As the New Year's holidays approach, shops start putting food on sale to clear their stock before they close up for a day or two. Usually, shops are closed at least on the January 1 and some for as long as 3 days from the 1st to the 3rd. Sales are also held from January 2nd at some department stores located near or on the way to the most famous or heavily trafficked shrines. Nothing stands in the way of a consumerist opportunity!
In preparation for their closure, one of our local markets was offering some moderate bargains on various foodstuffs, particularly fruit and vegetables that they didn't want rotting away during the holiday. Of paramount attraction to me was a bag of 5 small sweet potatoes on sale for ¥100 (89 cents). I didn't quite know what I was going to do with them, but I'm too big a fan of Japanese sweet potatoes to let an opportunity pass.
While perusing various baking sites, I came across a recipe for sweet potato scones and the idea seemed quite appealing. However, it needed adapting for Japanese sweet potatoes in my opinion. To me, a scone has to have at least a reasonable amount of fat in it to add texture and the recipe I found only had 1 tablespoon of butter. I also felt it was important to account for the difference in moisture of Japanese sweet potatoes as compared to American ones. To be honest, I was almost certain the result was going to be dense and tough the first time around, but they turned out beautifully. I credit what I learned from making traditional Japanese sweet potato cakes with helping me make the right sort of modifications for the scones to turn out so well.
I'm pretty sure that these can be made with American sweet potatoes, but you'll have to keep an eye on the moisture. Japanese potatoes are exceptionally dry and may make a different sort of dough. Using American potatoes may require you to use more flour.
Sweet Potato Scones:
- 3 tbsp. butter (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 packets Splenda or heat stable artificial sweetener (optional)
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- *1 cup mashed sweet potatoes (specially prepared-see below)
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
*To prepare the sweet potatoes, steam them until they are soft. Err on the side of overcooked rather than undercooked. Do not boil them as it will introduce more moisture. Peel them and press them through a fine sieve to mash them. This will remove any lumps or heavily fibrous portions and help make the dough lighter.
Cream the butter and sugar with a hand mixer. Add the salt and Splenda (if desired) and eggs. Beat again until well incorporated. Add the mashed potato and beat again. Sift the flour and baking powder into the potatoes and mix. Knead it a little to make sure the flour is incorporated but make sure not to over-mix it as it will make the scones tough. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 3/4 of an inch thick and cut into triangular shapes. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C./425 degrees F. and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 20 minutes (until the edges are golden brown).
Splenda adds more sweetness to the scones without upsetting the balance of the moisture absorption of the sugar. Using Splenda allows you to enjoy the scones without jam, honey, or other sweet spreads and makes it possible to mainly taste the sweet potato without any sort of spread masking the flavor. If you'd like a more traditional-looking flat, crispy-topped scone, you can brush the tops of the dough with an egg wash to keep them from rising. I just didn't want to waste an egg for such a trivial difference in the final result.
Having one of these scones plain with tea or coffee for breakfast really hits the spot. :-)