Peel the sweet potatoes and then cut in half lengthwise then slice into half-moon shapes, about 1/2-inch thick. Place the cut sweet potatoes into a pot large enough to hold them, along with the water, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt, butter, vanilla extract, and orange zest. Bring the pot to a boil then turn the heat down to low and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender but firm.
Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish or a large cast-iron skillet. Once the potatoes are done, transfer them with a slotted spoon to the baking dish, leaving the liquid in the pot. Turn the heat on the pot to high, and boil the liquid until it’s reduced by 1/2 and slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes, while occasionally stirring. You should have about 1 cup.
Meanwhile, to make the dough, stir together the flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, orange zest, and salt. Work into the flour mixture the cold butter until it resembles peas. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until well combined.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead it a couple of times and then it out until it’s roughly a 9×13 inch rectangle or a 10-inch round circle, depending on whether you’re baking the cobbler in a baking dish or skillet.
Evenly pour over the sweet potatoes the syrup and then place on top of the sweet potatoes the cobbler dough. Sprinkle over the dough the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, and then cut into the dough several slits so steam can release. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool for 20 minutes, then serve. Serve each slice topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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