I am delighted to share with you this very unique and special cake recipe in which the main ingredient is the “Purple Yam” or locally known as “Ube” in the Philippines. If you have never had ube, purple yam, then this cake is like nothing you will have tasted before. It is difficult to describe, unusual but quite lovely. But for me, the texture is light, fluffy, and slightly purple in color, and its taste reminds me of the famous Filipino native desserts back home.
The “ube” yam or a purple yam belongs to the family of starchy vegetables, along with potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro, yucca and other root vegetables. Ube yams have the distinction of having of a purple or lavender color. You should not be mistaken with the purple yam with the purple sweet potato. In my home country, the natural sweetness of the ube yam is often used in desserts such as cakes, pastries, candies, and ice cream. My whole family goes crazy for “ube ice cream”! The nutrition profile of an ube yam is similar to that of a regular yam. So, it is not surprising to know that purple yam, the ube yam, appears in cuisines around the world!
You can actually make a homemade “ube yam” from fresh “ube halaya”. You can cook it first in boiling water. Peel it after allowing to cool down, then grate. But, if you are not in the Philippines, “ube yam” can be found in a readily-available bottle from specialist Asian stores, or in what we call “ethnic sections” in supermarkets in Oman.
Making this cake was a challenge for me. I haven’t baked this cake before mainly because purple yam is seldom available in Oman and no one asked for this cake flavor from me. But then again, as a passionate baker, I wanted to explore and discover new recipes. Mixing and matching flavors have always been an exciting part of these infinite discoveries of delightful sweet treats that tickle one’s taste buds! I spent several days searching for the perfect Ube Cake flavor from different books and mostly the internet. I studied the recipe with utmost diligence, keeping in mind that I was baking it for the first time, and I can’t go wrong. I only had my instinct to trust and my profound passion for my craft in deciding which recipe measured up to my family’s preferences. I did not find the exact “Ube Cake recipe” but settled for the one that I thought would best compliment the adjustments to make to the best Ube cake I could ever made.
This is my own version of “ube cake”. It has “macapuno” filling and whipped cream cheese frosting. The fusion of ingredients – the sweet-nutty flavor of “macapuno” or preserved sweet coconut strings and the sweet-salty-creamy taste of cream cheese – gracefully melted into one delectable indulgence that deserves to be called “Heavenly Ube Cake”!
So what are you waiting for you, shop for the ingredients and bake this cake at your very own kitchen.
Here are the things that you need:
For the Cake:
• 2 1/2 cups cake flour
• 3 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup ube (purple yam), cooked and finely grated
• 3/4 cup milk + 1/8 cup milk
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract / vanilla powder
• 1/2 cup light corn syrup
• 7 egg yolks, lightly beaten
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil / olive oil
• 7 egg whites
• 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1 cup caster’s sugar
For the Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1 *8oz. package of cream cheese
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 (12 ounce) jar macapuno (sweet coconut strings preserves) *OPTIONAL – use as filling
Now, it’s time to bake.
For the Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two 9″ round, 1½” high pans and one “4×8″ loaf pan with parchment paper. (The 4×8 loaf pan cake will be used for cake covering later).
2. In a large bowl, sift cake flour, baking powder, ¾ cup sugar and salt and mix until well combined.
3. On a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, oil, milk, and ube.
4. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Beat on lowest setting until just combined. Set aside.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites on high speed until frothy. Gradually add in remaining ¾ cup sugar and cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
5. Gently fold in egg whites into mixture until very well combined.
6. Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool down in pans for about 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks and allow to completely cool down.
For the Frosting:
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. In another bowl, beat heavy cream, sugar and vanilla on high speed until stiff. Slowly fold in cream cheese and beat again at high speed for a few seconds just until well combined. Be sure not over beat your frosting.
To assemble the cake:
1. Drain some of the syrup from the macapuno. Set aside.
2. Place one of the round cakes on your serving plate or cake board. Spread and level about 1/3 of frosting onto the cake layer until it is about ¼” thick. Top with 1/3 of the macapuno. Place second round cake on top of macapuno. Spread the next 1/3 of frosting to cover top and sides of cake.
3. Remove sides and bottom of the loaf cake. Cut the cake into cubes then crumble using a food processor or blender.
4. Gently stick the crumbs to the cake top and sides until it is fully covered.
5. Using the remaining frosting, pipe out big rosettes around the cake’s top edge, and some small ones around the bottom part. Spread the remaining “macapuno” in the center of the cake. You may also top the rosettes with “macapuno”.
- I only made 2 layers. If you want more filling, you can make it 4 layers by dividing each round cake into two but you will have to double your frosting ingredients if you will do that.
- You can make your own cake flour by using 1 cup of all-purpose flour and remove 1 tbsp of all-purpose flour and replace it with 1 tbsp of cornstarch. Sift the mixture twice.
- You can add color to your cream cheese to match with the purple color of the cake. For me, I use lemon yellow liquid gel.
- If coconut preserves is not available, you can fill the cake with cream cheese.
After making the cake, it was almost like magical because the Ube Cake recipe that I baked turned out to be truly heavenly and delicious!
It was so delicious that it became one of my personal favorite! I did not bother adding any purple food color in the cake but rather stick to the natural purple yam flavor that was so distinct…I can literally savor its aroma from my taste buds transposed up to the very core of my wisdom!
I was truly gratified to have tried this opportunity to discover one significant cake flavor that I almost did not give much serious attention to. It was likewise one valuable learning, that delight is found in the most simple ingredients…and in my personal experience, from purple yam. Although, the process in baking this special cake is not simple but it’s totally worth every minute of it!
Thanks for reading this post, hope you learn something from me.
Lots of Love,
Riah – The Happy Baker 🙂