Ube (pronounced OO-bay), is a purple yam native to the Philippines and other areas of Southeast Asia. Ube is a very versatile ingredient. It is not a purple sweet potato or taro, it is a purple yam. Its special taste reminds one of vanilla, pistachios or chestnuts. The vibrant purple color inside and out is uniquely photogenic.
Ube has been used for decades in Filipino cuisine and has now caught on in North America, especially in the form of desserts.
If you’re not familiar with ‘cruffins’, they are a hybrid of a croissant and a muffin. The dough that would be used to make a croissant is rolled up on itself and placed in a popover or muffin pan to be baked. This is how they achieve their characteristic and striking appearance. Next, they are filled with jam, creams, curds, ganaches, etc… You might say it’s about reinventing the croissant.
The first known cruffin was created by Kate Reid in Melbourne, Australia in 2013. A former designer of Formula One racing cars, Kate is no ordinary patisserie. As far back as she remembers, she had a close connection to cars. Her father, being an avid classic car collector, young Kate and her brother would hover around when he was restoring classic Porsche 911’s, sitting in the driver’s seat pretending to go on road trips.
Kate Reid wanted to work at the pinnacle of motor sport. She had the vision that working in the upper echelon of innovation and technology for the automotive industry would give her the opportunity to be incredibly innovative, thinking outside the box and really pushing the boundaries of what was possible.
She tilted her entire education towards earning a degree in aerospace engineering, which eventually led her to a job in Formula One as an aerodynamicist. However, she discovered that it was not what she had imagined it would be like.
From a young age, Kate Reid always loved baking. One day it occurred to her that baking could be more than just a hobby. Fast forward to today, Kate is a pastry chef and the founder and business owner of Lune Croissanterie in the city of Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia. Seven years in operation, Lune has become known as the prime location for the perfect croissant. It’s a combination of the passion, inspiration and complexity of the croissant.
She harbors no regrets about her big career change, living by the credo that ‘we get one chance at life, so why not love what you’re going to devote your time and mental capacity to’.
One thing for sure, culinary history never gets boring! So now I’m inspired to make some ‘ube cruffins’ and we just happen to have some special little Filipino friends that can be the official taste testers!!
Ube Halaya (Jam) BEST TO MAKE A DAY AHEAD OF USING
Ube Halaya (Jam)
In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt butter. Add coconut & condensed milks; stir until heated. Add thawed, grated ube & combine well.Cook over a low heat. It is important to stir the mixture often during cooking to prevent it from forming a 'crust'. This process takes about 40-50 minutes until the ube is cooked. The mixture should be thick & sticky. Transfer the ube jam to a container & set aside.
In a small dish, heat milk to lukewarm. Add yeast & 1 tsp sugar; let sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
In another bowl, whisk flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture one cup at a time, combining after each addition. Once all the flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least one hour, in a draft-free place until dough has doubled in volume.
Lightly grease cups of either a popover or muffin tin. Sprinkle work surface with flour. Roll dough out into a rectangle 21 X 16-inches (about 54 X 40 cm). WITHOUT CUTTING through, mark dough into six equal strips starting on the longest side.
Thinly spread ube jam on strip # 2 & #5 (numbering from the left side). Fold strip #1 & #6 over the jam. Lightly spread the top of each folded side with more jam then fold each one toward center.
Now spread the top of one folded piece, then bring the other side over it. With a rolling pin, slightly press entire layered roll flatter.
With a buttered, sharp knife, cut the strip along its entire length into 3 strips. Next cut each strip horizontally into 4 (or 5) pieces. Carefully lift each piece, stretch it out a bit & then twist it.
Form it into a ring & place in muffin (or popover) cup. When all cruffins are in the pan, use a pastry tube & pipe some ube jam in center of the spiral.
Allow cruffins to sit in a draft-free place for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake cruffins for 20-25 minutes. Grate cheese & set aside.
When cruffins are baked, remove from the oven. While still warm, sprinkle with grated cheese.
- Instead of piping ube jam in center of unbaked cruffins, you can reserve any extra for serving on the side instead.
- Instead of making a 'true' croissant dough, I used my favorite (sweet) yeast dough. Of course, you don't get the flakiness of a croissant, but the taste & tenderness of the cruffin was still real good.
- Another alternative would be to use frozen puff pastry.