Benjamina Ebuehi's sour cream sage doughnuts

A Good Day To Bake: 3 sweet recipes that include a surprising savoury ingredient

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Great British Bake Off contestant Benjamina Ebuehi is back with a new book – here we’re sharing three of her unique recipes for sweet and savoury bakes.

From peanut butter and jam to salted caramel, we’re well aware of the appeal of mixing sweet and savoury. But here to take it one step further is baker, food stylist and recipe writer Benjamina Ebuehi. Known for competing in the 2016 season of The Great British Bake Off, with her new book, A Good Day To Bake, Benjamina is presenting us with 70 sweet and savoury baking recipes for any day of the week. 

A Good Day to Bake by Benjamina Ebuehi
A Good Day to Bake by Benjamina Ebuehi

Promising to deliver on flavour while keeping recipes straightforward, Benjamina’s unique recipes are instantly eye-catching, featuring everything from miso cookies to rooibos and rose friands, with each showcasing her unique flair for adding an unexpected ingredient to everyday bakes.  

And it’s Benjamina’s use of herbs in sweet recipes that particularly piqued our curiosity – not to mention had our taste buds intrigued. Using the likes of bay, rosemary, sage and more, the baker brings a whole new dimension to her sugar-laced recipes.

While we’re well used to flavours of sage in savoury dishes – Sunday roast, we’re looking at you – you may not have ventured into incorporating the woody herb into your sweet treats. Well, Benjamina is here to change that with her sour cream and sage doughnuts. Promising to be sweet, sticky and dense, we’re sure the herb will add an enticingly addictive element to the classic doughnut. 

Next, Benjamina uses the underrated tarragon to ensure her blondie recipe stands out in a sea of brownies. Using the herb to flavour both the butter in the batter and as an attractive decoration on top, you’re sure to get a sweet aniseed hit in every bite.

And lastly, a classic chocolate swiss roll is given a modern twist with a rosemary-scented cream filling. The use of both white chocolate and cocoa powder makes this a must for chocolate lovers, with the savoury-spiked cream keeping the bake from being sickly sweet.

  • Sour cream sage doughnuts

    Benjamina Ebuehi's sour cream sage doughnuts
    Benjamina Ebuehi's sour cream sage doughnuts

    Benjamina says: “These are based on the old-fashioned, sour cream doughnuts I would buy multiple times a week as an exchange student in Canada. The dense, cakey interior and signature scraggly crust are completely opposite to a more traditional yeasted doughnut, but these always draw me in again and again. I’ve flavoured them with sage, one of my favourite herbs, which often doesn’t get much use outside of the Christmas table. However, it works so well in sweet recipes, bringing an aromatic, earthy tone.”

    Makes 8–10 doughnuts plus doughnut holes

    Ingredients

    • 300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
    • 1 tbsp cornflour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 120g caster sugar
    • 16 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
    • 3 egg yolks
    • 20g unsalted butter, softened
    • 150g sour cream
    • 1 litre vegetable oil, for deep-frying

    For the glaze:

    • 250g icing sugar
    • 50ml milk, plus more if needed
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • pinch of salt

    Method

    Mix the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.

    In a large bowl, add the sugar and sage. Use your fingertips to rub the sage into the sugar until fragrant. Add the yolks and butter to the bowl and whip together until pale and smooth. Pour in the sour cream and beat for another minute to combine.

    Add the flour mixture in three batches, stirring gently after each addition. Once all the flour has been added, wrap the dough in plastic wrap – it’ll be quite soft and a little sticky. Chill in the refrigerator for one to two hours, or until it has firmed up. (You can also make this ahead and leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight.)

    Once chilled, generously dust your work surface with flour. Roll the dough out to about 1cm thick. Dip a doughnut cutter in some flour and cut out as many doughnuts and doughnut holes as you can before re-rolling and cutting again. Place the doughnuts on a baking sheet to chill in the refrigerator.

    Pour a 5cm depth of oil into a heavy-based saucepan (or use a deep-fat fryer) and heat to 170°C or until a cube of bread sizzles and browns when dropped into the hot oil. Fry two to three doughnuts at a time, for about 2 minutes on each side, keeping an eye on the temperature of the oil and adjusting the heat when necessary. The doughnut holes will take about half the time to cook. Place the cooked doughnuts on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil and let them cool for a few minutes.

    To make the glaze, add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk until smooth. The glaze should be quite runny, so add a little more milk if it’s too thick. Dip the doughnut holes and the top of each doughnut quickly in the glaze and place them on a wire rack with a tray underneath to catch the drips. Let the glaze set for 15 minutes before serving.

