This ube cake combines 2 Filipino dessert specialties made from purple yam (ube). The light and airy purple yam cake layers include a ube halaya (purple yam + condensed milk) buttercream to make a fabulous dessert that everyone will enjoy.
The Origin of this Ube Cake Recipe
I didn’t realize ube cake of Filipino purple yam cake existed until I received an inquiry to make a purple yam cake! The colourful and fancy aesthetic of it intrigued me immediately. Right away I started researching and found that it is a Filipino specialty and, in the Philippines, people call the purple yam “ube” (oobee).
I searched extensively online for the absolute best purple yam cake recipes as well as calling up a local Asian food store. Luckily, they were carrying purple yams!
Filipino purple yam cake is a deep purple colour due to the incorporation of mashed purple yams in the batter. Similar to when you add apple sauce or pumpkin puree to a cake batter, this cake is fluffy and moist, which is just what you want with a special occasion cake.
People call the style of cake mamón in the Philippines, which is similar to a chiffon cake that whipped egg whites primarily leavens. Some variations can exist with the frosting, as some include whipped cream or buttercream. You could even top it with cream cheese frosting. This version includes a buttercream with ube halaya.
How to Make Ube Cake
To start making this purple yam cake, you will want to preheat your oven to 325° F. A lower temperature is perfect for this cake, helping it to bake into a fluffy and spongy texture. Next, you will want to prepare three round 9-inch can pans. Rather than greasing these pans, I recommend lining them with a round of parchment paper to ensure they come out of the pans without sticking.
Making the Batter
To make the purple yam cake batter, you will start by whisking the cake flour with the baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. I prefer to whisk here as it ensures the dry ingredients become evenly incorporated. Cake flour is ideal in cake recipes because it has a lower protein percentage than all-purpose flour, and as a result, there will be less chance of you making a tough cake from overmixing. Cake flour helps ensure you get a fluffy and soft cake every single time.
Next, you combine cooked mashed ube with milk, vanilla, corn syrup, egg yolks, and oil until smooth. Afterward, the dry mixture goes into the wet mixture resulting in a smooth batter.
The next step involves whipping egg whites with cream of tartar until peaks form. While you could beat the egg whites without the inclusion of the cream of tartar, it helps stabilize the egg whites faster allowing for a denser meringue. While whipping the egg whites, you also gradually add in some granulated sugar, which melts into the egg whites during mixing, producing a glossiness and adding sweetness and stability to the meringues.
Granulated sugar is an essential component to making quality meringue and will help sweeten your cake. You should also include some blue and red food colouring at this point which will help produce an intense purple colour with the cake base.
Next, I like to incorporate one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten the batter and make it easier to add the rest without deflating them. The air you achieve during whipping the egg whites will help the cake rise. Afterward, you gently fold in the remaining egg whites before dividing the batter between your prepared cake pans.
Filling the Cake Pans
To fill the cake pans, you will want to ensure that an even amount goes into each pan. One way to accomplish this would be to use a measuring cup to divide even portions of batter between the pans. However, another way to do this would be to first weigh the full quantity of batter and divide it by three. Then, you could place each cake pan on the scale as you pour in enough batter to match a third of the determined weight.
Baking the Cakes
These cakes only need a total time of 30 to 35 minutes to bake. To check them for doneness, I recommend that you insert a skewer or cake tester into the middles; if it comes out clean, you can pull them out of the oven. However, if the skewer comes out with a few drier crumbs, the cakes are probably done too. You just don’t want to see anything wet or spongy on the skewer.
You can also test the cakes’ doneness by whether it springs back when you touch it. If your finger leaves an indent in the cake, it still needs time. Meanwhile, if it springs back to the touch, it is likely baked through.
Making the Filling
This purple yam cake includes an ube halaya buttercream filling, which is basically a combination of buttercream, mashed purple yam, sweetened condensed milk, and purple food colouring. The inspiration behind the filling was from the ube cake my customer would get every year in Vancouver because this is the type of frosting it had.
In the Philippines, a dessert exists that people call ube halaya. It includes purple yams. It is essentially purple yam that you mash and cook with sweetened condensed milk and butter until thick.
To make the filling, I combined homemade buttercream with purple yam puree, sweetened condensed milk, and purple (red+blue) food colouring. The amount of milk will depend on the buttercream you are using so just be sure to start with a little and then work up if necessary.
I used the ube halaya buttercream as a filling between the cake layers, as well as frosting to cover the outside of the cake. On the outside I piped large frosting roses to create a beautiful (yet easy to achieve) pattern.
My Customer’s Feedback
I was so excited to receive this great feedback from the customer:
“I just wanted to let you know that the Purple Yam cake you made was absolutely amazing! My girlfriend loved it, as well as everyone at the party. It was actually better than the one we used to get in Vancouver, thanks again!”
It’s always wonderful to hear back from a satisfied customer and to know others appreciate my baking creations as much as I do. Although this recipe might seem unusual, I highly recommend it, especially if you like to try new foods from around the world. Good luck and please comment or share the results from your purple yam cake! Enjoy your Filipino-inspired cake!
Original images from 2011:
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This cake combines 2 Filipino dessert specialties made from purple yam (ube). The light and airy purple yam cake layers are filled with a ube halaya (purple yam + condensed milk) buttercream.
Puple Yam Cake
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup ube puree cooked & pureed/mashed purple yam
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 7 egg yolks lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 7 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 6 drops red food color
- 6 drops blue food coloring
Ube Halaya Filling (double, if used as filling and frosting)
- 2 cups buttercream
- 2 tbsp purple yam puree
- 1-3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk amount depends on buttercream
- 1-2 drops purple food coloring
Purple Yam Cake
Preheat oven to 325°F. Only line (don't grease) three 9" cake pans with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
Add ube puree in a large bowl and slowly add milk and vanilla and combine until smooth. Mix in corn syrup, egg yolks and oil. Stir in flour mixture and set aside.
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add in sugar and food coloring, beat until stiff peaks form. Incorporate 1/3 of egg whites into cake batter, then gently but quickly fold in remaining egg whites. If the cake batter is too pale purple for your liking at this stage, add more food coloring and incorporate.
Divide batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the tops spring back when gently pressed. Cool cake layers in pans for 10 minutes, then invert on wire rack and let cool fully.
Ube Halaya Buttercream Filling
Combine 2 cups of your favorite buttercream with 2 tablespoons of purple yam (ube) puree, condensed milk and food coloring. Start with 1 tablespoon condensed milk and add up to 3 tbsp, depending on how much your buttercream can handle without becoming too thin.
Spread filling between cake layers. Double the filling recipe, if you also want to frost the cake with ube halaya buttercream. Use an angled spatula to frost the outside of the cake or apply in a pattern with a piping bag & tip.
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com