Ube (pronounced ooo-bae) originated in the Philippines and refers to a bright purple yam. Ube is a very versatile ingredient. It is not a purple sweet potato or taro, it is a purple yam. Its unique taste reminds one of vanilla, pistachios or chestnuts. The vibrant purple color inside and out is uniquely photogenic.
Fresh ube seems to be fairly difficult to find in North America but with a little persistence it is possible. There are a few different forms it is sold in. Dehydrated powder, extract, ube halaya (or paste) or as a grated frozen product. Ube is not an exotic ingredient in the Philippines but a common everyday staple.
This brings us to today’s recipe. Rolled cakes have been around for years but still have such a unique and modern look to them. In North America the terminology evolved from Jelly Cake (1852), Roll Jelly Cake (1860), Swiss Roll (1872), Jelly Roll (1873) and Rolled Jelly Cake (1876).The name ‘Jelly Roll’ was eventually adopted. I recall my mother’s version as a yellow sponge cake with a red jam rolled inside.
In the Philippines a rolled variant has a very simple filling of sugar and butter. Modern versions, however, are commonly frosted and can include a variety of fillings flavored with ube.
My love for ube continues as this is now my fourth blog centered around it. It seems that unique flavor and gorgeous lavender color is finding its way into an endless variety of desserts these days.