the outside of the roll. This will give the dough more room to expand as it cooks.
- Repeat the process with the second half of the dough, building up the roll until it almost reaches the edges of the pan, with some space in between.
- Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15-35 more minutes. The cooking time may vary depending on how tightly the roll is wrapped, so cut the center with a knife to make sure it is done. You can cover this up with frosting later.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a large bowl with a hand mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese until it is fluffy.
- Add the pinch of salt and the powdered sugar and mix, starting on low to prevent the sugar from flying everywhere, and gradually increasing the speed.
- Add the milk or cream and the vanilla extract and mix again. The amount of milk will determine the thickness, so if you'd prefer for the frosting to be more of a glaze, just add more.