Sweet Potato Scones

Every time I pass up a pumpkin scone at Starbucks, I die a little inside.

But once I give in and eat one I'm just like I remember this being better.  Oh it's tasty alright, sweet and a little cinnamon-y... It's also crumbly and barely tastes of pumpkin, and this makes me sad.  I want so desperately for it to be the scone of my [constructed] memory.  So I keep eating it, thinking that impossibly it'll become deliciously tender and sparkling with spice and radiantly, unequivocally pumpkin.  I end up not entirely satisfied, and with crumbs in my lap.

But what does this have to do with sweet potatoes?

Well, for one thing I love the little guys.  Sometimes I'll eat one as a snack (or meal if I've got one leftover and I'm rushing off somewhere), having become caramelized from the roasting process, with tender flesh inside and crisp, earthy skin outside.  It's also because pumpkin recipes can be great applications for sweet potatoes.  When I want to make, say, pumpkin pie, I feel compelled to stay away from canned pumpkin (it's not that canned pumpkin is a bad product, it's just not fresh, which I find always tastes better)... But dealing with a squash like a pumpkin is a much more daunting task than dealing with a lil' old sweet potato.  For one thing, sweet potatoes are easier to find.  For another, you just have to wash them and throw it in the oven for a while to cook - but with a pumpkin, you've gotta cut off the ends, scoop the seeds out, bake it for a long time, and then scrape the flesh off of the skin.  Sweet potato skin practically falls off once you've finished cooking it (and then you've got an extra snack right there).  Also, I find that the flesh of a pumpkin is a little stringier than that of a sweet potato, so if you're using it fresh in a dessert you've gotta put it through a food processor or blender (you can just mash up sweet potato flesh easily enough with a fork).  I do go through the trouble of working with pumpkin when I feel that it is necessary for a certain recipe; however, I find that the wonderful natural sweetness of sweet potatoes, in addition to their ease of preparation, often make what was once a pumpkin recipe into something truly dessert-worthy.  Or in the case of these scones, breakfast-worthy.

Since I wanted to make a better-than-Starbucks-pumpkin-turned-sweet potato-scone, I wanted to start with a Starbucks-inspired pumpkin scone recipe.  I stumbled across one from Inspired Taste which looked promising, so I rolled with it.  I substituted some oat flour, added more squash (well, potato), and adjusted some of the spices, and there you have it, sweet potato scone.  Even two days later, my leftovers are still soft, tender, and flavorful.  PSA: The dough is very soft, so be gentle and use lots of flour.  Also, I recommend popping them in the freezer for a few minutes before baking to make sure they don't go all wonky (this is a technical term, of course).

Sweet Potato Scones

1 c oat flour
1 c all purpose flour
1/3 c brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2/3 c mashed sweet potato
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices.  Using your fingers (I suppose you could use a pastry blender or whatever, but those really annoy me... For one thing, the butter keeps getting all stuck and you have to stop and get it unclumped, and for another, it's another thing to wash), blend the butter chunks into the flour until they're about the size of small peas.  Try to work the butter as little as possible (the butter being cold is what creates a flakey, light texture).  Pop the mixture in the freezer while you work with the wet ingredients.

In a small bowl, combine the mashed sweet potato, molasses, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla.  Fold these wet ingredients into the dry, mixing as little as possible.  Dump onto a well-floured surface and pat down gently into a circle, 1-2" thick (depending on how you like your scones).  Carefully cut the circle into 8 equal triangles (the dough will be sticky), then transfer them onto a parchment-papered or greased cookie sheet.  While the oven is preheating to 400° F, keep the formed scones in the freezer (you could make them a day ahead if you want, and bake them directly from the freezer, you'll just need to add a little bit to the cooking time).  Bake them for 15-20 minutes until firm, then serve warm ane drizzled with honey (or maple syrup would be delicious also).    


  1. What is oat flour?? I want to make this.


    1. Oat flour is basically just ground-up oats. You could probably do this in a food processor if you already have oats, or I'm sure some other whole-grain flour would work just as well.