  • Tarragon blondies

    Benjamina Ebuehi's tarragon blondies
    Benjamina Ebuehi's tarragon blondies

    Benjamina says: “When you think of tarragon, what comes to mind? It’s not the most used or popular herb and, likewise, blondies tend to be outshone by their more popular big sister, the brownie. So these two are right at home together, creating something deliciously unexpected. The liquorice flavour of the tarragon comes through subtly and sits comfortably against the buttery sweetness of the blondies. Laying the leaves on top of the batter, right before it goes into the oven, is my favourite bit when making these. I enjoy the process of laying them down, and letting them overlap, curl and bend in any which way they fancy.”

    Makes 9–12

    • Ingredients
    • 225g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
    • 5 sprigs of tarragon, plus extra leaves to decorate
    • 200g light brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
    • 160g plain flour
    • pinch of ground cloves
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
    • 50g macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease and line a 20-cm (8-in) square cake pan.

    Finely chop one sprig of tarragon and set aside.

    Add the butter and remaining four whole sprigs of tarragon to a small saucepan. Gently melt the butter, then remove from the heat, cover and let it steep for 15–20 minutes. (For a stronger flavour you can leave this for one hour.)

    Strain the butter into a large bowl, discarding the herbs. Once cooled, mix in the sugar, then stir in the eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour, ground cloves, chopped tarragon and salt, stirring gently until just combined. Mix in the white chocolate and chopped nuts.

    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and arrange the extra tarragon leaves on top of the batter. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until just set.

    Let the blondies cool completely before serving. For a super clean cut, chill them in the refrigerator for a few hours before slicing with a sharp knife.

  • Double chocolate, rosemary and hazelnut roll

    Benjamina Ebuehi's double chocolate, rosemary and hazelnut roll
    Benjamina Ebuehi's double chocolate, rosemary and hazelnut roll

    Benjamina says: “For me, the best part about making a Swiss roll or roulade is the process of rolling it up. The first time you give it a go it might feel a little scary but the trick is to be confident with it. Seeing a sponge become flexible enough to bend and furl, snuggling up to the soft filling as you carefully help it along is extremely satisfying. Don’t be scared of any cracks either – embrace them. As long as you have fun rolling it up, there’s nothing a good dusting of cocoa powder can’t sort.”

    Serves 8

    Ingredients

    For the rosemary cream:

    • 300ml double cream
    • 2 large sprigs of rosemary
    • 60g white chocolate, finely chopped

    For the sponge:

    • 90g plain flour
    • 20g (3 heaped tbsp) cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
    • ½ tsp baking powder
    • 4 eggs
    • 100g caster sugar
    • finely grated zest of 1 orange
    • 2 tbsp chopped roasted Hazelnuts

    Method

    Start with the rosemary cream, as it needs time to chill. Heat the double cream with the rosemary in a small saucepan until steaming, just before the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to steep for 15 minutes. Add the chopped white chocolate to a heatproof bowl.

    Remove the rosemary from the pan and gently reheat the cream until hot but not boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir gently until smooth. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for two hours, or until completely cold.

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Line a 23 x 33-cm (9 x 13-in) Swiss roll pan or baking sheet at least 1cm deep.

    Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and set aside.

    Using an electric whisk or stand mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar and orange zest on high speed for three to five minutes until thick, pale and nearly tripled in volume. You want the eggs to get to ribbon stage – when you lift the beaters from the mixer, the eggs should fall back in thick trails and stay on the surface for a few moments before disappearing. Sift in the flour mixture in three batches. Gently fold after each addition, being really careful not to knock out too much air. Make sure you’re getting right down to the bottom of the bowl where pockets of flour may be hiding.

    Once all the flour has been incorporated, pour the batter into the pan, again being careful not to knock out more air. Tilt the pan so the batter fills all the corners. Bake for 12–15 minutes until the cake feels springy to the touch.

    Remove from the oven and let it cool for a minute. Place a sheet of baking paper that’s a little larger than your pan on your work surface. Dust generously with cocoa powder and then invert the sponge onto the paper. Peel off the baking paper that is now on top and, starting from a short end, slowly and tightly roll up the cake (with the bottom piece of baking paper rolled inside with it).

    Place the roll seam-side down and leave to cool completely. 

    Take the rosemary cream from the refrigerator and whisk until it thickens to stiff peaks.

    Once cooled, carefully unroll the sponge. Don’t panic if you have any cracks! Spread the cream evenly onto the cake and sprinkle on the chopped hazelnuts. Re-roll the sponge in the same direction as before and place in the refrigerator to firm up.

    When ready to serve, slice off each end to show the neat swirl and dust with a little more cocoa powder.

    A Good Day to Bake by Benjamina Ebuehi (Quadrille, £22) is out 17 March

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Photography: Laura Edwards 

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