Ube is purple yam. It is a starchy root vegetable, like potatoes, taro, sweet potatoes, but it is NOT a potato, taro or sweet potato. And, although it is a root crop, we use it more often in sweets and desserts – ube jam or halaya, ube cake, ube bread, ube rice cakes, ice cream, candy, etc. My personal favorite is stuffing it in cupcakes… then frosting the cupcakes with more ube infused frosting!
For the cupcake, I used a vanilla-sour cream cupcake – a super easy recipe that was shared by a friend a long time ago –
Stir together 2-2/3 cups cake flour, 1-1/2 cups vanilla sugar, 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add 3 super jumbo eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup whole milk, 2/3 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup melted butter and 1/2 cup canola oil. Mix well. Scoop into 24 paper-lined cupcake tins. Drop a teaspoon of ube halaya onto each cupcake. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 22 to 26 minutes. Watch the cupcakes because they brown fast and if overdone, the top with be crusty instead of soft. Cool in pans about 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the icing, cream 1/2 cup butter until light and fluffy. Add 3/4 to 1 cup ube halaya, by tablespoonfuls, mixing well after each addition. To make stiff, add powdered sugar. To thin, add milk. In my case there was no need to add powdered sugar but I had to thin the mixture a bit.
The short version of this cake is easy – buy a pound cake mix, follow the instructions on the box and place half of the batter in a buttered and floured bundt pan. Spoon store-bought ube halaya in the middle to form the tunnel, then put in the rest of the batter! Bake then eat!
The way I did mine though… was not the easy way…
It was a case of killing a few birds with one stone!
The main goal was to come up with a cake for a celebration – a cake that had no icing (many were watching their sugar level) but still delicious and beautiful to stand on its own… AND, it had incorporate the celebrants’ favorite flavor – UBE!
A cake that was pretty enough and impressive enough to stand on its own, without icing, obviously meant a bundt cake! Incorporating the ube, however, presented a bit of problem…
Thing is, while there’s lemon, orange, chocolate, butter, cream cheese pound cake recipes, I hadn’t heard of an ube pound cake before and I really didn’t have time to experiment. Plus, I had been wanting to try out a cream cheese pound cake recipe so I thought this would be a good time to try it… so I concluded that I had to add the ube flavor in a different way.
The solution came by way of a picture I saw in a cookbook – a chiffon cake that had a “ribbon” of chocolate running through the middle. So I thought, why not place the ube in the middle of the pound cake? Like a tunnel instead of a ribbon… and boom!